Tree Planting: Canadian scientists plan to help fight climate change by using drones to plant one billion trees by 2028!
Is this just wishful thinking, or is it a very ambitious, but realistic, challenge and goal?
Flash Forest is the company that is in the forefront of this reforestation plan, using drone data to determine what the best areas for planting trees are, that is, the areas where the soil absorb the most carbon dioxide, with an average density of 2,000 per hectare. In addition to providing data, drones will also be actually planting the trees. They confidently estimate that one drone operator can plant as many as 100,000 seed pods per day.
Flash Forest is the Canadian company that uses a pneumatic machine attached to a drone to plant the seed pods. Each vessel contains three germinated seeds as well as other species which support the area, a fungus called mycorrhizae which helps plants to develop, fertilizers, and other “secret” ingredients. After planting, a spray drone will cover the area with nutrients such as nitrogen to help the seedlings grow. A mapping drone is later sent out to monitor their progress.
According to the science and engineering graduates behind the project, they make the claim that their methods are 10 times faster and 20 percent cheaper than traditional tree planting techniques. It is their hope that this will enable them to effectively and efficiently target areas which have been harvested and ravaged by wildfires.
Flash Forest cites the “International Panel of Climate Change” on their website with the warning that we have only 10 years “to reverse climate change and prevent catastrophic run-away effects on our species and civilization.”
The statistics are ominous: the amount of carbon dioxide released by humans has been increasing since the pre-industrial era (a time before there were machines and tools to help perform tasks en masse), and the advent of the Industrial Revolution, which occurred from 1750 to 1850 began significant increase in the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air. This is why the amount of carbon dioxide amounted to as much as 34 billion tons in 2018, which is more than can be naturally absorbed, according to the scientists.
In addition to such serious statistics, we also need to be aware of the fact that our planet loses 13 billion trees per year but only regains less than half, according to the team that works for Flash Forest company. They claim that planting trees is the “fastest and cheapest” way to sequester carbon, as a tree soaks up over 40 pounds of CO2 per year on average.
Even though Flash Forest opened for business just last August, 2019, they were able to complete their first pilot test in Southern Ontario where they used their “manual firing mechanism” to plant over 100 pods of White Pine, White Birch, White Spruce, and Red Maple trees, and the seeds have since sprouted.
They started a second project in just a month later whereby the group of workers used a drone to plant 1,033 pods. And in October, Flash Forest achieved a new high by planting 165 trees in three minutes. Over the course of two days, they deposited over 2,000 trees of seven species in Southern Ontario.
This young company has an impressive record already. According to their website, within just over a year they have planted 469 White Spruce, 344 White Pine, around 327 Blue Spruce, 225 Red Maple, 790 White Birch, 621 Sugar Maple, 131 Douglas Fir, and 199 Balsam Fir.”
The Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, made international headlines last year by warning about the serious loss of vital carbon sink due to fires and deforestation. In fact, they issued an editorial in the journal Science Advances, with the dire warning that the rainforest has started to self-destruct, but that only “a major reforestation project” can save it.
Flash Forest is an example of a very young company ventured into a very ambitious program at a time when climate change and related issues like deforestation, are existential issues that need to be addressed before it is too late.
Drones are making a huge difference here, as they are in numerous industries and markets, and with the improvements in drone technology there is no reason to think that drones will play a crucial role in this, and many other, serious challenges.