GPS Technology Makes Tree Planting More Efficient

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Deforestation and disappearing wildlife habitats are a big problem in the modern world. Manufacturing industries use state-of-the-art technologies to produce and sell more paper and wood products, but there is growing concern over the devastation wrought by their methods of obtaining materials. Particularly, the rate with which large, luscious forests are being cut down. The trees are being removed much more quickly than we can hope to replant, as trees take many years to grow to their full potential. One solution-orientated man is leading team, developing ways to replant forests as quickly and efficiently as possible, using GPS technology and drones.

“I’ve spent my whole life in silviculture and these ideas have been germinating for a decade,” explains Hans Thunander. “But now I feel the technology is far enough advanced that it can be used to make planting more efficient.” He has a two-stage plan laid he’s currently working out. The first stage is called Vision 2015 and is ready for implementation. He projects that Vision 2015 will make tree planting 25 percent more efficient. It involves equipping a drone with camera equipment and a GPS tracking device.

The drone flies over a newly cut area and records an image along with the GPS data. This information is then interpreted by a computer, which calculates the most efficient plan for replanting. The computer can determine exactly how many plants should be planted, where they should be planted and how densely. The GPS information is then used to design a route for a scarifier on autopilot to plant the trees.

The second stage of the project is expected to be rolled out in the next 10 years. The next stage is called Vision 2023 and is expected to make tree planting 50 percent more efficient. There are still quite a bit that needs to be worked out before more details can be revealed. Hopefully, by making tree planting more efficient, we’re making a dent in the deforestation problem.

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Marisa O'Connor

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