Environmentalist Start-Up Wants to Plant 1 Billion Trees per Year with Drones

Environmentalist Start-Up Wants to Plant 1 Billion Trees per Year with Drones 1 photo
Remember UAE’s Drone for Good contest in February? It turns out the idea truly is clever, since a long range of start-ups have made their plans world renown. One of the teams to sign up is BioCarbon Engineering, an environmentalist company that wants to use emerging technologies and drones to change the world. How? By planting 1 billion trees per year.
Wherever we look, we see ecologists telling us that we cut trees down a lot faster than we replant them and that this is one of the main reasons the world’s climate is changing. Decades have past and the green fighters still haven't found a way to speed up the pace at which we heal our planet.

Sure, cars are getting more and more efficient, thus consuming less fuel and poluting less. Hybrids and EVs are getting more popular by the day. It’s still not enough though.

BioCarbon CEO Lauren Fletcher believes that we should use technology in our interest and start replacing manpower with drone power. “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.”

A three-phase approach

There are at least three different approaches moulded in one BioCarbon Engineering is using. First they map the terrain, gathering detailed data in order to produce high-quality 3D maps of farmland, plantations and areas to be restored.

Then there’s the planting phase. The drones will be planting germinated seeds using precision agriculture techniques. This way the engineers claim the uptake rates are being increased significantly. The scalable, automated technology also reduces the manpower requirements and costs.

Last but not least comes the monitoring phase. Planting audits will be conducted through the use of our mapping devices. This information will help to provide assessments of ecosystem health over time.

36,000 trees planted in a day

Fletcher estimates that a properly-equipped drone could plant at a rate of 10 seed pods per minute. With two operators taking care of multiple drones, he believes it would be possible to plant up to 36,000 trees in a day. As to the costs, in all, UAV-seeding could go as low as to 15 percent of what the traditional methods ask for.

As we said, the plan is quite dauntless, but it seems some steps have already been taken. Besides the Drone for Good competition, the team also won last year’s Skoll Foundation Award, worth $1.25 million. Finally, we get to talk about a wise use of UAVs, something other than wars and spying on your neighbor...

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