A new drone startup, BioCarbon Engineering, plans to counter industrial scale deforestation by planting 1 billion trees every year using drones. Currently, deforestation rates stand at approximately 26 billion trees a year, with reforestation at 15 billion, and the organisation believes that this deficit can only be combatted by industrial scale, automated reforestation.
CEO Lauren Fletcher claims that the new drones will plant up to 36,000 seeds per day (a single human planter can reach 1,500) and will also be able to access areas impenetrable to humans. Pre-germinated seeds will be fired out at fast enough to penetrate into the soil and covered in a nutritious gel.
The proposal aims to increase uptake rates compared to conventional hand planting by using precision planting and mapping, as well making to process much more time efficient and cost only 15% of traditional methods.
BioCarbon Engineering won a Skoll Foundation award last year and was recently a semi-finalist in the United Arab Emirates Drones for Good competition. They plan to start planting in Brazil or South Africa in 2015.
Image: Ben Britten / Flickr
If this is successful, rapid and inexpensive reforestation could be a key way to regenerate depleted forest regions. This would have benefits for local ecosystem services, conservation efforts and global climate change reduction through carbon sequestration.
How else might drone technology be used to automate efforts for environmental regeneration and climate change mitigation?
Fast Company (2015, April 3) This drone startup has an ambition (crazy) plan to plant 1 billion trees a year
Wired (2015, February 5) Drones could help save the world's forests