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New Zealand brings in drone to inspect gully systems

21 Mar 16 NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is to use a drone this week to gather environmental information on Hamilton's gully systems.

The unmanned aerial vehicle will be playing its part in an environmental strategy that will lay out how the city’s degraded gully systems could be restored.

NZTA is working on a gully restoration strategy as part the Hamilton section of the NZ$2.1bn (£985m) Waikato Expressway project. The strategy will identify areas for potential restoration, offer up solutions such as how to eradicate invasive weed species and identify possible funding sources for the work.

Much of the gulley system is not accessible by foot because of dense undergrowth so the drone will be flying this week to collect information on the topography and type of vegetation in the gullies.

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Transport Agency Waikato highway manager Kaye Clark said that projects like the expressway provide an opportunity to enhance the natural and physical environment alongside roads. “Achieving sound social and environmental outcomes is a big part of the Transport Agency’s business,” she said. “When we started investigating the Hamilton section we saw that the gully systems are in an extremely poor state, full of invasive plants and weeds that are destroying the natural ecosystem. The survey work we will be carrying out will inform what environmental works need to be carried out within the Hamilton section of the expressway’s footprint but the information will also be useful for other areas.”

Once the information has been gathered, NZTA plans to create the gully restoration strategy. It will identify areas for potential restoration and objectives for those areas; make high level suggestions on how to undertake restoration works including suitable plants and weed management strategies; identify potential funding sources groups may be able to tap into to complete any restoration work; and identify the likely costs of restoration work.

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