Tree planting drones aim to fight deforestation

Drones are being considered for everything from delivering packages to filming TV shows yet one company is looking into drone capabilities for creating the oxygen we breathe.

BioCarbon Engineering is developing drones to help fight deforestation by planting trees.

Every year, 26 billion trees are lost to deforestation and 15 billion are replanted.

To help with the shortage, BioCarbon CEO Lauren Fletcher believes drones can narrow the planting gap. His company hopes to plant 1 billion trees a year with unmanned aerial vehicles.

First, a drone maps the terrain and creates a 3D map of the area, which allows researchers to plan a planting pattern.

Next, a drone uses precision planting to fire seeds coated in a nutritious hydrogel into the ground.

Researchers hope the seeds will have a higher success rate than trees planted by hand.

It’s also a lot cheaper.

BioCarbon Engineering
One company is hoping to plant up to a billion trees a year with drones. Photo: BioCarbon Engineering

Fletcher told Fast Company drone planting could be about 15 percent of the cost of traditional planting methods.

“Global deforestation is happening at an industrial scale. Governments and organizations are spending billions planting trees, but the standard method of hand-planting can’t keep up,” Fletcher told Wired.

The drones can also get to hard to reach areas not easily accessible by humans.

Fletcher is hoping to start planting trees in Brazil or South America but first, his team has to make sure the trees grow properly.

“The key is to make sure the trees grow properly. After that, we’re hoping to dramatically lower the cost of planting trees so that we can inspire governments to invest in reforestation projects,” Fletcher said.

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