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Reforestation Drones Will Plant 40,000 Trees This Month With 1 Billion Goal Set for 2028

A Canadian startup has set the lofty goal of using drones to plant a billion trees by 2028. The company hopes to revolutionize reforestation.

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Reforestation Drones Will Plant 40,000 Trees This Month With 1 Billion Goal Set for 2028
Photo Credit: Newsweek

(TMU) – As the world continues to witness warming climate conditions, there has been a frightful uptick in massive wildfires from California to the Amazon rainforest and the Australian bush.

And as the world’s forests burn to the ground, this creates a dilemma not only for wildlife habitats but also for us humans – because trees help absorb and store carbon dioxide, they are one of our basic lines of defence against global warming.

However, a Canadian startup has set the lofty goal of using drones to plant a billion trees by 2028 – and in the process, the company hopes to revolutionize the manner in which the process of reforestation is tackled.

Flash Forest plans to deploy its revolutionary new technology to identify the best planting sites on fire-scorched land just north of Toronto where it can begin firing specially designed seedpods into the ground. The pods consist of germinated seeds, fertilizer, and a proprietary blend of “secret” ingredients, according to Newsweek.

A spray drone would then cover the area with nutrients such as nitrogen, helping the seedlings to grow, before mapping drones are sent later to monitor progress.

The company hopes to plant at least 40,000 trees in the Toronto region this month alone. Later this year, Flash Forest will also plant up to 300,000 trees in Hawaii.

Now On Kickstarter: Flash Forest | Using Drones to Plant 1 Billion Trees

And while people are capable of planting around 1,500 seed pods by hands, per day – requiring a hectic pace, without a doubt – Flash Forest’s drone solutions are apparently capable of planting 10,000 to 20,000 at present, with the company hoping to eventually be able to plant 100,000 a day.

And not only is the process far less intensive in terms of manual labour required, but it’s also far cheaper at around 50 cents per seed pod – about 20% cheaper than traditional planting techniques.

Image Credit: Flash Forest
Image Credit: Flash Forest

According to a study published in the journal Science, planting about a billion trees across the globe could remove two-thirds of all carbon dioxide emissions worldwide—approximately 25% of the CO2 in the atmosphere—creating a vast natural means to trap and store the emissions in an affordable and politically non-controversial manner.

Image Credit: Flash Forest
Image Credit: Flash Forest

The company claims that its drones can sharply increase the speed and efficiency of planting trees. The company said:

“Flash Forest is a reforestation company that can plant at 10 times the normal rate and at 20% of the cost of traditional tree planting techniques.

With drone engineering, we bring new levels of accuracy, precision and speed to the reforestation industry.”

The world faces a shrinking window of time in which to tackle the problem of heat-trapping emissions, with researchers warning that rampant and accelerating hot conditions across the world could exceed the worst-case scenarios previously forecast by climate experts – giving added impetus to mitigation efforts.

Flash Forest co-founder and chief strategy officer Angelique Ahlstrom said that’s where its drones can be a crucial part of such a strategy. She told Fast Company:

“There are a lot of different attempts to tackle reforestation. But despite all of them, they’re still failing, with a net loss of 7 billion trees every year.”

Ahlstrom notes that it’s not possible to combat deforestation by planting trees alone – however, Flash Forest’s state-of-the-art hardware using mapping drones and pneumatic-powered firing devices that shoot pods deep into the soil can be an asset in the cause.

Continuing, she said:

“It allows you to get into trickier areas that human planters can’t.”

Each planting will also consist of four species and eventually eight – covering an aspect of mass tree-planting that similar initiatives have overlooked in the past. Ahlstrom said:

“We very much prioritize biodiversity, so we try to plant species that are native to the land as opposed to monocultures.

We work with local seed banks and also take into account that the different changes that climate change brings with temperature rise, anticipating what the climate will be like in five to eight years when these trees are much older and have grown to a more mature stage, and how that will affect them.”

According to their website, they’ve so far planted 469 White Spruce, 344 White Pine, around 327 Blue Spruce, 225 Red Maple, 790 White Birch, 621 Sugar Maple, 131 Douglas Fir, and 199 Balsam.

And with researchers claiming that the Earth has room for over 1 trillion additional trees that can be planted across the globe, Flash Forest could help change the way any worldwide planting initiative would take shape. For Ahlstrom, it’s pretty simple math. She said:

“I think that drones are absolutely necessary to hit the kind of targets that we’re saying are necessary to achieve some of our carbon sequestration goals as a global society (and) when you look at the potential for drones, we plant 10 times faster than humans.”

