An Australian engineer wants to use drones to plant 1 billion trees each year to combat an ongoing global catastrophe.
Deforestation and forest degradation account for 17% of global carbon emissions, more than the entire global transport sector, according to the United Nations.
Burned or logged forests release the carbon dioxide they store into the atmosphere, and restoration experts say technology has a major role to play in solving the problem.
Dr. Susan Graham helped build a drone system that can scan the terrain, identify ideal spots to grow trees, and then shoot the sprouted seeds into the ground.
Drones can plant in previously inaccessible areas.
The planet loses 15 billion trees every year and much of it is cut down for farmland to feed the growing world population, but there are fears this could worsen climate change.
His company, BioCarbon Engineering, is backed by one of the largest drone manufacturers in the world.
Reforestation on an industrial scale
Dr. Graham’s system plants at 10 times the speed of manual planting and at 20% the cost.
The drone can carry 150 pods at a time.
It shoots one per second, which means that a couple of operators will be able to plant nearly 100,000 trees a day: with 60 teams, they could reach a billion trees a year.
The drone fires according to a predefined planting pattern, determined from an algorithm, which uses information from another reconnaissance drone.
To determine the best possible place to plant, the team uses the drone to map the area, seeking to create a 3D model of the terrain.
Data is uploaded and thanks to the algorithms developed, intelligent decisions are made on exactly where to plant and how to manage the ecosystems.
The way we plant trees today is very similar to the way we planted them hundreds of years ago. There is therefore a lot of room for innovation to increase the success rate of tree planting and also to improve the maintenance and monitoring of restored land.
Restoring the land can provide food for 200 million people. This is because planting trees adds vital nutrients and organic matter to the soil. Many of the world’s largest cities depend on forests for their water supply; For example, in the United States, more than half of drinking water comes from forests, which act like giant sponges. Trees are essential in the fight against climate change because half the weight of a tree is carbon and essentially trees will pull carbon out of the atmosphere where it is dangerous, and into the soil where it supports life.
More information: dynamicbusiness.com.au