The research described in this paper deals with the documentation of hiking trails in alpine areas. The study presents a novel research topic, applying up-to-date survey techniques and top quality equipment with practical applications in nature conservation. The research presents the initial part of the process—capturing imagery, photogrammetric processing, quality checking, and a discussion on possibilities of the further data analysis. The research described in this article was conducted in the Tatra National Park (TNP) in Poland, which is considered as one of the most-visited national parks in Europe. The exceptional popularity of this place is responsible for intensification of morphogenetic processes, resulting in the development of numerous forms of erosion. This article presents the outcomes of research, whose purpose was to verify the usability of UAVs to check the condition of hiking trails in alpine areas. An octocopter equipped with a non-metric camera was used for measurements. Unlike traditional methods of measuring landscape features, such a solution facilitates acquisition of quasi-continuous data that has uniform resolution throughout the study area and high spatial accuracy. It is also a relatively cheap technology, which is its main advantage over equally popular laser scanning. The paper presents the complete methodology of data acquisition in harsh conditions and demanding locations of hiking trails on steep Tatra slopes. The paper also describes stages that lead to the elaboration of basic photogrammetric products relying on structure from motion (SfM) technology and evaluates the accuracy of the materials obtained. Finally, it shows the applicability of the prepared products to the evaluation of the spatial reach and intensity of erosion along hiking trails, and to the study of plant succession or tree stand condition in the area located next to hiking trails.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited