According to a former NASA engineer, drone technology could plant thousands of trees with industrial-scale reforestation.
Usually when we think of drones, we imagine the military kind that wipes out enemies or the kind that might deliver Amazon orders one day. But according to former NASA engineer Lauren Flethcer, drones have another incredibly beneficial use – saving forests. Fletcher’s plan is to launch a start-up called BioCarbon Engineering, with the goal of creating 36,000 trees a day by dropping pre-germinated seeds from flying drones.
“We are going to counter industrial scale deforestation using industrial scale reforestation,” Fletcher said. “The only way we’re going to take on these age-old problems is with techniques that weren’t available to us before. By using this approach we can meet the scale of the problem out there.”
BioCarbon’s website lays out the details, but in short there are many benefits to drone seeding. It’s much faster than planting by hand, saves on manpower, and allows mapping UAVs to provide data on planting patterns. The downside is that seeding with drones costs about 15 percent more than traditional methods – but replanting 36,000 trees is undeniably more effective than many current tree-planting programs.
What’s more, tree planting is only the first step of Fletcher’s program. “Together with tree seeds,” he continued, “we hope to seed in other species including micro-organisms and fungi to improve the soil quality and ensure long-term sustainability of our efforts.” For a technology so many people still associate with warfare, that’s not bad at all.