Informing Conservation Management Decisions Through Technology
Using our unique combination of tools: flight, film, and education, CAVU empowers people to take meaningful action on critical conservation and social justice issues in their own communities.
CAVU is a US public charity helping people create viable solutions for our planet's scarce resources.
CAVU in Action!
News at CAVU
November 13, 2015
Saving the Gila
Originating in America’s first designated wilderness area — a protection inspired by Aldo Leopold — New Mexico’s Gila River is a mainstay for the region’s recreation economy and a biological gem whose riparian forests boast one of the highest concentrations of breeding birds in the country. But it’s now at risk from a billion-dollar diversion project. After three failed attempts to dam and divert this still-wild river, developers are hoping the fourth time’s a charm. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has until November 23 to decide whether to allow the project to go through. Click on the link to email Interior Secretary Jewell and help save the Gila. #SavetheGila bit.ly/SavetheGila
September 24, 2015
This summer CAVU teamed up again with our long-term partner the Sea Turtle Conservancy to update the 2007 award-winning documentary “Higher Ground: the Battle to Save Florida’s Beaches”. This new film and educational outreach campaign aims to raise awareness about the mismanagement of Florida’s coastal zones and incorporate updated research and new opinions from community leaders, educators, authors, activists, and state and national officials. The state’s refusal to prepare for – or to even acknowledge – the effects of sea level rise on coastal communities will be a focal point. The film will highlight issues through the stories and voices of community members and their demand for action.
September 24, 2015
CAVU continues to keep aviation a unique aspect of its project design. In an effort to keep up with the most current technological advances CAVU utilized drone technology for the first time during our new film project in Florida. Although drones will never replace the benefits of taking stakeholders on flights to witness firsthand the changes to their environment, this new technology allows us to capture images in locations where the use of an airplane would not be practical or feasible.
September 20, 2015
CAVU had the opportunity to speak with and conduct a first on-camera interview with a young woman who has accomplished more in her 16 years than most adults. Delaney Reynolds of Miami Florida is the founder of an organization called Sink or Swim which looks at the varied threats of sea level rise and other environmental issues she views as impacting her life and future. Delaney is not only an outspoken advocate for these issues through her inspiring website, blog, and community minded activities, she is also an accomplished children’s book author and illustrator. The three books she has already published focus on Florida’s ecological wonders.
CAVU was especially impressed when Delaney subsequently spoke in front of the Miami Dade County Commission and Miami Dade Mayor Gimenez about the proposed fiscal budget and their almost complete neglect regarding sea level rise. If Delaney Reynolds is any indication of future leaders CAVU is happy to look ahead. You can read more about Sink or Swim and Delaney Reynolds at her website http://miamisearise.com
June 10, 2015
CAVU collaborated with Girls Incorporated of Santa Fe, New Mexico to create a series of videos capturing their critical work and many achievements successfully helping young girls over the last sixty years. By amplifying the voices of the girls CAVU hopes to empower them to lead healthy lives and positively impact their communities.
Through the series of videos Girls Inc. raised the funds they were seeking and increased their exposure as Comcast cable chose to use the 60 second spot as their public service announcement for the month of September airing the video 150 times during prime time. CAVU is proud to have contributed to raising awareness of a critical sector in the Santa Fe community. These videos are a successful tool to showcase the Girls Inc. story, which they can rely upon for the ongoing support they need.
May 15, 2015
CAVU, in cooperation with other stakeholders including Dr. Melanie McField, Director of Healthy Reefs Initiative with the Smithsonian Institution, worked to engage Belize’s coastal communities during our “Reefs for People” campaign about the threat to their environment and economy. CAVU is pleased to see positive results from the 2015 Mesoamerican Reef Report Card completed in May, where the regional reef health index showed an overall improvement. Through these results we can see how CAVU’s work has helped to foster a measurable change to the future health of Belize’s Barrier Reef and its people.
Check out the new report for yourself.
October 08, 2014
CAVU is honored to be a recipient of the AOPA Foundation’s 2014 Giving Back Grant. This grant is awarded to nonprofit organizations that do vital work through general aviation. In just their second year providing grants CAVU was chosen out of more than sixty applicants to be one of ten recipients supported.
May 01, 2014
The CAVU/Sea Turtle Conservancy Turtle Survey Team just returned from a multi-day leatherback sea turtle nesting census. Covering the Atlantic coastline from the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border to Colon, Panama, STC researchers were able to locate, count and photo-document Leatherback nests. While flying above the coastline, nesting areas are easily distinguishable by their unique crawls in the sand (as shown in the images left and below). The sections of coastline being surveyed are marked with GPS waypoints, which makes comparing year to year data easy.When a nesting location was noted by the counters, a GPS embedded image was captured to cross reference the sighting. Having a complimentary photo record is a very useful tool to verify the observers remarks. Preliminary population numbers were recored, with one critical beach,Chiriqui, showing more than 700 visible nesting sites. The latest survey was an expanded version of the mission carried out in 2013. The team consisted of Dr. Emma Harrison and Cristina Ordoñez of STC and Capt. Alex Cavaletti and photographer Sean Davis of CAVU. More details will be added soon!
