Flash Forward

Flash Forest plans to combat global deforestation with drone technology

A young company aims to curb deforestation with seed-planting drones. (Molnar Szabolcs Erdely/Pixabay)

To combat the foreseeable effects of climate change, few proposals seem too farfetched to be taken seriously. While change should come primarily from global shifts in political and cultural attitudes, technological advancements are undoubtedly playing a large role in the fight against environmental degradation. One such development with seemingly limitless potential is a Kickstarter project developed by Toronto-based company Flash Forest that proposes the use of drones to plant over 1 billion trees globally by 2028.

“We started Flash Forest with one clear goal: healing our planet’s lungs,” the Kickstart reads. “Until that job is done well, no other job matters.”

Over time, deforestation has contributed to climatic instability with a gradual decrease in biodiversity and an increase in airborne carbon dioxide. According to Flash Forest, planet Earth loses 13 billion trees and regains only half of them each year. While several companies and think tanks are devising strategies to rapidly plant trees through a variety of methods, Flash Forest believes that drone reforestation is the most efficient solution. A single drone can plant over 20,000 seeds in a day—over ten times as much as a human planter—while also eliminating the 22 percent injury rate and excessive water use.

These heavy-lift drones are each equipped with a pneumatic firing device that can insert planting pods into the soil at an ideal depth with minimal error. Every pod contains at least three pre-germinated seeds as well as a cocktail of ingredients that aid in the seeds’ growth. A second drone will sweep the same ground covered by the first and spray the soil with nitrogen and other nutrients to promote expedient growth. According to the company’s webpage, they are working closely with forestry experts and botanists, while also using a multi-spectral mapping UAV technology that helps them locate the best planting sites and track its overall health.

Flash Forest has already exceeded its goal of raising $7,684 in the Kickstarter campaign and is now seeking a total of $100,000 before it ends on January 18. Currently, the company has raised $50,880.
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