Tidal channels cut through an unnamed portion of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland.
Curious Planeteer working to make the Earth's changes visible, accessible and actionable.

Protecting Queensland’s Natural Resources with Satellite Imagery


Queensland is home to nearly 5 million citizens and some of the earth’s most delicate ecosystems. At 1.8 million square kilometers, the region contains rare earth resources, unique biodiversity and sensitive coastlines neighboring the Great Barrier Reef.

Protecting this vast natural landscape is the challenge of Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources and Mines (Department of Resources) to manage. To complement field practices, the Department of Resources turned to satellite imagery to monitor regions of the state.

Bringing recency and reliability to satellite imaging

For years, the Department of Resources relied on annual satellite imagery updates of large regions of the state, often delivered via external hard drive for processing. This led to delays in image analysis, creating critical gaps in information and lags in time-sensitive responses by resource managers. The department recognized the potential to modernize their approach to satellite imaging as a primary tool for monitoring resources, and turned to mapping and GIS specialists NGIS for help.

To build timely and accessible solutions NGIS looked to Planet’ high-cadence imaging and cloud-based delivery. Having consistent and current satellite imagery can greatly improve Department of Resources’ land management practices; Planet’s automated data pipeline offered a fast, reliable cloud infrastructure to the department, and proved recent and complete coverages of the entire state.

Monitoring to understand and protect interconnected ecosystems

Monitoring runoff sediments load in rivers provides data to those working to improve coastal water quality and reef health. Image captured May 6, 2017.

Planet imaging and NGIS analysis revealed new capabilities in environmental monitoring and protection for Queensland. For example, connecting rainfall data in key catchment areas and tracking uplands vegetation could help managers and scientists understand the connection between land and coastal reef health.

In instances of extreme events, Planet data is also helping the Department of Resources respond. This May 2017 marked record flooding of Rockhampton, Queensland in the wake of Cyclone Debbie. With daily imaging available before, during and after the flood surge, the Department of Resources could monitor impacts to natural and urban environments, and work with authorities to manage responses to the flood. Planet enabled the Department of Resources to make daily imagery available to the public through the Disaster Data program to help coordinate relief efforts.

With more timely information, the Department of Resources is able to actively respond to and prevent land degradation activities. Land clearing that previously had gone undetected could be identified and documented providing Queensland’s Department of Resources the information to formally engage property owners and deter future incursion of environmentally protected areas. Creating a comprehensive and current picture of the state helps Queensland understand and preserve the complex balances of its unique natural environment.

Images of flooding at the Fitzroy River, Rockhampton, Queensland. With imaging of affected areas captured before (May 27, 2016) and after (April 7, 2017) peak flooding, Planet could help the Department of Resources track impacts and share data to coordinate the disaster response.</font size= “-1”>

Planet imagery is bringing new capabilities to the Department of Resources and other Queensland government agencies. Steve Jacoby, Executive Director, Land & Spatial Information, Department of Resources , says “We are very excited to be working with daily imagery over Queensland that Department of Resources has been able to acquire through the Planet platform. The access to high quality, daily imagery for use by all government agencies under this arrangement sets a new benchmark that we expect will have far-reaching benefits for the state.”

NGIS is currently building tools on Planet API and believes their work with Planet data will serve to disrupt land management practices for government ministries moving forward.

Learn more about Planet Monitoring for your territory.

Read the full story of the NGIS and Planet project in Queensland.