Photo credit- Sean Davis 2014
April 24, 2014
CAVU flights continue to be instrumental in supporting Costa Rica’s Minister of the Environment (MINAET) management effectiveness of protected areas across the country. On a recent flight of the Osa Conservation Area, land managers were able to monitor land use and detect illegal activities. Of upmost importance were the areas bordering the Humedal Térraba-Sierpe, a RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance. MINAET officials were able to detect and document destructive practices being carried out. Only visible from the air, the flights uncovered trenching being done by palm oil operations, shrimp farming in the mangrove areas and violations to the protected areas’ buffer zones. Additional areas covered were Parque Nacional Corcovado and the Laguna Pejeperro Wildlife Refuge. Throughout the flights observations were also made of illegal gold mining and forest fires. With the information and photographic eevidence gathered on the flights, MINAET officials are able to immediately take corrective measures to curtail the activities.Taking part in this most recent flight were- Rodolfo Acuña, Geinor Barquero, Laura Díaz, and José María Arroyo of MINAET.
April 17, 2014
Work by GIS experts, is transforming CAVU imagery into analytical data that helps our partners better understand conservation management effectiveness. This recent example takes images collected for our partners at Association Costa Rica Por Siempre, and demonstrates the extent of the typha invasion happening at Palo Verde National Park in Costa Rica. This plant species is choking out native vegetation, decreasing the amount of suitable habitat for waterbird species. Efforts are underway by park managers to eradicate the species through mechanical intervention. In this series of data, typha is denoted by the pink areas on the maps, areas in yellow depict the areas where intervention has taken place.
CAVU and ACRXS are in year two of a multi-year partnership to monitor the park.
CAVU Flights Assist CATIE and Conservation International With Mangrove Assessments in Gulf of Nicoya
April 17, 2014
CAVU flights for CATIE and Conservation International played an important role in assessing mangrove habitat in Costa Rica’s Gulf of Nicoya and Isla Chira. The flights carried Dr. Miguel Cifuentes and Christian Brenes of CATIE, who were using the aerial perspective to visually estimate the structural and floristic composition present in the mangrove area gradients ; useful for the design of field inventory information.
Mangrove forests provide many important ecosystem services: carbon sequestration and storage, reproductive habitat for fisheries, filtration of contaminants and sediments, scenic beauty. In addition, they provide materials and subsistence products to local populations. The objective of CATIE’s research is to determine the economic value of carbon accumulation and other priority ecosystem services that contribute to sustaining the livelihoods of communities around the Gulf of Nicoya, in northern Costa Rica. CATIE researchers will estimate the mangrove ecosystem carbon stocks and their historical changes due to land use dynamics since the 1960s. In addition, CATIE will document the livelihoods of local populations and determine their vulnerability to climate change. This information will help determine the economic value of the most relevant ecosystem services for local communities. Ultimately, the goal through this research is to help promote the sustainable use, restoration and effective management of mangrove forests in the area.
These flights are part of CI’s greater vision and project implementation for Nicoya with key partners such as CATIE and CAVU.
After the flights, Dr. Miguel Cifuentes Jara had this to say, “I’d like to thank CAVU for offering this incredible opportunity. We gained unique insights about the distribution and condition of land use categories along the coastal margin of the Gulf of Nicoya. This helped tremendously with our site selection; it significantly cut the time we would have had to spend scouting for sites via roads or shore access. I was really impressed at how much easier it is to scout for sites and identify land use features from the air.”
January 03, 2014
Happy New Year! CAVU is looking forward to a busy flight season. Our latest newsletter is now on line- click here to learn more about our completed and upcoming projects!
October 11, 2013
On Septemeber 7th, an event was held at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix to launch the Raise the River campaign. Renowned actor and conservationist Robert Redford and dignitaries from United States and Mexico were in attendance to celebrate one of the greatest environmental restoration opportunities of the Century — an ambitious, multi-national effort — to reconnect the Colorado River to its Delta in Mexico.
Raise the River is a collaborative effort among nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and community groups to raise $10 million by 2017 to restore the Delta. In less than a year, they have raised more than a $1 million, and now have a matching grant of $1 million from the Terra Foundation.
CAVU aims to assist in the efforts through scientific overflights to collect important habitat data and to raise awareness through media flights.
To learn more about the campaign and how you can make a real difference, please contact us for more information and visit the links below.
Photos by Dora Gro/Diana Reed & Daniel Swadener
June 05, 2013CAVU is deeply saddened by the death of dedicated biologist and sea turtle advocate, Jairo Mora Sandoval.Jairo was truly an inspiration, fighting valiantly for the protection of sea turtles. CAVU extends our deepest condolences to Jairo’s family, friends and colleagues.
