Image

How drones are replanting B.C.’s burned forests

5 December 2022

With promises to rejuvenate forests from the air, tree-planting start-ups are looking to supplement shovels and long days of labour with swarms of seed-bearing aerial drones. A growing target: B.C.’s burnt forests.

The charred remains of Douglas fir and Lodgepole pine forests once sent their seeds fluttering through the air — often in the belly or beak of a bird — but not like this. When the six rotors of these heavy-lift drones hum to life, they each propel over 1,500 seeds into an automated swarm that some hope marks the start of a revolution in tree planting.

“Reforestation is arguably the best solution we have for pulling carbon out of the air,” said Bryce Jones, co-founder and CEO of Flash Forest, a Canadian drone tree-planting company with a growing footprint in British Columbia.

“But there’s no technology. It’s literally people with bags and shovels. It’s been the same method for 100 years.” In their short history, aerial drones have transformed our skies — in some cases delivering stunning images or medicine, in others, raining terror on soldiers and civilians alike.

Now, a handful of companies are looking to re-purpose unmanned vehicles. Their goal: germinate landscapes scarred by wildfire, and in so doing, reforest a planet that by one estimate has lost half its trees. Today, a confluence of logging, blight and wildfires is largely to blame for that loss, a deadly mix that in 2021 wiped out enough forest to cover all of New Zealand.

The growing promise of planting from the sky

Aerial planting has long captured the imaginations of people trying to rejuvenate forests. Early records of aerial reforestation can be traced back to Hawaii in the 1930s, when airplanes were used in an attempt to plant trees in hard-to-reach mountainous regions of Honolulu ravaged by wildfire. By many metrics, it failed: the seeds didn’t hit the ground fast enough to take root; loose on the surface, research has found it may have even contributed to an infestation of rodents on the island.

After the Second World War, former Royal Air Force pilot Jack Walters came to the University of British Columbia to study forests. In 1953, he was the first man to put seedlings into plastic “bullets” and fire them into the ground. The seedlings struggled to send their roots through the plastic sheath, but the experiments eventually gave rise to a plug system deployed by tree planters on the ground today.

Decades later, in a paper, he floated the idea of firing the seed bullets from an airplane. Little came of it, until the late 1990s, when U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin Aerospace told a reporter from The Guardian it had adapted Walters’s idea. At the time, a company spokesperson said it could plant 900,000 trees per day with equipment originally designed to plant fields of landmines.

More >>

Source: timescolonist

Read More
Image

Who’s transforming our economy with renewable resources?

The opportunities for converting forestry fibre to renewable resources to replace fossil fuel based products are growing every year. The adoption of bioenergy and related technologies / products in New Zealand and internationally, sourced from forestry and wood products companies ...
Read more
Image

Södra to become the largest producer of kraft lignin in the world

As a step in the strategy of getting more out of every tree, Södra is now establishing a new business to become a world leader in the production of kraft lignin. Södra’s production facility will be the first commercial facility ...
Read more
Image

NZ National Exotic Forest Description survey – data needed

On 1 April 2024, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) sent out the 2024 National Exotic Forest Description (NEFD) survey. The survey is critical for informing wood availability forecasts, which underpin infrastructure and wood processing investment decisions, as well as contributing to a ...
Read more
Image

Unlimited potential of virtual reality for forest thinning

How a virtual reality (VR) and gaming engine could add another tool to the forestry training kit. A future where new foresters are trained to thin trees from the safety of a virtual reality forest before more advanced real-world training could be ...
Read more
Image

Growing the potential of NZ’s forestry sector in partnership

Forestry Minister, Todd McClay, has announced the start of the Government’s plan to restore certainty and confidence in the forestry and wood processing sector. “This government will drive investment to unlock the industry’s economic potential for growth,” Mr McClay says. ...
Read more
Image

Hydrogen powered airships collecting forest data

Kelluu, a Finnish company founded in 2018, offers commercial enterprises and government agencies with data-as-a-service, specialising in monitoring and providing real-time, actionable intelligence on power lines, roads and railways, as well as surveying and monitoring potential environmental issues associated with ...
Read more
Image

Extreme bushfires increasing in number and intensity

Extreme bushfires have more than doubled in frequency and intensity over the past two decades, according to a global study from the University of Tasmania. Published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the research reveals that six of the past seven years have ...
Read more
Image

Forest Flows – key update at Environmental Forestry 2024

The Forest Flows Research Programme shared its data driven results at the Environmental Forestry Conference last week. The programme’s main objectives is to quantify the water use of plants and trees, and the water storage and release in planted forest ...
Read more
Image

Rocket Lab signs record deal for 10 electron launches with Synspective

Rocket Lab USA, a global leader in launch services and space systems, recently announced it has signed the largest Electron launch agreement in the Company’s history; a ten-launch deal with Japanese Earth observation company Synspective. The agreement was announced in ...
Read more