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Drone Seeding to create an entire forest- An Initiative by IISc Bangalore scientists

On June 5, World Environment Day, Professor KPJ Reddy tested the first trial of drone seeding on the banks of river Pinakini in Kolar district of Karnataka to create a forest. Professor Reddy did this task with two other scientists at the Department of Aerodynamics, Bangalore along with Dr H N Science Centre and the Department of Forest helped for this one of a kind test.

Professor S N Omkar said that the plan is to seed at least 10,000 acres in this year itself and that there are plans to extend it for three consecutive years.

The experiment to seed a whole new forest might be at its experimental stage. However, the vision is to convert a vast remote area into a forest. If Professor Reddy and his team want to fulfil this mission, they need to take the route of air. Using a big aircraft is expensive. Moreover, the landing and takeoff also cause issues. Therefore the only way to achieve this feat is to use drones.

Professor Reddy explains that using drones has the benefit of taking the image of the area before dropping seeds. Moreover, it is also helpful to geotag the path which the drone will take. As a result, the team will be able to constantly fly drones over the area to see the impact of dropping of seeds in every three months.

The 10,000 acre of land which is the focus of this project lies in Doddaballapur hill range. The professor is confident that if successful it will bring back the rains in this dry area again. However, he also mentioned that this is a collective endeavour, with him being the scientific head of the committee.

After dropping the seeds the team is preparing the data and anticipating the results. For the next three years, this area will be the main concern for future planning. The trial is the first phase to determine ground realities and the kind of conditions in which it is useful to operate.

The camera on board the drone will help to record every action whether it is to map the area or survey the land month after month. The operations will begin as soon as the monsoons sets in. The motto is to record and scientifically evaluate the work.

Professor Reddy also explained that taking the grassroots level people into confidence is necessary. He wants the villagers to be a part of this mission. Moreover, the villagers are happy to see drones taking off to seed the area surrounding their villages.

Using of drones for humanitarian purposes is not something new. Drones have been used to drop medical supplies and other life-saving equipment during human disasters. However, to come out with an idea to plant a whole new forest is a completely new approach. It seems apart from recreational activities drones might be able to solve mankind’s most desperate needs, like that of reviving a whole new patch of land with forests.

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