Remote sensing is a new technology which is able to identify objects through their density; it can even distinguish between different plant species. Data taken from a distance, such as images from a satellite or an aircraft, can be used to identify particular types of plants and chart their exact location. By focusing on a specific species, conservation scientists can evaluate the presence and extent of invasions.
The Nature Conservancy provides science-based information that governments and policymakers need to make informed decisions about combating invasive species. Our scientific assessments determine the extent and nature of invasions and focus prevention and control efforts on the most damaging invaders.
In South America we are rolling out an invasive species database developed in partnership with the Universidad del Sur in Argentina. Countries including Chile, Paraguay, Ecuador and Brazil have adopted the database and are using it to carry out national inventories. The information gathered is providing governments with a nation-wide understanding of the impact of invasive species in their countries. The findings pave the way for new policies and legislation to combat the problem, for example, banning the sale of certain invasive plants.
The Conservancy is spearheading the use of new technologies such as remote sensing and satellite imagery to map the location of invasive species. Once completed, these maps provide accurate information that allows conservationists to establish the best way to respond to invasions. These techniques are being applied in New England to assess the presence of bush honeysuckle, which spreads quickly and chokes native forests. By identifying sites of new invasions, plants can be removed before they spread further.