Drones Plant Seedlings in Fire-Ravaged Canadian Forest

Drones aim to plant 1 billion more additional trees by 2028

Sat 22 Apr 23


Canada’s giant fibre-optics group Telus Communications has teamed up with Toronto-based Flash Forest to develop and expand post-wildfire reforestation by using drones to plant tree seedlings.

“Flash Forest will be planting at several post-wildfire sites this northern spring across the south and central of British Columbia,” according to CEO and co-founder Bryce Jones said.

Flash Forest employs autonomous drone technology, automation, and ecological expertise to restore forested areas affected by wildfires. Designed to address the pressing demands of the global climate emergency, it’s automated aerial reforestation system offers enhanced speed, accessibility, and safety.

Flash Forest has evolved from a successful Crowd Funding project in 2019. It’s commitment to reforest the earth with 1 billion trees is transformational. Footage courtesy of @bestcrowdfundingprojectsby2908
Flash Forest secures Series A funding from TELUS Pollinator Fund and OurCrowd

Announced on Wednesday (Canadian time), Flash Forest has received an $11.4 million (CAD) investment from the TELUS Pollinator Fund that will allow the company to accelerate its rate of reforestation.

“With this investment by the TELUS Pollinator Fund, Flash Forest is partnering with a significant social impact fund that doesn’t simply act with a profit-first mindset, but clearly identifies with and supports Flash Forest’s mission of 1 billion trees by 2028 to rebuild healthy resilient forests at scale to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss,” Jones says.

In 2021 Flash Forest CEO Byrce Jones gave a TED Talk talking about the potential of drone technology in accelerating reforestation efforts. Footage courtesy of @TEDx

“In addition to TELUS environmental leadership and steadfast commitment to becoming a zero waste and net carbon neutral company by 2030, there’s enormous internal resources and support that make this an extremely exciting and mutual partnership. We’re ready to dive in and can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Autonomous technology is increasingly being embraced by forest managers – in recent days Wood Central has covered the CollectiveCrunch’s ‘Linda Planet’ and Chainparency’s ‘ForesTrust Blockchain’ significantly improving the collection and speed of data.

Flash Forest plants trees 3 x cheaper and 5 x faster than hand and shovel

The earth loses an average of 26 million hectares of trees every year, with more than 30% of those losses attributed to wildfires.

Despite the growing need for reforestation, tree planting is still largely executed by hand and shovel, a method that is laborious, difficult, and faces challenges in terrain with limited accessibility.

Aerial photo taken from one of Flash Forest's drones. (Photo credit: Flash Forest)
Aerial photo taken from one of Flash Forest’s drones. (Photo credit: Flash Forest)

Flash Forest’s solution makes it possible to plant trees three times cheaper and five times faster than conventional hand and shovel methods, while also servicing wildfire-impacted areas that cannot be easily addressed by conventional methods.

“Essentially, we’re looking for high severity sites, where severity is so high that the forest doesn’t return afterwards or takes a very long time to do so. That’s where our technology is needed,” says Jones.

White Rock Lake planting will begin in early May, 2023

The team from Flash Forest will start planting in the White Rock Lake area in early May. Wildfires started in the region in 2021 and spread across 32,500 hectares.

The wildfires which spread extensively across the White Rock Lake area attracted global attention. Footage courtesy of @globalnews

Last spring, Forest Flash planted 150,000 trees and this year it will use drones to plant between four and six million trees.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government has launched a two million trees project for the 2023 planting season that will grow to 37 million trees under a two-year $80 million (CAD) joint funded venture.


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