Yes, and people die because of that.
In Brazil, it is illegal to cut down a Brazil nut tree. As a result, they can be found outside production areas, in the backyards of homes and near roads and streets. The fruit containing nuts are very heavy and rigid, and they pose a serious threat to vehicles and people passing under the tree. Brazil nuts sink in fresh water, which can cause clogging of waterways in riparian areas.
My city has many trees, and tree related deaths got within an order of magnitude of the big killers (transit, violence) a few years ago. The local government got a special case permission to cut the most dangerous trees, but some stupid greens made some vocal protests, so it lasted only for about two months. Anyway that was enough to improve things for a while.
Be careful what you wish for. If you can do something sneaky with biological tech for justice, others can do bad things with it too. When I saw the headline with "drone" in it, I immediately imagined an evil plot where some organization genetically engineers a plant to produce pollen with a tailored allergenic effect on one particular ethnic group, then seeds a particular area with it. What's more, they slowly ramp up the level of allergenic effect over the space of a decade, so that the effect looks natural. This will probably be within the reach of billionaires and smaller governments in a decade.
Happily, this is impossible.
What I thought about was drone-bombing marijuana on all private residences and public buildings of government.
Imagine seeding the whitehouse lawn with pot!
My brain has been on a Tom Clancy "evil plot" kick.
Just remembered: A long time ago, I imagined a "magical realism/sci-fi" fantasy-textured story with a "race" analogous to the fae folk or the "Children of the Forest" from GoT, but instead of disappearing into hills, they disappeared into impassable hedges. These weren't impassable due to magic, however. Instead, the hedges were suffused with plants similar to Poison Oak, and the natives of the land had simply developed an immunity to it.
However, I'm sure there are a lot of soft targets, and this is a genius idea. Does the DEA have some nice lawns? Maybe state capitols?
In the United States, which contains 8 percent of the world's forests, there are more trees than there were 100 years ago. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), "Forest growth nationally has exceeded harvest since the 1940s. By 1997, forest growth exceeded harvest by 42 percent and the volume of forest growth was 380 percent greater than it had been in 1920." The greatest gains have been seen on the East Coast (with average volumes of wood per acre almost doubling since the '50s) which was the area most heavily logged by European settlers beginning in the 1600s, soon after their arrival.
Forests in the US generally depend on regular forest fires for health. The US has mostly been putting out those fires and the result is we have a lot more trees than is ideal.
I've never lived on the west coast, but I wonder sometimes if the out-of-control wildfires that happen out there so often would be better if there were more controlled burns happening? Or is it just too dry out there for even that?
As the population of California has increased, people have increasingly settled farther and farther up the neighboring mountains. The mountain ranges in the area like the San Gabriels are very young geologically. They haven't had the chance to erode down much and are composed of brittle rock just waiting for a chance to break off.
So you have a growing population in an area prone to devastating landslides and debris flow.
Meanwhile, the mountains are covered in chapparal. These small scrubby bushes have evolved to endure (and in fact in some species require) periodic wildfires every decade or so. When the chapparal burns, it leaves a coating of ashy dust on the ground. That prevents rain water from soaking into the earth. So when a summer storm comes around later, the water starts sheeting down the mountain, taking dirt, rocks, and boulders with it.
This is a devastating event. It's very hard to build defenses against it, and hard to predict precisely when it's going to occur. You're talking going from "everything is fine" to "thousands of tons of rock crashing through homes" in a matter of minutes.
Ironically, debris flow would be easier to predict with controlled burns, but it's pretty hard sell to say, "Yeah, you're house is going to get flattened next month and we're going to make it happen." So, because of the much greater threat to life (people die in big debris flows all the time) and property, California ends up very hesitant to do controlled burns of the chapparal.
Read the book, it is described much better than I can summarize.
Anyway, I guess we have sufficient political will here in Florida, or at least we do after we saw what happens when we don't - the wildfires we had in 1998 . Which were terrifying. The fires got within a few miles of our house at one point, and the sky looked like the scene from Fantasia where all the dinosaurs are dying, with an orange sun that was so dimmed by smoke you could look directly at it without even getting an afterimage on your retina. Ash fell from the sky like snow, and everything smelled like woodsmoke for months.
 The Ocala National Forest https://www.fs.usda.gov/ocala
We should be managing our lands with more controlled burns to periodically reduce the fuel load so a huge unmanageable natural forest fire doesn't break out.
Plus some species require forest fires, like ponderosa pine whose pine cones will only open to release their seeds from the heat of a forest fire.
Controlled burns often accompany harvest operations to return nutrients to the soil.
> Plus some species require forest fires, like ponderosa pine whose pine cones will only open to release their seeds from the heat of a forest fire.
Not the Ponderosa Pine. You are probably thinking of the Lodgepole Pine and Knobcone Pine.
Further searching for links on serotinous (externally triggered) cones turn up sources that almost all refer to the Lodgepole Pine . Also note that these trees have both serotinous and non-serotinous cones - they can still reproduce without the presence of fire, albeit at a lesser rate.
That being said, the Ponderosa is fire-resistant, and will survive typical non-crowning fires.
The northeastern US wasn't just logged, it was cleared, primarily for pastureland, and that primarily for sheep. Between cotton, synthetic fabrics, and cheap grazing land out west, it stopped being economically viable, so a lot of northeastern farmland was just abandoned. Over the next ~century, trees took over the once-clear pastures. Now you've got great swaths of woodlots with laboriously constructed stone fences throughout them.
A better measure would be comparing current forest size to pre-European colonization of Americas, if it were possible.
Same is true for Europe, though I don't think that we "made it sustainable" - wood just was not this important as a resource anymore.
