Thursday 2 November 2023

We need to protect forests, not just restore them, says climate tech expert

We need to protect forests, not just restore them, says climate tech expert

There is up to 1.9 billion hectors of land available for reforestation.

This is what Adrien Pages, CEO of MORFO told us in this week’s Net Hero Podcast.

He said: ‘99% of all the restoration projects are planted by hand with seedlings, with a crucial lack of biodiversity. No monitoring, no transparency and the cost is not well spread out for all the phases of the project because most of the budget is focused on the planting part, which in terms of timing, is just a tiny part of the project.

‘So this is why we decided to launch our solution. To really allow to increase the scientific knowledge about restoration, about plants, about trees, to be able to restore them.

‘Because if you don't know trees, how can you plant them? And it's very difficult when you talk about biodiversity because there is a lot of interactions that we don't really understand yet.

‘The second aspect is that we need tools to get the scale. So this is why we brought in the idea of drones, the idea of encapsulation, to really increase the scale but also to increase the biodiversity.’

Adrien told us that MORFO uses its drone technology to both, map out areas fit for reforestation and release encapsulated seeds in these areas.

He said: ‘So we have an area that has been degraded. We completely analyse and scan the area that we need to restore.

‘The idea is to understand the area to segment, because from one square meter to the other square meter, you're not going to find the same conditions, so you cannot plant exactly the same mix with the same density.

‘From this analysis, we develop planting patterns that are very accurate. We have labs in which we study [plant] species and we have scientific partners who help us better understand the ecosystem and species.

‘The idea is to say, we want to plant 80 species but how are we going to plant them? You need to reproduce what nature is making using this analysis.

‘When we have this, we plant with the drones. So we treat the seeds, we encapsulate them. [The capsules] are fully biodegradable materials because it's going to be spread in the land.

‘And the drones automatically fly according to the planting pattern and they drop [the seeds].’

In their latest project in Santa Cruz Cabrália, a municipality in eastern Brazil, MORFO has been restoring the natural diversity of degraded land. Previously a sugarcane plantation, the land had been left abandoned for 15 years.

MORFO says that without intervention, the land would not have recovered for at least another 100 years.

Part of their project was to measure the impact of invasive species, the choice of species to be planted and the success rate of the planting.

Watch the full episode and remember to subscribe to our newsletter.

Written by

Garima Satija

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