Reforestation efforts around the world could get a massive boost thanks to an innovative idea that repurposes old planes. A billion trees could be planted every year thanks to aerial reforestation initiatives. The practice of dropping seeds from planes is not new, but it has been growing in popularity and has earned the nickname “seed bombing.”
Seed bombing is extremely efficient because there is no need for people to be on the ground carrying out the process of seeding manually with a shovel. Conventional reforestation methods are very labor-intensive and slow. Only a few hundred saplings can be planted per day by the most experienced laborers.
One proposal that is being considered entails retrofitting unused C-130 cargo planes to drop the seeds as they fly over land. According to estimates by Lockheed Martin and Aerial Reforestation Inc., as many as 1 billion trees could be planted every year.
“The possibilities are amazing…”
Lockheed’s Peter Simmons said: “We can fly at 1,000 ft. 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.”
The seeds being dropped are contained within pointed cones that can bury themselves into the soil at a depth that is akin to that used for manual planting. The casing of the cone then dissolves over time, releasing the seeds into the soil. The cones also contain fertilizer and a substance that can soak up surrounding moisture to help ensure that the tree will take root.
It can be used in places that used to contain trees as well as deserts under certain circumstances. The process could make great inroads in balancing out the effects of forestation, quite possibly replacing the trees that are cut down each year hundreds of times over.
Some trees can grow by as much as three feet each year after hitting their standing height of five feet, and many of them reach maturity in less than a decade. This could help restore forest ecosystems that have been damaged by deforestation.
A War Against Deforestation
According to a Discovery Project Earth video posted on Minds.com, 20,000 square miles of forest are lost every year. It would be necessary to replant an area that is twice the size of Manhattan every day to replace the world’s disappearing forests.
There are many reasons that deforestation is a big concern for every human being on Earth. Besides its effects on biodiversity and climate change, there is the fact that rainforests harbor an amazing variety of plants that contain healing properties, many of which have yet to be explored.
Deforestation can also contribute to the spread of diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and Lyme disease. The destruction of the Brazilian rainforest by deforestation has been blamed for the spread of diseases such as the Zika virus.
The Journal of Global Health reports: “There is a well-documented, positive association between the increased deforestation of an area and the emergence of zoonotic, vector-borne diseases.”
While there are still some logistical hurdles to overcome, seed bombing appears to be a good option for slowing and possibly even reversing the effects of deforestation.