After decades of exploitation, much of the Earth’s land is barren, deforested monoculture. Around a quarter has been degraded by farming, mining, logging and other practices.
Our ‘take, take, take’ approach to agricultural and industrial land use has seen biodiversity take a hit. Ironically, as these fragile and complex ecosystems are damaged, yields often also decrease.
Likewise, when land is degraded, soil carbon and nitrous oxide are released into the atmosphere – contributing to climate change. The issues of global warming and biodiversity loss go hand in hand, and land and wildlife restoration is a key part of the solution.
If current trends continue, 95% of the Earth’s land mass could be degraded by 2050. But how do you go about restoring billions of hectares of land?
Regeneration techniques can be inefficient and expensive. Monitoring the behaviour of an endangered species is a complex process; so too is developing a detailed understanding of a land mass that needs to be reforested.
However, in recent years, the use of drones for land restoration has become viable. Drones are basically remote-controlled flying robots – more commonly associated with shady military practice and causing carnage at Gatwick Airport.
The use of drones almost always carries social implications – tied up with privacy and safety. These will need to be resolved if their use in the conservation sector is to become more widespread. But initial results look very promising indeed.