By Jade Small | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Animal World

Scientists Confused By Hundreds Of Dead Elephants In Mysterious Mass Die-Off

Scientists are growing increasingly concerned about the mass deaths of hundreds of elephants in Botswana, but are still unsure about what is causing it.

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Botswana dead elephant
More than 350 elephant’s carcasses have been spotted in the Okavango Delta in recent weeks.

(TMU) – Scientists are growing increasingly concerned about the mass deaths of hundreds of elephants in Botswana, but are still unsure about what is causing the problem. According to the Guardian, at least 350 elephants have died in the African country in the past few months.

Researchers first realized that something was wrong in the Okavango Delta, where 169 elephants were reported in the month of May. By mid-June, that number had doubled to over 300.

Dr. Niall McCann, the director of conservation at UK-based charity National Park Rescue, said that a mass die-off like this is highly unusual.

“This is a mass die-off on a level that hasn’t been seen in a very, very long time. Outside of drought, I don’t know of a die-off that has been this significant,” McCann said.

It is unclear exactly what is causing these animals to die, but there are a few clues. Local sources told reporters that about 70% of these animals have died around waterholes. Some researchers think that perhaps the water might be somehow poisoned or tainted, but the government of Botswana has not tested any samples from the water holes yet.

When we’ve got a mass die-off of elephants near human habitation at a time when wildlife disease is very much at the forefront of everyone’s minds, it seems extraordinary that the government has not sent the samples to a reputable lab,” McCann said.

McCann also said that the researchers were able to determine that many of the animals had to die very quickly, judging by how they had fallen straight down on their faces. However, a large number of the animals also appeared to die more slowly.

So it’s very difficult to say what this toxin is,” said McCann.

McCann said that Covid-19 has even been suggested as a possible cause, but most researchers find this possibility highly unlikely. Oddly, this seems to be somewhat localized, as neighbouring counties have not reported mass elephant deaths.

There are reportedly about 15,000 elephants in the delta, which is nearly 10% of the total population for the entire country. A large portion of the country’s GDP, an estimated 10-12%, is generated through eco-tourism. This is the second most lucrative industry in the country, surpassed only by the diamond industry.

Last year, the government of Botswana lifted its ban on hunting wildlife, and has since begun selling expensive hunting rights to international poachers.

Botswana has the largest elephant population in the world, with an estimated 130,000 elephants within its borders. The newly elected government says that the ban was revoked because the large elephant population was beginning to have an impact on people’s livelihoods as the animals increasingly came into contact with humans.

Despite their relatively high numbers in Botswana when compared with the rest of the world, Elephants are generally thought to be an endangered species, especially in places like Asia, where they are officially listed as such. In Africa, elephant populations are listed as vulnerable, but they have been on a rapid decline due to overhunting and loss of habitat.

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Environment

Face Masks And Latex Gloves Have Become A New Environmental Problem

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Photo Credit: Opération Mer Propre

The Covid-19 pandemic may have given the planet a temporary, though not long-lasting, breather when it comes to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, but it’s also given Earth a new environmental scourge: latex gloves on beaches and sewers filled with face masks.

A number of organizations have raised concerns that oceans, rivers, and sewers are becoming increasingly swamped with disposable face masks, latex gloves, hand sanitizer bottles, and other non-recyclable personal protective equipment (PPE) items as the world continues to grapple with Covid-19.

French ocean conservation group Opération Mer Propre regularly documents its ocean clean-up operations on social media and has reported seeing notably more pieces of PPE in the Mediterranean Sea.

Very worrying about the new waste related to Covid… We pick [this kind of pollution] up at every clean now, mainly latex gloves,” Opération Mer Propre posted on Facebook May 20.

This is the first disposable masks to arrive in the Mediterranean,” the group wrote after a clean-up operation on May 23. “It’s just the beginning and if nothing changes it will become a real ecological disaster and maybe even health [one].”

Image courtesy of Opération Mer Propre

It isn’t just Europe, or natural environments, that are feeling the burn. A number of city authorities in the US have also reported sewers and storm water pumping stations becoming clogged with latex gloves and facemasks, which they believe many people are flushing down toilets.

Although there’s no data on the scale of the problem yet, the Associated Press contacted 15 city authorities in the US and all reported they had had significantly more sewer clogs and drainage issues since the pandemic began. This might be related to people flushing PPE or, they say, it could be due to people flushing alternatives to toilet tissue amid the early-lockdown panic buying.

