When a wildfire destroys the forest on your property, what are your options for restoring what has been lost?
DroneSeed will fly a squadron of seed-dispersing aerial robots to lay the foundations for a new forest atop ones that have been torched.
Carrying 57 pounds of tree seeds, the drones weigh over 100 pounds in total, and operate in teams of five using satellite-guided software to identify hundreds of “microsites”—areas where trees will be expected to grow the best.
Holders of the only Federal Aviation Administration license for operating “heavy lift drone swarms,” DroneSeed can seed the ground 6x faster than hand-planting seedlings can—covering around 40 acres per day at a cost of around $275 to $400 per acre.
This may seem like a lot, but as well as saving a huge amount of time—a lot of the cost can be offset with discounts offered by DroneSeed if they can successfully offer the land’s reforestation as carbon credits on the global carbon market. This can help make the cost of planting seedlings 60-70% less than traditional reforesting.
“We are always looking for ways to innovate, especially when it can help us increase the pace and scale of habitat restoration to benefit both nature and people,” says Jay Kerby, Project Manager at The Nature Conservancy, which was able to contract DroneSeed for Oregon state reforestation after a recent fundraising event.
Right now the company is in beta-testing for their software, but the team feels it’s a game changer that can be used to totally update the playbook for how to combat global climate emissions.
“Across the world there’s been a lot of slash and burn agriculture, so how do you go out and replant those in a cost effective way? And that’s where our technology comes in,” says Grant Canary, CEO of DroneSeed.
An obvious implication is restoration after wildfires on public land, for which DroneSeed would save a lot of taxpayer dollars if contracted. But not all American forests are owned by the government, and for a private owner DroneSeed could be a real help.
For those to whom forests act as a livelihood as sources of lumber, honey, resin, mushrooms, or other agroforestry products, there’s every chance that their business is over if a wildfire moves across their land. But the sheer amount of labor, time, and costs saved by DroneSeed’s technology gives a chance for not only their forests to regrow, but their lives too.