May 28, 2013
CAVU and Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC, Formerly Caribbean Conservation Corporation) have renewed efforts to carry out annual nesting surveys along the Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica and Panama. Beginning at the border with Nicaragua this multi-day survey covered the entire coastline ending at the Comarca Ngöbe-Buglé, Panama. Data from this survey will help to assess population and nesting beach preference. Preliminary review of the data from April 2013 suggests that approximately 200 leatherback nests were recorded by the two observers (Dr. Emma Harrison – STC and Luis Fonseca – WIDECAST). After the flights Dr. Harrison noted- “It is really important for sea turtle biologists to view things on a regional scale, not focus solely on trends at individual beaches. The aerial surveys are one way of adopting this more regional perspective; which can be hard at times when working at one specific location within the leatherback nesting range. However, only by regarding this entire coastline, from Nicaragua down into Panama, as a whole can we start to make more informed conservation and resource management decisions, which will ultimately ensure the future survival of this critically endangered species.”
May 24, 2013
In Panama, CAVU is currently working on a bi-national mapping project, in partnership with the National Environmental Authority (ANAM), the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment (MINAE), to survey mangrove and reef habitats at the San San Pond Sak and Gandoca –Manzanillo areas on the Caribbean coast. The imagery will be delivered to the Smithsonian for data interpretation and the creation of land classification maps.
May 22, 2013
CAVU has recently completed the first phase of a five-year project to collect aerial imagery of Palo Verde National Park in Costa Rica’s northern Guanacaste province. The wetlands of Palo Verde are recognized under the RAMSAR convention as a wetland of international significance. Working in partnership with SINAC (The System of Protected Areas) and Forever Costa Rica, a non-profit conservation organization, aerial data was collected to identify and assess the extent of an invasive plant species Typha (cattail) that is choking out native vegetation and impacting water bird species in the park. Data collected on the flights will help SINAC form a comprehensive management plan to eradicate this threat.
May 21, 2013
CAVU has a longstanding alliance with Conservation International working to establish and monitor Responsible Fishing Areas in Costa Rica. Ongoing assessments of the country’s marine resources are an integral component to insure national fisheries remain productive and healthy. Flights carried out earlier this season provided a platform for representatives of several international NGO’s to document and view the areas currently under management as RFA’s. Additional flights will be conducted throughout the year.
CAVU Acquires Cessna Turbo 206 Aircraft Equipped with Custom Technology from SkyIMD and Red Hen Systems
May 02, 2013
Using advanced geo-referenced vertical photography and high tech mapping, CAVU will document the health of critical ecosystems in North and Central America.
San Jose, Costa Rica – CAVU (Calm Air Visibility Unlimited), a US Public Charity dedicated to helping save critical ecosystems, has acquired a new aircraft, the latest model Cessna 206 (Turbo 206H) and has recently completed a number of special, mission-specific modifications, including a SkyIMD SkyDSLR camera mounting system and specialized geo-referencing equipment from Red Hen Systems Inc.
“Purchasing this aircraft is a huge step for CAVU. With the ability to measure high elevation glacial recession in the Andes, and also land on unimproved strips in the rainforest, this aircraft enables us to work anywhere, documenting many areas that are unreachable by land. We can provide aerial surveys of wildlife and waterbirds, data acquisition to survey land use, canopy and forest coverage assessment, and detection of runoff and effluent from aquaculture, as well as visualization flights to educate government officials, land managers and media about the issues at hand.” said CAVU President and Founder David Smith.
In the past, CAVU relied heavily on volunteer pilot aircraft for its missions across Central America. The newly acquired, six seat 206 provides a comfortable platform and opens the door for more people – conservation scientists, government officials and journalists – to experience CAVU’s work first hand from the air.
In addition to the 206’s flight capabilities is the aircraft’s custom designed camera pod. CAVU’s Executive Director Michele Gangaware explains, “The FAA approved SkyIMD camera housing, which mounts onto the wing strut of the plane, allows for geo-referenced vertical photography producing high-resolution images of fine details on the ground below. Complimented by equipment from Red Hen Systems, this aerial conservation photography technology will allow high tech mapping and documentation of the health of critical ecosystems.”
The new aircraft and state of the art technology was first used by SINAC (The System of Protected Areas), and Forever Costa Rica, a non-profit conservation organization, to identify and monitor an invasive species of cattail in Palo Verde National Park in the Guanacaste region. CAVU is also partnering with Conservation International on a sustainable fisheries health assessment in the Gulf of Nicoya. In Panama, CAVU will be working on a bi-national project, in partnership with the National Environmental Authority (ANAM), the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment (MINAE), to survey mangrove and reef habitats along the Caribbean coast.
Founded in 2004, CAVU is a US public charity dedicated to helping solve complex problems related to the management and conservation of natural resources. Using advanced technology and an aerial platform, CAVU captures, analyzes, and shares data to inform better conservation management decisions. CAVU believes that when people are informed and engaged, healthy societies and renewable natural resources thrive. For more information, please visit www.cavusite.org.
April 23, 2013
Happy Earth Day from the CAVU Team.