Meet the Team - Remote Pilot Michael Forbes

 Meet Michael Forbes, Associate GIS Analyst and Remote Pilot

Introducing Michael Forbes, Associate GIS Analyst and Remote Pilot at EMM, passion for drone technology was sparked by his family adventures and has evolved into a career where he can leverage drones for environmental and ecological projects. Michael shares his journey into the realm of drone technology and aerial surveying. Discover what sparked his passion for drones, and get an insight into his most recent project, where drone technology played a pivotal role in targeted Ecology surveys.

What inspired you to become involved in drone technology and aerial surveying?

I have been flying drones with my kids for a couple years and we all love it, so when I heard about EMM starting a drone team, I was quick to throw my hand up. My kids have suddenly become more interested in my work and love telling their friends “My dad flies drones for work”. 

I obtained my Batchelor of Science (Ecology) from QUT in 2005 and now have 18 years’ experience working in the fields of GIS and ecology so have a strong interest in the current capabilities (and future opportunities!) for the use of drones on ecological projects.

Can you walk us through a project you've worked on recently, highlighting how drone technology was utilised and the insights it provided?

The most recent drone project that I worked on was targeted surveys for Koala/Greater Glider for a proposed Solar Farm in Central Queensland with EMM ecologist Lindsay Wickson. We had great success capturing thermal images of arboreal fauna including Squirrel Glider/Brush tailed Possum/Flying Fox and numerous bird species. Also identified plenty ground species including Kangaroos/Wallabies/Bettong/Hare and a half-buried Echidna.

The drone covered all potential habitat in the 1,300 ha property over 2 and a half nights, this included 21 flights totalling over 63 km. We didn’t find the 2 target species but were confident if the target species were present on site they would’ve been observed.

How do you ensure compliance with regulations and safety standards while operating drones for surveying purposes?

We take safety very seriously at EMM and the drone team is no exception. Before every field survey we undergo a drone specific risk assessment and detailed operation plan, which all must be approved by the EMM Chief Remote Pilot (Marty Rocks). We also have regular opportunity for training/testing new drones and equipment.



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Michael Forbes

Senior GIS Analyst and Remote Pilot