Australian engineer develops drone capable of planting 1 bln trees per year

Updated 2017-06-25 10:48:12 Xinhua

An Australian engineer has revealed a plan to combat deforestation by using drones to plant one billion trees every year.

Susan Graham, an Australian engineer, revealed on Sunday that she had developed a drone capable of scanning the land for ideal places to grow trees then launch seeds into the soil.

According to United Nations (UN) data, deforestation accounts for 17 percent of the world's carbon emissions, more than the transportation industry.

More than 15 billion trees are lost to the world every year as civilization continues to expand.

Graham said the drone can plant trees in previously inaccessible places, such as the side of steep hills.

"Although we plant about 9 billion trees every year, that leaves a net loss of 6 billion trees," Graham told Australian media on Sunday.

"The rate of replanting is just too slow."

BioCarbon Engineering, the team she is working with, consists of researchers from around the world who have developed the drone that plants at "10 times the rate of hand planning and at 20 percent of the cost."

Lauren Fletcher, BioCarbon Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engineer, said the current design of the drone could carry 150 germinated seeds at a time.

"We're firing at one a second, which means a pair of operators will be able to plant nearly 100,000 trees per day -- 60 teams like this will get us to a billion trees a year," Fletcher said.

The drone has been tested at abandoned mine sites in New South Wales (NSW) that are in need of re-vegetation.

A second drone has been developed for this purpose with the ability to spread seeds over a wider area.

"Coal mines have an enormous amount of land that they need to restore, both on the active mine site, once they've recreated a land form, as well as their offset areas...around the mines," Graham said.

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