Drone Ecologies

5 July 2021, 12.00 PM - 6 July 2021, 6.00 PM


Exploring the opportunities and risks of aerial monitoring for biodiversity conservation

On 5-6 July 2021, the University of Bristol hosted an interdisciplinary workshop that explored how drones and other monitoring technologies are being implemented as part of biodiversity conservation initiatives around the world. Bringing together social scientists, engineers, anthropologists, geographers, ecologists, technicians, political ecologists, practitioners and other experts, we explored the opportunities that such technologies offer -- for example, for democratising the way that knowledge about nature is produced, or yielding new insights into forest loss or habitat restoration. We also explored the potential risks of new monitoring technologies, and what we can do to ensure that they are not exploited to infringe on the rights of rural communities.

Through plenary sessions, roundtables and discussion workshops, we explored four key lines of questioning across the disciplines:

  • Technicalities: What can drones do in forest/wildlife conservation?
  • Rights and communities: How can drones be used to support the rights of rural communities?
  • Drones and green securitisation: Where and when does monitoring become surveillance?
  • Ethics and protocols: What are best practices for ensuring that drones are used to foster and promote environmental justice


Drone Ecologies programme 2021 (PDF, 248kB).

The workshop took place online and recordings of the main sessions are available below.

Recorded sessions

Using drones in biodiversity conservation: Risks, opportunties and futures

    • Welcome: Naomi Millner
    • Chair: Ben Newport
    • Panellists: Serge Wich, Andrew Cunliffe, Margarita Mulero Pázmány and Chris Sandbrook 


Making drones work for wildlife and communities

  • Chair: Tom Richardson
  • Speakers: Yves Laumonier, Laura Sauls and Isla Duporge


Community drones: Using technology to strengthen biocultural conservation (talks and Q&A in Spanish)

    • Chair: Mónica Amador
    • Speakers: Nicolás Vargas Ramírez Jaime Paneque Gálvez


Conservation surveillance as a means for state repression? Psychological terror and the spectacles of fear through the use of drones in India

    • Chair: Rosaleen Duffy
    • Speaker: Trishant Simlai


Drones and green securitisation: Where does monitoring become surveillance?

    • Chair: Anna Jackman
    • Speakers: Libby Lunstrum, Francis Massé, Brock Bersaglio & Charis Enns and Laure Joanny


Drone Vision: Warfare, Surveillance, Protest

    • Chair: Sarah Tuck
    • Panellists: Behjat Omer Abdulla, Ignacio Acosta and Mhairi Sutherland

Contact information

If you have any questions please contact Naomi Millner naomi.millner@bristol.ac.uk.

flying drone at Benoue National Park

Bénoué National Park in Northern Cameroon with two Kordofan Giraffe in shot

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