News March 2024

Flight restrictions on drone use over nature areas

We do not currently know what impact drones have on wildlife. Nevertheless, it is important not to expose our Natura 2000 sites to additional pressures. Even when there is no observable behaviour such as flight, physiological disturbance can occur. Research showed that stress from frequent disturbance can lead to increased energy consumption, lower reproduction, reduced longevity and changes in time and space use.

Within a Flemish context, the impact of drones has not yet been studied. We formulated generic flight rules for drone use over nature reserves (consisting of reserves, Natura2000 and VEN areas) based on international literature, such as drone and engine type, aircraft dimensions, flight pattern, flight altitude, flight duration and flight frequency. We also worked out a framework with specific guidelines when applying for a deviation from the generic flight provisions.

A gap analysis based on wintering areas of waterbirds, roosts, vulnerable breeding birds and protected areas shows the possible vulnerability due to drone use outside the zone with the generic flight restrictions.

Hilbran Verstraete

Read more: Verstraete H., K. Devos & Vanden Borre J. (2023). Vliegbeperkingen voor dronegebruik boven natuurgebieden. Rapporten van het Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek 2023 (13). Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek, Brussel.

Image above Yves Adams - Vildaphoto


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