Tree-planting Drone that can help restore forests

Drones complement helicopters and light-wing wing aeroplanes that can also be used for mass distribution.

Whether used for expensive video production or to deliver medical packages to remote areas, drones are the latest innovations that lend themselves to multiple uses.

Sad to put it this way, but while the biggest contributor to climate change might be technology, it is also our best bet in recovering what is lost. 

Tree planting has never been an issue with Kenyans. Fact: we have all planted a tree or attended a tree-planting event. If not, a politician came to your school and planted trees. 

The problem is with the backbreaking labour of manually planting trees in remote terrain. 

Using drones to plant trees may be the game changer and soon be part of a forester’s toolkit. 

Kenya Flying Labs (KFL), a non-profit organization, has partnered with environmental champions, agribusiness-oriented organisations, and the government in conservation efforts, to increase the country’s forest cover and improve the agriculture sector. 

According to the CEO Cleopa Otieno, KFL seeks to regenerate ecological diversity by seeding indigenous tree species as well as grass in pastoral areas. 

“We work with drones for social good projects. The idea is to use this technology to plant seed balls and our desire is to have this technology augment the other ways tree planting is currently being done,” says Otieno. 

“The idea is to use a seeding mechanism that holds seed balls which can be dropped in any way. In this case, we are using a drone because of its advantage of getting to places ordinarily hard to reach,” he adds. 

In a bid to attain the 10 per cent forest cover by 2030 and fight global warming, the government is taking up every option including, technology. 

“The ministry of environment and forestry in 2019 developed the national strategy of meeting the 10 per cent forest recovery.

 KEFRI was tasked to identify technologies and innovations that will help achieve the 10 per cent. After research, we found that aerial seeding and drone technology is one of the ways that are cost-effective and will cover the country within a short period.” Dr. Jane Njuguna KEFRI. 

How the Tree-planting Drone Works 

This is a specialised drone from a KFL partnership with WeRobotics fully fitted with seed dispensers that easily drops seed balls with precision. 

This allows the team to get into trickier areas where human planters wouldn't be able to enter.  

Seedball is a technology where charcoal dust is processed into small balls and seeds (certified by KARI) of various indigenous tree species put inside the balls. The coating protects the seeds from predators and harsh weather conditions. 

The seed balls can be dispersed anywhere and, with time, when the conditions are right the seeds begin to germinate. 

Using drones to plant trees may be the game changer and soon be part of a forester’s toolkit.

The drones are specialised to dispense the seeds in mapped areas with ease, faster and more cost-effective compared to other methods. 

Drones complement helicopters and light-wing wing aeroplanes that can also be used for mass distribution. 

Kenya’s forest cover stands at 7.2 per cent; according to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. 

This percentage is short of the 10 per cent cover that is to be achieved by 2022. 

Besides providing habitat for animals and livelihoods for humans, forests also offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion and home for wildlife. 

We depend on forests for our survival which is why speeding up reforestation is important in tackling the climate change crisis.?

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