Restoring Forests with Drone Technology
Tech-based planting technology to reforest from the air.
About this Project
While wildfires are necessary to promote healthy forests, the increase in greenhouse gas emissions from human activities has resulted in more frequent and catastrophic “high severity” wildfires across the globe in recent years. This has resulted in the destruction of seed, soil, and biodiversity, scarring landscapes and preventing natural forest regeneration.
The 300-acre Henry Creek Reforestation project is at the leading edge of reforestation efforts. This is an area that otherwise may never have naturally reforested due to the size and severity of the fire eliminating the seed sources.
Over the next 100 years, the replanted forest will remove CO2 from the atmosphere and provide numerous ecosystem benefits, including high-quality wildlife habitat, increased biodiversity, and clean water. It’s also one of the first forward-looking carbon offset projects that invests in future carbon capture as the trees grow, also known as an (ex-ante) project under the Climate Action Reserve’s Climate Forward program.
Located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains near Molalla, Oregon, the Henry Creek watershed is located adjacent to outstanding federally protected areas including the Table Rock and Opal Creek Wildernesses. This watershed serves as a water source for the downstream communities that include the city of Molalla and the capital city of Salem. Prior to the 2020 Beachie Creek Fire, this area was fully forested with a range of forest age classes and native species.
Why We Picked This Project
The project pioneers a new model of carbon finance tailored to the particular upfront needs of reforestation projects. Innovative on a number of levels, it uses a new carbon forecast methodology and provides land management and monitoring over a 100-year time frame. DroneSeed brings significant expertise combining trusted practices with new technology to innovate and scale reforestation of land impacted by increasing wildfires through the use of drones and community-based seed collection. Post-fire reforestation is highly additional, and utilizes a blend of fire-adapted seed varieties to increase the survival and long-term viability of the mix of species of trees planted.
Our Assessment of this Project
Standards & Certifications
Climate Action Reserve
Climate Forward Reforestation Forecast Methodology v1.1
Nursery seedlings were sowed at Silvaseed for planting in spring 2022
Secondary seeding event using heavy-lift drones and seed pucks
Interplanting of 50,000 seedlings
Final interplanting of up to 36,000 seedlings
Survey to confirm seedling stocking requirements are met
Third-party confirmation followed by the issuance of offsets (Forecasted Mitigation Units)
Benefits & Impact
Eight native tree species, grown from genetically diverse seed collected from trees in local seed zones, were planted to meet the needs of a dynamic project location that spans a 1000’ elevation gradient and various edaphic conditions characteristic of this particular ecosystem. Restoring these high elevations will provide habitat refugia for species under pressure to migrate upward in elevation as the climate warms.
The lower sections of Henry Creek and the Molalla River are critical habitat for Chinook and steelhead runs. Restoring the headwaters of these riparian areas will reduce downstream sedimentation and protect critical habitat for these native salmon species.
A perpetual conservation easement placed on the project area will ensure that this area will remain forested permanently, has funded monitoring for the next one-hundred years, and will provide habitat connectivity for the neighboring Table Rock and Opal Creek Wildernesses.
Sustainable Development Goals
This project supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals:
The project area was heavily impacted by a recent high severity fire, which impacted the forest’s ability to regenerate naturally. The revenues from carbon finance will be used to restore a climate and wildfire resilient forest which will absorb CO2 and improve the ecological health of the area.