Deforestation is stripping the Earth’s forests at an alarming rate, and this includes more than 100 plant, animal, and insect species (daily) as well. We are talking about massive amounts of land area that forests are supposed to cover. We are raping the Earth, with swaths the size of Panama being lost each and every year. At the current rate of deforestation, the world’s rain forests could be completely gone within the next one hundred years, and that’s not a very long time at all. According to the National Geographic, seventy percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests. We’ve destroyed millions of acres of forest in the last century, mostly due to human activity. It’s long past the time for us to question what it is we are doing here, and it seems that more people are doing that every day, which is great to see. (source)
But all is not lost. Solutions are available to clean up the heart-breaking mess we’ve wrapped ourselves up in, and it’s quite overwhelming to consider just how many solutions we already have which could end the practice of deforestation, or at least restore the planet and help bring it back to life. Whether it be changing the materials we use to manufacture certain goods, or putting an end to factory farming, or something else entirely, solutions are available, but how can we restore what’s already been lost?
We can turn to a pretty amazing innovation, for starters. They are called seed bombers, also known as aerial reforestation. The idea is to use planes to drop pointed containers with saplings inside, and this practice could see nearly one million trees planted every single day.
The idea originally came from a from a gentleman by the name of Peter Simmons, from Lockheed, who has stated that:
Equipment we developed for precision planting of fields of landmines can be adapted easily for planting trees. There are 2,500 C-130 transport aircraft in 70 countries, so the delivery system for planting forests is widely available – mostly mothballed in military hangers waiting for someone to hire them. The possibilities are amazing. We can fly at 1,000ft at 130 knots planting more than 3,000 cones a minute in a pattern across the landscape – just as we did with landmines, but in this case each cone contains a sapling. That’s 125,000 trees for each sortie and 900,000 trees in a day. (source)
A few years ago, Moshe Alamaro, then a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, developed what are called conical canisters. They are a starchy biodegradable material containing a seedling packed in soil and nutrients. The canisters are designed to be dropped from a low-flying plane so that they hit the ground at 200 m.p. and imbed themselves in the soil.
“A large aircraft could drop as many as 100,000 saplings in a single flight: Alamaro’s system could plant as many as a million trees in one day.” (source)
The Thai government has initiated a five-year pilot project that uses aerial reforestation to boost forest regeneration over deteriorated forests, but I have yet to come across anything related to large scale reforestation of the planet through this method, although it seems to show a tremendous amount of promise.
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