How can an innovative drone fight against deforestation?

A British start-up is developing a high-tech solution to plant a billion trees a year, helping to fight deforestation and protect the environment worldwide.

How technology protects the environment?

Deforestation continues to progress despite the best efforts to protect the environment. Illegal logging, land clearing and habitat destruction represent a global net loss of approximately 6.6 billion trees per year. Deforestation is a complex problem associated with many causes and difficulties, but one point remains easy to grasp: since tree planting is time-consuming and expensive, reforestation has not been able to keep pace with deforestation. Faced with this reality, the British start-up BioCarbon Engineering has set itself the goal of exploiting an advanced system to revolutionise the activity of plantation and thus help to restore precious habitats while ensuring a sustainable supply of forest products. 

Production and consumption model of 

This objective is fully in line with that of the EU, which is to move away from the production and consumption model of “take, make and throw away” in favour of a sustainable circular economy. BioCarbon Engineering has benefited from an EU grant aimed at supporting the eco-innovation efforts of small businesses and encouraging an environmentally friendly supply of raw materials. This grant helped fund Phase 1 of the project, dedicated to building a comprehensive supply chain, strong business model and go-to-market strategy. The team also wanted to plan a large-scale pilot solution for automated planting, and demonstrate it in different ecosystems in Europe. 

Economical and faster method of reforestation

The four-month project was completed at the end of March 2016. The new planting system consists of two unmanned aircraft (one for mapping, the other for planting) and machine learning software. The technique is totally automated, and promises to be a much more economical and faster method of reforestation. The company estimates that an unmanned aircraft can plant ten seeds per minute. Once deployed on a large scale, the solution should make it possible to plant one billion seeds per year. In addition to the advantages in terms of cost and speed, the new technique offers other advantages. The mapping system increases the success rate of plantations and the likelihood of growing healthy forests.

Technology produces nutritious hydrogel that guarantees.

 And since the planting is done by a flying device, it can reach areas inaccessible by road. Seeds are prepared in the form of capsules, which are “ejected” into the ground by a drone, capable of quickly planting a large number of trees. Each capsule can contain already sprouted seeds, in a nutritious hydrogel that guarantees the necessary supply of minerals and water. This technique is radically different from current methods of planting trees by hand or air-spreading dry seeds.

 Planting by hand is slow and expensive, and spreading dry seed has a low success rate. This news would help countries fulfil their obligations to protect the environment. It is clear that traditional planting techniques will not respect the goal of the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris, which was to replant 350 million hectares of destroyed land and forests by 2030. The next steps will be to scale up this innovative solution, continue to perfect the method of planting bolls, and to attract investors and partners to commercialise the concept. For more information, please see:

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