Using Drones to Replant Lost Forests
Nikkei Asian Review (December 21, 2017)

The Phantom whirred skyward, hovered, then veered off to skim over a tropical forest, peering into its tangled, soaring canopy. It was a test mission for this agile drone -- not to target an enemy hiding below, but to bring new life to woodlands by ''bombing'' them with cascades of seeds.

Directing the drone team from a grassy knoll at the forest's edge was Stephen Elliott, a biologist and pioneer in the regrowth of perhaps the Earth's most complex ecosystem -- a tropical forest. Now, he is breaching another frontier: preparing to harness drones for work that currently requires intensive manual labor in remote, treacherous terrain where humans are loath to tread.

A drone, mounted with an air gun, will be able to seed a hectare of deforested land in less than half an hour -- a job that would take four people using conventional tree-planting methods more than six sweaty days.

These savings in time and effort could help to combat climate change by promoting a global recovery for forests, which are being felled at a rate of some 48 football fields every minute, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. To suck climate change-inducing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, the United Nations' New York Declaration on Forests in 2014 set a goal to reforest 350 million hectares -- a size comparable to India -- by 2030.

Read the full article here.