Flying Seeds are the Future: The New Face of Reforestation
Planting Trees From the Ground Up
In the time it takes to snap your fingers, an acre and a half of tropical forest is lost. This amount of daily destruction to forests is due to deforestation, which is the permanent destruction of forests to make the land available for other uses. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the largest cause of deforestation is agriculture.
In an attempt to address this, reforestation was one of the first practiced climate change solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the United Nations, metropolitan areas emit 80 percent of our planet’s greenhouse gases. Reforestation provides a simple solution to this problem: plant trees and they’ll both drink and store carbon dioxide in the air, resulting in a cooler atmosphere and climate. One problem: with half an acre of forest lost every second, the original boots-on-the-ground method of reforestation can’t repopulate trees quickly enough.
Global Warming Solutions Take to the Sky
Australian engineering company, Biocarbon, decided to focus on technology that can help speed up both the process and likelihood of successful reforestation efforts. Expanding upon the logic of reforesting, they combined it with AI and created a seed planting drone.
This might sound too good to be true and far more futuristic than 2018, but we have arrived.
Before the drone takes flight, it is programmed with data from a statistical analysis on the health of the environment it is targeting—this includes topography, vegetation type, and plant health. Once that’s done, it is given a planting pattern and loaded with a variety of bullet-shaped species to promote biodiversity. Now equipped with a mission, the drone is ready to go.
Once overhead, the drone shoots a “tree bullet” into the ground at the precise depth and position necessary to support the growth of a healthy tree. The capabilities of the drone are immense. Biocarbon has plans to build out an army of 10,000 of these drones, each of which can plant up to 100,000 trees a day—that’s an estimated 1 billion trees in a year!
In addition to the Biocarbon drones, other ways of reforesting are arising. For instance, in her book Seedbombs: Going Wild with Flowers, Josie Jeffrey describes how “seed bombs” can be used to plant species in hard to reach areas. Thrown over walls or fences into difficult to reach areas, the “bomb” is a tiny circular ball made up of a seed, clay, and compost, all of which facilitates the plant species growth and health. An ancient Japanese practice called Tsuchi Dango, meaning ‘Earth Dumpling’, seed bombs are a tried and true method.
Again, today more than ever, we have the opportunity to match science and technology with key opportunities to help reverse some of the harmful changes our species has made to our planet. It’s an exciting time to be able to deliver new-to-the-world technological solutions that, quite literally, bloom.