The Internet at the Speed of Thought

Former NASA Engineer Wants to Save World’s Forests in Most Ingenious Way

at 2:52 pm | By

Sowing the seeds for a better future.

Deforestation is one of the biggest ongoing disasters facing the world today, and we’re the ones to blame.

Whether for profit, land, or simply as a way to provide for one’s family, forests across the world are being torn down at alarming rates. According to National Geographic, while forests cover approximately 30% of the Earth’s surface, areas the size of Panama are lost each year, and if we continue at our current rate of deforestation, the world’s rainforests could totally disappear within a hundred years.

The effects of deforestation are many and the impacts are felt by all, whether or not we know it. The majority of the world’s plant and land animal species live in forests, and the loss of their habitat is a clear path to extinction. On the human end, deforestation prompts climate change by disrupting the water cycle, reducing the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, and dangerously altering temperature patterns that forests typically help to moderate.

Simply reversing the devastating effects of deforestation may seem simple: plant more trees. Unfortunately, our current methods of reforestation largely include manually planting seeds, which is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and limited to the places that humans can easily access.

Now, a former NASA engineer and his company have a plan that would incorporate popular modern technology to start a green revolution on the planet.

biocarbon engineering deforestaation

Source: Shutterstock/ Mopic

He wants to use household technology to save the planet’s forests…

BioCarbon Engineering

biocarbon engineering ceo lauren fletcher nasa

Credit: Vimeo/ Zee/ BioCarbon Engineering

“How do we reverse the damage that we’ve done?” asks BioCarbon Engineering CEO Lauren Fletcher. The former NASA engineer now dedicates his time to the company, which was founded in 2014 and is based in Oxford, UK. More specifically, he has become obsessed with the question of how to reverse deforestation, fueled in part by the 2015 Climate Change Conference held in Paris last December.

He and his team are determined that the best hope reforestation has lies in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), the popular technology you may know as drones.

That’s right: drones could save our planet.

Industrial Scale Reforestation

biocarbon engineering reforestation seed

Source: YouTube/ Matthew Ritchie/ BioCarbon Engineering

Now, BioCarbon Engineering is dedicated to using drones to plant at least one billion trees per year in order to counter the loss of forests the planet has experienced over the past several centuries of increasing industrialization. The task is daunting, but Fletcher and his team have a simple plan:

“We believe that industrial-scale deforestation can only be countered with industrial-scale reforestation,” said Susan Graham, a winner of the Global Impact Challenge who works for BioCarbon Engineering.

Their tactic involves using drones to first map terrain in order to understand local ecosystems and determine the best time for planting. Then, the drones would return carrying special biodegradable pods filled with pre-germinated seeds covered with a special hydrogel that would not only reduce damage the seed upon impact but help them thrive in their new environment. The project understands that while this isn’t as precise or efficient as hand-sowing, it’s less labor intensive and more feasible financially, especially in places that are difficult for people to access.

BioCarbon Engineering presented their plan at the UAE Drones for Good award ceremony in Dubai.