Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Sense of Place: An Exploration of the Socio-Political Implications of UAV Use in Natural Resource Management

Authors: Sara Matthews*, Humboldt State University
Topics: Natural Resources, Political Geography, Remote Sensing
Keywords: UAV, UAS, drone, sense of place, place, socio-political, natural resource management, human dimensions, technology, political geography, remote sensing
Session Type: Interactive Short Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Balcony M, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly referred to as drones, have garnered increasing attention as potential tools for natural resource managers to address challenges such as inaccessible study areas and limited budgets. While UAVs have been used in militarized contexts for the past two decades, recent costs of owning and operating the technology have made it accessible to researchers in civilian contexts, resulting in a dramatic expansion of research applications. As the Federal Aviation Administration works to complete standardized regulations for this new vertical space, land management agencies and private landowners must also grapple with the ethical and practical issues that this new technology brings. To fully realize the potential of UAVs in the scientific community, these issues must be addressed. Through an examination of the potential use of UAVs for wildlife monitoring at Mono Lake in eastern Californa, this research contributes to a better understanding of the social and political implications of using this technology in the civilian sphere. This study analyzes in-depth interviews with Mono Basin stakeholders to explore the nuanced ways in which sense of place influences natural resource management in a rural, yet largely tourism dependent community, as well as how the introduction of UAVs may interact with sense of place.

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