Using Drones to Plant Entire Forests

When drones are brought up in the news it’s usually because they are used to kill, here’s a story about drones bringing life. A company, BioCarbon Engineering, has demonstrated how to se drones to plant forests more efficiently than other methods.

It’s a rather simple process with incredibly complex software: send one drone to survey the planting site then send a second drone towrope seeds. The seeds will only be dropped in areas marked with good growth potential. Of course, this approach is a reaction to deforestation, it would be even more efficient to stop deforestation before it happens. Still, faster regrowth is better than slow to no regrowth of forests.

Here’s a video of the drones in operation:

The drones, from the startup BioCarbon Engineering, can plant as many as 100,000 trees in a single day, leaving the local community to focus on taking care of the young trees that have already started to grow. In September, the company will begin a drone-planting program in the area along with Worldview International Foundation, the nonprofit guiding local tree-planting projects. To date, the organization has worked with villagers to plant an area of 750 hectares, about twice the size of Central Park; the drones will help cover another 250 hectares with 1 million additional trees. Ultimately, the nonprofit hopes to use drones to help plant 1 billion trees in an even larger area.

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Drone Built By A Small Tribe Is Protecting Land

We Built a Drone from Digital Democracy on Vimeo.

In Guyana there are a lot of illegal mining and logging operations that the government doesn’t pursue due to a lack of evidence. To protect their lands from such activity a small tribe, the Wapichan community, have built a drone to record the damage being done. They used videos on YouTube to find out how to build the drone and designed their drone to be repairable using locally found products (like discarded plastics). It’s a good story about how access to technology and knowledge by small groups can have a big impact!

“With the drones, we can go into really inaccessible areas,” Fredericks told Quartz. Using its footage, the Wapichan are assembling a “living map” to document their customary land use—and to demonstrate to the government how outside interests were impinging upon lands the Wapichan have safeguarded for centuries.
Their drone confirmed what the Wapichan had long suspected: In the south, close to the border with Brazil, illegal loggers were harvesting trees in lands that were supposed to be protected. And the gold mine at Marudi Mountain, to the southeast of Shulinab, appeared to be leaching pollution into the headwaters upon which the Wapichan depend.

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Using Drones in Nifty Ways

Toronto Skyline Porn from Ryan Emond on Vimeo.

Remote controlled drones are pretty neat! Sure, the military industrial complex uses them to murder people, but that’s just one way to use the technology. Artists and companies are finding ways to use the technology in nice friendly ways. In Toronto (like other jurisdictions) there are growing concerns about regulations and applications about the drones. Fortunately, the conversation between drone operators and the general public is going well!

Interestingly enough, Toronto Reference Library leads the way in its adoption and popularization of new technologies, drones included. (Take a look at this awesome drone’s eye view of the library tour!) Just a couple of weeks ago, 10,000 people gathered at Toronto Reference Library for Toronto Mini Maker Faire, where X4 Drones flew some smaller aircrafts from its impressive drones fleet. It’s hard to think of a better way to normalize drones than seeing them fly right in the library, one of the most well-known and accessible public spaces in the city.

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Iranian Drone Can Help Lifeguards

An Iranian company has built a drone that can help lifeguards save lives. The drone can carry flotation devices to weak swimmers faster than a lifeguard can. It’s a good use of drone technology and a demonstration of what is possible when we use this tech for helping our everyday existence.

The concept works well, and it’s an excellent example of how powerful drones—which are cheaper and easier to use than just about any other aerial delivery vehicle—can actually be. Here in the US, where the FAA remains steadfast in its desire to squelch the nascent commercial drone industry, this Iranian drone built of Chinese parts sets an example of what can be done when we set our eyes to the skies to do good.

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Using Drones For Studying Ecologies

Drones are popularly associated with American air strikes on civilians and thus have a negative reputation. The technology underlying the drones can be used for good though. One example of a good use of drones is for aerial surveillance of plants and animals in hard to access/expensive areas.

What are our forests really made of? From the air, ecologist Greg Asner uses a spectrometer and high-powered lasers to map nature in meticulous kaleidoscopic 3D detail — what he calls “a very high-tech accounting system” of carbon. In this fascinating talk, Asner gives a clear message: To save our ecosystems, we need more data, gathered in new ways.

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