Drones Join Fight to Save Forests

This precision planter can restore life to vulnerable ecosystems

Threatened forests and wetlands the world over have a new high-tech ally – a precision drone planter that can restore biodiversity on a mass scale at a significantly lower cost.

The drone planters, which can scatter around 400,000 seed pods in 12 hours, even in remote and harsh terrain, have been developed by Australian tech startup Lord of the Trees.

The company collaborates on projects with government authorities, environmental organisations, the farming sector, and mining companies to regenerate damaged landscapes around the world.

The drone planters can re-establish vital, functioning forests and landscapes, including fungi, through the use of proprietary seed pods that contain nutrients to ensure optimum germination conditions.

Lord of the Trees was founded by Aymeric Maudous in 2019, who last year landed a spot in Google’s accelerator program, which offers startup founders personalised training and mentorship to help them develop their businesses.

Maudous says the key mission over the upcoming months is to further develop the company’s drone technology and AI capabilities to scale its ecosystem restoration efforts.

“The increasing rates of deforestation worldwide are motivating us to push the boundaries of our potential,” he says.

“Using our drones and robotics to reforest is the fastest and cheapest way to capture carbon out of the atmosphere, improve ecosystems while enhancing the livelihood of the local communities living in or nearby these forests.” 

The increasing rates of deforestation worldwide are motivating us to push the boundaries of our potential

Aymeric Maudous

Founder, Lord of the Trees

aymeric-maudous
source: Lord of the Trees

Lord of the Trees has initiated the process of becoming a Certified B Corporation, and last month raised $1.25 million in a pre-seed funding round led by US investor Draper Associates, with the funds to help to expand operations and accelerate growth.

“We are the first company to take a 360-degree look at how plants, animals, humans and other factors combine to produce a fully functional ecosystem – and how to restore it once it’s been damaged,” Maudous says.

In one project, the company is working with the Orang Utan Republik Foundation of Sumatra and Sustainable Green Sumatra Foundation to restore a degraded forest in and around Gunung Leuser National Park in North Sumatra.

The original forest ecosystem was lost due to deforestation, with local farmers encroaching on the park and planting cash crops such as rubber and oil palm.

The restoration of indigenous trees within this ecosystem protects the habitat for numerous endangered species, including orangutans, siamangs, tigers, and hornbills.

Other projects include wetland restoration near the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia, reforestation of degraded land near Perth in Western Australia, and the rebuilding of forests in Greece after devastating wildfires.

The tech:

The Lord of the Trees uses precision planting drone technology which was developed by a team of industrial designers.
The drones have enhanced planting and spraying capabilities and the ability to work by day and by night in any environment. The company uses this technology to revegetate and reforest the world’s most affected areas on a large scale.
Lord of the Trees says its planting strategies are based on years of scientific research into the symbiotic relationship between species, the timing of each phase of germination, and seasonal considerations.
On each project, the company also consults with experts to gain knowledge about local conditions and cultural considerations, and also works with local indigenous communities, environmental organisations, and seed specialists to select native species.

Who funds it:

The company has raised $1.25 million in a pre-seed funding round led by US investor Draper Associates.

Is it ready to roll:

Lord of the Trees is already working with organisations in Australia and beyond on revegetation projects.

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