How are drones helping repair forests after wildfires?

Answer: By planting trees!

by / December 4, 2018
Shutterstock/Tono Balaguer

Tree-planting is one of the best ways to help a forest regrow after a wildfire, and its also one of the best ways to curb carbon emissions. But it’s a job that requires a great degree of intelligence in order to know exactly where and how to plant the seeds, as well as a lot of back-breaking manual labor. Human tree-planters, therefore, are few and far between and don’t stay on the job for very long. The solution: Get drones to do it.

Seattle-based startup DroneSeed is the first company to receive FAA approval to perform unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations with payloads of over 55 lbs. The company’s swarms of UAVs are approved to carry up to 115 pounds of seeds or fertilizer or herbicide sprays. The drones follow a preprogrammed route, determined after detailed mapping is performed by a special drone, that tells them where exactly to plant each seed and spray chemicals for optimal growth. The method is incredibly faster and cheaper than the manual method, and DroneSeed has already completed a handful of projects and has a lot more on the horizon.