Technology has long been associated with its role as a major contributor to climate change. However, a groundbreaking initiative is harnessing the power of technology to undo the environmental damage incurred since the Industrial Age began.
In Myanmar, a trailblazing project launched in September 2018 employed drones to launch “seed missiles” into remote areas with limited tree growth. The astounding outcome: within less than a year, these seed missiles sprouted into 20-inch mangrove saplings, showcasing the potential of technology to offer innovative solutions in the face of the pressing climate crisis.
Irina Fedorenko, the co-founder of Biocarbon Engineering, expressed enthusiasm about the progress made: “We now have a confirmed case of the species we can plant and the conditions suitable for their growth. We are prepared to scale up our planting efforts and replicate this success.”
400,000 trees per day
According to Fedorenko, a mere two operators can deploy a fleet of seed missile-planting drones, capable of planting a staggering 400,000 trees per day. This remarkable scale of reforestation has the potential to make significant strides in combating the adverse effects of human-induced climate change.
The drones responsible for this feat were developed by a former NASA engineer. With the urgent need to reforest an area in Myanmar equivalent to the size of Rhode Island, the challenge is substantial but now seemingly attainable. Bremley Lyngdoh, founder, and CEO of World Impact explained that reseeding that area could potentially accommodate up to 1 billion new trees.
Lyngdoh noted, “Clearly, planting a billion trees would be a lengthy process without the assistance of drones.” But, having a powerful ally on their side, things change — as a point of comparison, it took the Worldview Foundation 7 years to plant 6 million trees in Myanmar; with the aid of drones, their goal was set to plant an additional 4 million trees by the end of 2019.
Helping to fight the climate change
Myanmar serves as an ideal case study for this project. Besides offering available land for the drone initiative, the country has been significantly impacted by the early consequences of climate change in recent years. Rising sea levels have already affected the population. In addition to their capacity to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, thriving trees can help stabilize the soil, mitigating the soil erosion issues that have afflicted local communities in Myanmar.
Looking ahead, technologies like seed-planting drones could help stem the tide of catastrophic climate change while governments and societies focus on transforming the behaviors of consumers and corporations driving the problem. Our insatiable appetite for new technology may have contributed to climate change and deforestation, but it may also hold the solution to these challenges.