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Drones can help reforestation — if enough seeds take root

Researchers have identified 10 plantation drone companies, university studies in India, and government reforestation efforts in New Zealand and Madagascar. In Myanmar, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates, drones are used to plant mangrove trees because trees planted near the equator take up more carbon than trees planted elsewhere.

However, researchers said that few companies share success rates or study seed fares after being dropped into a drone. They called on those involved in drone sowing to be more open about their results. They call their pledge to grow one billion trees a year “promotion.”

Mikey Mohan is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Berkeley and the lead author of this treatise. He believes the commitment to grow a billion trees is primarily a promotional tactic by companies seeking to raise money from investors. He said half of the social media posts about drone tree planting were related to the promise to plant a billion trees.

He said that what really matters is the number of seeds that grow into a tree after a few years, not the number of seeds that can be dropped to the ground in a day.

Researchers have found that the survival of some coniferous seeds ranges from 0 to 20 percent, similar to previous efforts to drop seeds from planes and helicopters in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Cited the 2020 study by. Like other companies in the field, DroneSeed hasn’t said how many trees have been planted so far. The company doesn’t reveal its customers’ names, but says it works with three of the five largest timber companies in the United States and nonprofits such as Nature Conservancy.

Last month, 5-year-old DroneSeed acquired SilvaSeed, a 130-year-old, one of the largest private forest seed providers on the west coast of the United States. By the way, SilvaSeed grows more saplings each year than the Cal Fire Reforestation Center. Grant Canary, CEO of DroneSeed, told WIRED that the acquisition was driven because the Climate Action Reserve, which tracks the environmental benefits of emission reduction projects, now includes the benefits of reforestation.

“What we see in reforestation and carbon credits is that we can see that we have the resources to take the burned land and replant it,” says Canary.

To make the seeds dropped by the drone more viable, companies apply machine learning and imaging techniques to choose the best location for tree planting and guide the drone’s flight path. They wrap seeds in pellets made of materials such as clay and soil, and sometimes shoot them into the ground. Each seed capsule is designed to contain the water and nutrients needed to start seeding.

For example, DroneSeed contains peppers to prevent squirrels and other wildlife from eating blood vessels that are as large as a hockey puck. There are many ways to make these seed carrying cases. Some contain a single seed, but according to Dendra Systems, up to 50 seeds of trees, shrubs, and native grasses can be packed in a single capsule.

Bryce Jones, CEO of Flash Forest, who was asked to comment on the allegations, said the company plans to plant a billion trees by 2028.

Formerly known as Biocarbon Engineering, Dendra Systems is one of the oldest and most well-known companies that use drones to plant trees. CEO Susan Graham said the company was founded with the belief that it wasn’t using enough technology, mainly because humanity hasn’t slowed down the population of trees yet.

“If we can do it on a large scale, we can solve biodiversity challenges, livelihood challenges, and carbon challenges all in one,” she said.

She doesn’t say how many trees the company has planted. She says ecologists are hired to validate the results and the results of their work are personally shared with their customers. She says Dendra is currently focusing on the total acreage that can be restored, not on the number of trees planted.

Former Dendra CEO Lauren Fletcher said he came up with the idea of ​​planting trees with a drone in 2008. He was one of the first CEOs to pledge a billion trees. He believes the drone planting company hasn’t achieved that goal yet, but it’s worth it as an example of the big idea needed to tackle the global ecosystem restoration problem.

“In fact, people understand trees. They can see, touch, feel, and it’s much easier to sell,” he said. “Try selling soil microbes.”

Fletcher is currently working with Dendra Systems co-founder Irina Fedrenco to plant trees with small drones, especially for small landowners. Flying Forests hopes to use drones to plant trees in 30 countries through a partnership with We Robotics. We are investigating projects in Kenya, Panama and Uganda.

Drones can help reforestation — if enough seeds take root

Source link Drones can help reforestation — if enough seeds take root

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