In light of this pollution problem, the US Environmental Protection Agency released a statement telling citizens to properly dispose of PPE. Advice included not putting used disinfectant wipes, gloves, masks, PPE, or any medical waste in recycling bins as they could be contaminated by pathogens and are considered a health hazard. A number of recycling organizations have urged people to dispose of discarded masks and gloves safely by putting them in general refuse. It should also go without saying that littering PPE is gross, inconsiderate, and dangerous, so be sure to safely put used PPE into the appropriate general refuse bin if you’re out in public.

No one should be leaving used plastic gloves or masks on the ground in a parking lot or tossing them into the bushes,” David Biderman, executive director and CEO of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), said in a statement. “Discarded contaminated PPE on the ground increases the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and has negative impacts on the environment.”

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Animal World

Hummingbirds Turn Into Rainbows In Amazing Photos By Christian Spencer

Who knew hummingbirds’ wings turn into rainbows when photographed against the sun?

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Hummingbirds
Photo Credit: Christian Spencer

Australian artist and photographer Christian Spencer made an amazing discovery while standing on his verandah in Rio de Janeiro. When he photographed the black Jacobin hummingbird flying in front of the sun, a beautiful prism effect occurred.

At that very moment, the hummingbird’s feathers turned into a perfect rainbow of colours.

WINGED PRISM © Christian Spencer

Spencer has been following hummingbirds with his camera for years, and his film recording of the phenomenon was included in his 2011 short film, The Dance of Time.

The movie received 10 international awards and three best film honours. But that wasn’t the end of his fascination with the rainbow hummingbirds. Years later, Spencer returned to the subject.

THE ECLIPSE © Christian Spencer

I decided to try and photograph the same phenomenon with my camera,” he told Collective Spark. The resulting series, Winged Prism, reveal “a secret of nature that cannot be seen with our eyes.”

“Nearly all of the photos were taken in 2014. I have tried many times unsuccessfully to take similar photos but I think it depends on the atmospheric conditions and how much magic is in the air,” he added.

Despite the fact that we live in an age of post-production and image manipulation, these photos were never manipulated digitally. The visual affects you see here occur naturally.

WINGS OF LIGHT © Christian Spencer
WINGS OF LIGHT © Christian Spencer
CLOUD ANGEL © Christian Spencer
VITRAL © Christian Spencer
VITRAL © Christian Spencer
COSMIC ANGEL © Christian Spencer
HUMMINGBIRD GEOMETRY © Christian Spencer
HUMMINGBIRD GEOMETRY © Christian Spencer

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Animal World

These Guard Dogs Protect The World’s Smallest Penguins (Successfully)

When foxes discovered this small Australian island and its little penguin inhabitants, they nearly wiped the colony out. But a farmer came up with a novel way to protect the birds.

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These Guard Dogs Protect The World’s Smallest Penguins (Successfully)
Photo Credit: Nat Geo

The problem first became apparent in the year 2000 when the sea’s natural current led to increased sand build-up in the area. As a result, the local fox population on this island in Australia called Middle Island started to grow as there was an easy source of food around.

The penguins – the world’s smallest actually – faced being wiped out until a chicken farmer by the name Swampy Marsh (wow) came up with a plan. He suggested sending one of his Maremma dogs to protect the birds.

At low tide, and when sand builds up in the narrow channel, foxes can cross from the mainland barely getting their paws wet.

Red fox with a Little Penguin on Middle Island (photo courtesy of Middle Island Maremma Project) and Maremma sheepdog protecting a Gannet colony (seen in the background) (photo by L. van Bommel).

The dog, the first of several to be used on Middle Island, was called Oddball – and Oddball made quite an impact. Amazingly, since Oddball and his four-legged successors were introduced 10 years ago, there has not been a single penguin killed by a fox on Middle Island.

And there came the dogs. Image Credit: Middle Island Maremma Project
Also known as ‘blue penguins’, ‘little blue penguins’ and ‘fairy penguins’, they are found in Australia and New Zealand and are the smallest of all known penguin species. Image Credit: Global Screen

By now, the fairy penguin population has gone back up to almost 200.

The current dogs patrolling Middle Island are Eudy and Tula, named after the scientific term for the fairy penguin: Eudyptula.

The dogs operate in penguin breeding season, usually from October to March, when they spend five or six days a week on the island.

Here we go. Image Credit: Middle Island Maremma Project

The project has been such a success that a movie called Oddball has been made about it.

Sources: Middle Island Maremma ProjectBBC

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