These drones will plant 1 billion trees by 2028

Flash Forest, a Canadian startup, will use its drone technology to plant 40,000 trees every month. It will plant trees in Toronto, specifically in an area that was previously ravaged by wildfire.

It will expand to other regions and has planted hundreds of thousands of trees by the end of 2020. Flash Forest targets to plant 1 billion trees by 2028.

Like other startups, Flash Forest believes that technology can help the world achieve ambitious goals to restore forests to stem biodiversity loss and fight climate change.

Stock photo from unsplash.com

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believes that 1 billion hectares of trees—a forest roughly the size of the entire United States— must be planted in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Moreover, existing forests need to be protected as new trees are planted. At present, this isn’t working well.

“There are a lot of different attempts to tackle reforestation,” says Flash Forest cofounder and chief strategy officer Angelique Ahlstrom. “But despite all of them, they’re still failing, with a net loss of 7 billion trees every year.”

Drones don’t address deforestation, which is arguably an even more critical issue than planting trees, since older trees can store much more carbon. But to restore forests that have already been lost, the drones can work more quickly and cheaply than humans planting with shovels.

Flash Forest’s tech can currently plant 10,000 to 20,000 seed pods a day; as the technology advances, a pair of pilots will be able to plant 100,000 trees in a day (by hand, someone might typically be able to plant around 1,500 trees in a day, Ahlstrom says.)

The company aims to bring the cost down to 50 cents per tree, or around a fourth of the cost of some other tree restoration efforts.

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