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Pitch

The basic idea is to boost the dispersal of tree seeds with small, durable, autonomous rovers for expanding forests and sequestrating carbon


Description

Summary

Has to be open-source, solar powered, DIY, affordable (<1k), durable (operating at least two years independently), non-hazardous, capable of identifying trees/leaves, identifying/collecting/dispersing tree seeds, identifying/navigating obstacles (trees, boulders, water, slopes), and mapping its surroundings. Site-specific or preset (recommended tree seed dispersal patterns/densities could by input or informed by foresters. Both active and stuck rovers could be locatable via GPS/cell phone app.


Category of the action

Geoengineering


What actions do you propose?

Test bed tree seed dispersal rover prototypes could compete for amount of increased carbon sequestration potential per rover cost/carbon-footprint/lifecycle. Quantification of carbon sequestered in tress planted by rovers is determined by the review of rover performance/history and a comparison of new tree growth in rover covered and non-rover areas.


Who will take these actions?

Collaboration between roboticitsts, suppliers, foresters, and land owners is required to provide governments, businesses, and individuals opportunities to reduce and potentially reverse their carbon footprint via the release and maintenance of tree seed dispersal rover swarms.  


Where will these actions be taken?

Future test bed actions should first be optimized by starting a dialog between roboticists and foresters for identifying feasible (navigable) terrains and areas with the highest reforestation and carbon sequestration potential. Rovers can work seasonally via collection by humans at the end of a planting season and redeployment at the beginning of a different planting season somewhere else.


What are other key benefits?

The desirable outcome is a successful life cycle assessment based on test bed tree seed dispersal rover prototypes. Ideally, a life cycle assessment of a single rover would indicate a greater long-term reduction of atmospheric CO2 per cost than a city-based solar panel installation of similar cost. Property owners may find tree seed dispersal rovers desirable enough to purchase as a fun appliance for increasing the value and esthetics of their land.


What are the proposal’s costs?

The primary negative side effect is could be bad forestry practice (increasing potential future mega-fires) resulting from poorly informed tree seed dispersal patterns and densities. Negative side effects could also include destruction of biota due to rovers incapable of discerning fragile plants and animals from tree seeds or obstacles. Vandalism and theft could also be a barrier to deployment in areas with higher human traffic. Tree seed dispersal rovers could create their own economy if foresters, landowners, governments, and businesses profit from their use. 


Time line

The 0-5 year period involves significant rover design and programming informed by foresters for autonomous work in the field. The 5-15 year period tests the performance of various prototypes at test beds to determine rover lifecycle, maintenance requirements, and feasibility. The 15-20 year period will test the economic power of the open-source rovers to be built, sold, and used for profit and carbon sequestration. The 50-100 year period will witness the extreme evolution and scaling of automated tree seed dispersal robots as well as the long-term and health fire-susceptibility of rover-planted forest areas.


Related proposals

The “Integrating REDD+ and Green Economic Growth for sustainable forest landscapes” proposal could potentially boost their reforestation efforts with automated seed dispersal in deforested areas where farmers may not have the resources or time for replanting trees.

https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/1301416/phaseId/1309157/planId/1315109


References