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Canadian company aims to have its drones plant 1 billion trees by 2028

Drones may soon be buzzing in a forest near you, dropping seeds and helping restore the landscape.

Flash Forest, a Canadian startup that launched in 2019, uses drones to fire seed pods into land, in some cases flying into areas inaccessible to people. In May, Flash Forest plans on planting 40,000 trees north of Toronto, and will them move onto other regions. Their goal is to plant 1 billion trees by 2028. "When you look at the potential for drones, we plant 10 times faster than humans," Angelique Ahlstrom, Flash Forest cofounder and chief strategy officer, told Fast Company.

Flash Forest determines which trees will work best in each environment, and sends mapping drones out to survey the areas. Seed pods are packed with a proprietary mix that makes them germinate faster and hold onto moisture, even in a drought. "We very much prioritize biodiversity, so we try to plant species that are native to the land as opposed to monocultures," Ahlstrom said.

The drones can plant 10,000 to 20,000 seed pods every day, and as the technology advances, that number could be upped to 100,000 trees a day, Ahlstrom told Fast Company. Controlled studies have shown high rates of tree survival, and the company plans on starting a restoration project in Hawaii later this year, planting 300,000 trees.