There is a level of irony accompanying modern technological advancements: those things that are created for good can also do harm. In a fascinating development of recent years, things created to do harm can now be used for good. Such is the case with drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Though initially created for warfare, they have evolved into other sectors of the economy. The created intent, to stealthily wage war without risk to soldiers, now translates to greater protection for those checking the safety of infrastructure, the structural integrity of buildings, etc.
Data is showing that drones are soaring to new heights and their use is expected to grow substantially–and consistently–in the coming years.
Over 1.7 million drones were registered in the United States by January 2021, with $13 billion spent on drones by the government and businesses. Further, the drone industry is expected to grow at 15.37% CAGR over the next five years and the application of drones in various sectors is worth around $127 billion, according to Seed Scientific.
Marc Dumont is a Canadian drone pilot based in Alberta. He became interested in the applications in protecting the environment and also ways in which he could utilize drones in the beaver control business he will soon launch.
“When you are working to protect land, water, and creatures, it is helpful to have a bird’s eye view of what is happening with the water and the land,” Alberta’s Marc Dumont said. “Using the drone helps me find more effective and creative solutions to problems created by beavers, like installing exclusion fences or flow devices, and determining where they should be installed. These are important tools to harness when attempting to mitigate beaver damage to an area while also preserving their lives.”
Dumont’s path to entrepreneurship is storied and involves bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Alberta before he decided to pivot, obtain his Environmental Monitoring certificate and study to become a professional beaver control specialist under the guidance and mentorship of the Beaver Institute, led by Mike Callaghan. Becoming a drone pilot and then using that ability to help launch his beaver conflict specialist business happened organically. Like so many other entrepreneurs in the world, he saw a problem, a need, and decided to help fix it.
“Beavers were beginning to have a considerable negative impact on my property, my neighbor’s property and the municipal road leading to them, and I know that many people simply think that trapping them is an effective solution,” he said.
He explained that while trapping can be effective in some very short term situations, it is now widely recognized as not only an ineffective long term strategy to protect property, but an expensive and time-consuming one.
“It took hundreds of years to almost eradicate beavers. Thankfully, they are resilient, and have given us several decades to come to realize the many benefits that they bring to an ecosystem. I was keen to find a solution that recognized this, while also protecting the integrity of property – whether it be roads, homes, agricultural land and recreational properties. It is absolutely possible to co-exist with beavers and even thrive, once we become aware of the critical role these unassuming animals have in improving the natural world around us,” he said.
Environmental monitoring is just one area in which drones are finding footing.
“What is exciting about becoming a certified drone pilot right now is that we are all getting in on the ground floor into what will be a booming industry. There is money to be made and a lot of good to be done,” Dumont said. “Many other drone pilots I know are facing a difficult choice: you eventually have to specialize, to some degree. The applications and opportunities are so endless, they feel like they are almost drowning in ideas.”
Areas of high growth for drone pilots extend from law enforcement using thermal imaging to chase suspects, search and rescue teams finding victims, conducting roof assessments, real estate photography, film and television filming, and industrial inspections, according to Commercial UAV News.
Dumont added that there are numerous opportunities for entrepreneurship in this arena, and he believes more habitat restoration engineers and mitigation specialists will start using drone technology for greater accuracy, efficiency and monitoring.
“My professional life could have gone in a lot of different directions,” Dumont said. “Harnessing technological advancements for the benefit of the natural world is exciting. This, I believe, is a sector that would be perfect for any environmentally conscious entrepreneur.”