Forests are our planet's heroes in the combat against climate change. They can mitigate temperatures, eliminate pollutants, and curb land degradation in natural way. However, global forests are being destroyed at a rate of 10 million hectares per year, equivalent to the size of the country of Iceland.
Here today, we celebrate the International Day of Forest Day to highlight the importance of digital technology for the conservation of forest resources. From tree planting to post-bushfire recovery, drone can be the new tool for us to take more proactive measures and to help retrieve our "losing emeralds".
1. Tree Planting
In Brazil, the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) has launched a forest restoration project using agricultural drones to plant trees. During the experiment, seed mixtures from tree species that are native to the region were sorted and poured into the drone container.
According to the pilot's command, the XAG agricultural drone then took off and spread seeds evenly along target lines, improving the productivity of the local forest restoration.
2. Forest Nourishment
One of the toughest and labour-intensive tasks in forest protection is sprinkling fertilizer or manure in woodland areas.
At an experimental farm of UFPR near Rio Negro, Brazil, XAG’s drones were used to disperse solid fertilizer and liquid chemicals that are beneficial to boosting tree growth. As an alternative to human spraying, drones have come in handy while conducting tree spraying missions in inaccessible areas.
3. Forest Disease Prevention
In 2021, a disastrous scarab outbreak occurred in a 2600-hectare poplar forest located in Northwest China. Facing the threat of invasion, the local government sent out a fleet of agricultural drones to stop this devouring tree killer from harming the poplar saplings and young leaves.
XAG drones were applied to spraying pesticides over the forests, covering the dense canopies of poplar to reach every leaf of the tree and effectively ward off pest with high efficiency.
4. Post-deforestation Land Management
Harmful weeds sometimes take advantage in fast growing speed and having strong adaptation on deforested lands. They can compete sunlight and nutrition with freshly planted saplings.
Comparing to self-propelled sprayers, drones can be used to identify weedy areas and eradicate weeds with less herbicides on hilly forests, which are difficult to access for large ground machinery.
5. Post-bushfire Revegetation
Bushfire is one of the biggest enemy to forest biodiversity. After the severe wildfire that swept across Australia since 2019, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) together with Heytesbury District Landcare Network (HDLN) conducted a drone seeding operation project on Lake Cobrico, a fire-ravaged peat swamp in Victoria.
Seeding by drones proved to be a safer and more cost-effective approach on the fragile swamps, which can be susceptible to secondary injury by the footprint of human or ground equipment.