Capacity building in drone mapping for Samoa


Advancement in mapping technology skills is an asset for any organization in the field of Geospatial Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS).

Drone mapping is an example of GIS technology for gathering data. It captures quality real-time ground information for spatial analysis to support our efforts to protect, conserve and safeguard our pristine, fragile environment.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) through the Environmental Monitoring and Governance (EMG) programme conducted a two-day Drone Training and Mapping workshop with key national environment stakeholders from Samoa’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (MWTI).

In his opening remarks, Director EMG Mr. Jope Davetanivalu stated that “the training was a product of talanoa sessions and discussions on the need for capacity building on GIS technology skills for data management, which have led us here today for the Drone training and mapping, as outreach efforts within MNRE and across the sectors”.

The two days workshop was coordinated by SPREP EMG and supported by MNRE. It was held at the  Pacific Climate Change Centre (PCCC) on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 November 2022.

The drone training and mapping workshop was also part of the 2022 Global GIS Week event at SPREP organized by the GIS unit with the theme “Inspiring Spatial Citizens”.

The drone training was facilitated by SkyEye Pacific as the only local drone training provider with an accredited remote pilot licensed (RPL) officer to operate a drone in Samoa. The drone training components consisted of both theory and practical applications.

The training objectives focused on the basic understanding of drones, regulations on drone flights, risk assessment, practical drone assembly, flight planning, basic manual flight training, and the Drone Software used for image export and processing.

Workshop participants took part in both the theory component on day one and the drone flight practical on day two with a certificate awarded at the end of the training after successfully attending the two sessions.

The importance of drone imagery in capturing real-time ground information for GIS analysis has been used in different fields, as a monitoring and decision-making supporting tool in Disaster management; Forest resources management; Landslides risk assessment; Mining; Flood control; Hazardous waste considerations; Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) and Natural resources management to ensure sustainable development.

With a drone, it is possible to carry out topographic surveys of the same quality as the highly accurate measurements collected by traditional methods, but in a fraction of the time.

At the closing of the workshop DEMG, Mr. Jope Davetanivalu acknowledged the engagement of the stakeholders in the training, and SPREP looks forward to continuing its collaboration with our national counterparts to master the technology and use it to further our shared objectives for informed decision-making. The workshop was made possible with  funding support from the EU/UNEP ACP/MEA 3 and GEF/UNEP Inform Project by SPREP.