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  • Tree-planting drones to help combat deforestation

    2015 - 10.19

    Drones have already been hailed as an increasingly important weapon in the arsenal of the armies of organisations trying to combat deforestation. But the uses of this next technology appear to be extending even further.

    Drones have started to be used as a means of monitoring deforestation. By flying the pilotless machines above forest land, an organisation can spot areas where trees are being illegally felled. Moreover, due to the fact that the drone relays images in real time, police enforcement can act immediately should a perpetrator be caught in the act.

    However, while this use has become well established over the past two years, now another company is looking to use drones in a different way to combat deforestation. The British engineering firm BioCarbon Engineering is seeking international backing to develop the first automated tree-planting drones.

    The start-up, which is based in Oxford, has said that drones could be used to plant as many as one billion trees around the world every year. With the planet losing around six billion trees every year, these tree-planting drones would represent a major tool in reversing the damage that is being done.

    Speaking at a recent UN Solutions Summit in New York, Susan Graham, an engineer at BioCarbon Engineering, said that should the company's plan go ahead, the specially developed fixed-wing drones will take detailed images of a particular area to tell the company about its nutrients, biodiversity and topology.

    She continued: "We then churn that data through an algorithm to generate a precision planting pattern, which we upload into our quadcopter… This flies at between two and three metres above the ground and fires a biodegradable seed pod at each position, which contains all the nutrients for healthy tree growth."

    Forestry investors and supporters of forest conservation, such as Greenwood Management, are recognising the vital role technology will play in the battle against deforestation. Drones, it would appear, are to be on the front line of this battle.

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