Deforestation is a global problem with no large scale solutions. Currently there are an estimated 26 billion trees burned every year with only 15 billion trees being replanted. My question though is how many trees are cut down, burned and how many go unaccounted for? I’d say the number between trees being cut down or burned is far greater than the ratio above. Take a look at the amazon rainforest for example, the largest rainforest and unique biodiversity (with what I believe has a cure for every illness and ailment) all within it’s rich bio-diverse ecosystem yet it’s torn down every single day to make room for cattle to feed fast food eaters here in America and worldwide.
We need a solution, actually make that plural, we need at least a few ideas for solutions that can grow larger and scale to begin to tackle this global problem. That’s where Lauren Fletcher comes in, he’s the CEO of Biocarbon Engineering and former Nasa engineer. He has a solution for the growing deforestation problem. He plans to use drones to plant 1 billion (yes, billion with a ‘b’) trees a year.
Drone planting is much cheaper and faster than hand planting. Hand planting is a slow and tedious task, this is not to say that hand planting does no good! By all means get out and plant trees and teach your children the value of the soil and teach them to get their hands dirty, it’s a good lesson in mother nature and our connection to it.
Lauren has a plan though, and that is to plant 1 billion trees. It’s an ambitious plan especially since he’s the first man to plant trees using drones and to plant trees on that scale is quite incredible.
BioCarbon’s system for planting is really quite sophisticated, and should provide better uptake than traditional dry seeding by air. First, drones flies above an area and report on its potential for restoration, then they descend to two or three metres above ground and fire out pods containing seeds that are pre-germinated and covered in a nutritious hydrogel.
They plan on having two operators manning multiple drones, Fletcher thinks it should be possible to plant up to 36,000 trees a day, and at around 15% of the cost of traditional methods. That’s quite an improvement in speed and cost efficiency.
A prototype for the system impressed at the Drones for Good competition in the United Arab Emirates, and the company hopes to have fully-working versions by the end of the summer.
“The only way we’re going to take on these age-old problems is with techniques that weren’t available to us before,” CEO and former Nasa-engineer Lauren Fletcher said. “By using this approach we can meet the scale of the problem out there.”
I only have one hope for Lauren and this technology. I hope that they stick to trees that have evolved through natural selection and not venture into planting untested and unproven seeds (GMO) on a mass scale. That would be a science experiment on nature gone horribly wrong. You can learn more about Lauren Fletcher and his company at biocarbonengineering.com, best of luck to them!