A revolution is afoot.
Researchers around the world are turning their attention toward developing automated forest restoration — or AFR.
“Forest restoration has to be dragged out of the stone and into the drone age, because with a little foresight and technological innovation, drones could perform many of the routine tasks of forest restoration, without the hard labour and consequent risk to people’s health and safety on the steep, rugged and often remote tropical sites which are available for restoration,” said Stephen Elliott, co-founder and research director of the Forest Restoration Research Unit of Chiang Mai University (FORRU-CMU) in northern Thailand.
Automating restoration is not a new idea. Aerial seeding to recover forests has been practiced at least since 1926, when aircraft were used for the first time to recover burned tropical forest in Hawaii.
“One thing we talked about a lot at the workshop is to what extent is it possible to identify plants from remote sensing,” Ryan Chisholm, a theoretical ecologist at the National University of Singapore
But what needs to happen before we see drones planting and caring for tropical forest trees?