Tree bombing: Canadian company hopes to use drones to plant a billion trees by 2028

Canadian start-up Flash Forest has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its plan to use drones to plant a billion trees by 2028.

The idea is to use autonomous drones fitted with a pneumatic mechanism to fire seed pods into the ground from the air.

The pods contain germinated seeds, fertilisers and a "secret ingredient", and are planted at "an ideal depth". The company says this technology can plant trees 10 times faster than manual methods, and at 80% of the cost.

As well as planting, the company plans to use drones to map the areas to be forested, and to spray fertiliser on the saplings.

The company carried out its first tests of the technology in August, and successfully planted more than 100 white pine, white birch, white spruce and red maples at a site in southern Ontario.

It says these seeds successfully sprouted. It then planted 1,000 trees in September and 2,000 in October. In the October test, Flash Forest tested automation software that allowed a singe drone to plant 165 trees in three minutes.

The Kickstarter initiative is intended to raise CA$50,000 to finance the purchase of automation equipment to produce the pods for planting. The company hopes to begin planting in April next year with the goal of 150,000 trees by the end of the year.

Image: Flash Forest’s concept

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