War Against Deforestation: Trees To Be Planted Through Drones
The word “drone” gives off a negative vibe, but lately its uses have taken a U-turn. From being used for delivery of goods to providing Internet, another use of drones is being exploited by a UK-based startup, BioCarbon Engineering, that is to plant trees through drones.
With the sharp rise in population and urbanization as a whole, deforestation is drastically being increased every year. With 26 billion trees being destroyed annually, it is impossible for reforestation to be carried out at the same rate – specially through traditional methods like spreading seeds via air or direct planting by hand.
Even though spreading dry seeds is very time-efficient, it does not reap the worthwhile results. This is because the seeds do not always germinate because of lack of ingredients, sunlight or water. While planting seeds through hand is costly in terms of manpower and time, it comes with a higher success rate because the topography is taken into account.
Lauren Fletcher, the brains behind the startup, said that the drones can plant about 10 seeds per minute. If even two operators manned several drones, there will be up to 36,000 trees planted in a day. Fletcher plans to seed a billion trees a year, at 15% of the cost of traditional methods. BioCarbon’s drone utilizes the strengths of both methods – hand-planting and air-borne:
- Creates a high resolution map of the area it will reforest
- Accurately plants the seeds using pressurized air
The seeds are coated in a nutritious hydro-gel to enhance the rate of uptake for growth. The drones will also survey the reforested areas later on to evaluate performance. “By using this approach we can meet the scale of the problem out there,” said Fletcher.