As an example, Finnish forests today have 2400 Mm^3 of wood, which is nearly twice as much as they had in the beginning of the 20th century, we cut ~70 Mm^3 per year, but the amount keeps growing because the yearly growth is greater than 100 Mm^3.
The reason for this is that most forests have essentially been turned into monoculture tree farms, and carefully managed for maximum productivity.
Mind you, I'm not saying that it is not sustainable, just that we did not necessarily make it so. It just happens to play out.
> Mind you, I'm not saying that it is not sustainable, just that we did not necessarily make it so. It just happens to play out.
Again in Finland, it didn't just play out this way, the current state of affairs is result of intensive government-led research into sustainable and effective forestry methods started in the 1920s. Back then, the forests were the most important export resource of the recently independent nation, we needed a lot of imports and therefore ensuring that there will be new trees to cut down was a national priority.
This article quotes the lead professor as saying doing it with big aircraft is expensive and poses logistic problems. So the only way to do it is through drones. I respect people trying to achieve maximum output with minimal resources.
> Dropping seeds instead of bombs seems like a plan that John Lennon would approve of.
That sounds like a bold statement, but I’m certainly willing to approve of it :)
No, the Netherlands grows its marijuana domestically (and exports about half of what is grown domestically).
But to be honest, it's not a huge amount. The Netherlands grows about 270,000 kg of marijuana annually. To put that into perspective, about 17,600,000 pounds are grown each year in just five US states (Washington, California, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Hawaii).
Despite our reputation, the Netherlands are now behind when it comes to legalization of marijuana.
Wherever there is a black market there is much more crime, especially of the violent variety. Looking at crime in the Netherlands, I would venture to guess that its very much like California's market pre-legalization where most growers operated as legitimate, albeit heavily under-regulated, businesses that could still turn to local police in case of robbery, threats, etc. but still have to worry about flying under the radar (like when the DEA raided a bunch of collectives in California because they were too close to schools)
Guess we have gone hi-tech now.
Seems like a good way to automatically forest large swathes of un-populated land.
It isn't inevitable that more people equals more destruction. We can act as stewards responsible for the environment.
I think there is even a biblical story(which makes it a pretty old story) about the bad farmer throwing his wheat seed on the path and on unprepared soil. The story is not directly about wheat, but the point is that the allegory used in the story is/should be common knowledge.
This is a cheaper and better alternative.
Flying a drone in India require permits from multriple authorities  Their import is also highly regulated .
It may be cheaper to throw a couple bucks at a few thousand people than go through the license Raj. At the very least, it would be faster and more predictable.
They're just going to trample over the landscape they're supposed to be foresting. You also can't verify and trust them to actually go out there and plant things rather than just throwing their whole bag in the nearest trash can and coming back with an empty sack demanding payment.
Really? Do you have a mental image of these people locking arms like a search party and marching around the forest deliberately stomping everything they find into a thin green paste or something? It is not actually that difficult for some people to walk into a forest without killing everything they see, plant some trees, and come back. The Evil of Man (TM) does not actually extend to laser beams of death coming out his eyes and striking down all living things within visual range.
I can't help but read this as just being contrarian for the sake of contrarianness, because this objection (being raised by some others in this discussion too) is fundamentally deeply silly.
You understand that large numbers of people walking over an area necessarily involves trampling over the ground right? This effort requires repeated plantings over a long time. Random people you pick up off the street who you're paying a pittance are not going to be invested in your actual goal, just the proximal goal of getting paid to do the thing.
Again, it is not that hard to walk into a forest, plant some trees, and walk back out without killing everything you see. People manage to do this all the time, even at scale.
Perhaps you are thinking of the desert ecosystem, which in many places is sensitive enough to do serious damage to with just a footstep?
I really can't imagine that you've spent very much time in forests if you think they are literally so delicate that they can't handle traffic for the purposes of putting more trees in them. You are aware that animals tend to live in them, too, right? It's not all just The Evil of Man (TM).
This is why national parks have trails and fences to keep people from treading on the more sensitive parts and require wilderness permits before you get to go backcountry camping. Backcountry doesn't stay backcountry when it has to carry too many people. People piss. They shit. They spit and smoke and litter. When you're paying a junk wage to random people off the street who aren't bought into your mission they will do all of these things and nobody will be policing them. It's sounding like you've never actually tried to coordinate large groups of people to do anything before. Especially if they're under-educated and not paid well, they really tend not to exercise much diligence or care.
Again, you seem to just have this unbelievably destructive model of the environmental impact of some people walking around, like they're some sort of Dementors from Harry Potter in real life that suck the life out of everything they pass by. And in the context of this discussion, even the fact they're going in with the explicit purpose of improving the environment doesn't make this worthwhile?
And again I can't help but see this as just being contrarian to be contrarian, because the environmental impact model you're proposing is, frankly, insane. Apparently we're going to pay some people to camp out and do whatever they want for months, and at some point, maybe get around to planting some trees after they're done grinding the local environment up and snorting it up their noses? I don't think anybody is proposing this. If you armed some people with tree saplings and deliberately paid them to damage the environment in a day I don't think they could come even close to what you seem to think is going to happen if the hoi polloi is allowed outside.
I mean, this almost starts feeling sort of racist when it gets down to it... those people can't be trusted to freaking plant some trees without destroying everything? Seriously? This is ridiculous.
I have seen what other homeless people can do to the same area. About three years ago, some group began camping near us and what had been a narrow trail, not readily visible from the road, began looking like elephants on hashish had trampled it. Plants were broken and the trail became obvious. They were loud, rowdy and doing drugs. We soon relocated.
Just because it is possible for someone educated who cares about the environment to carefully walk in and walk out with minimal impact does not mean you can actually trust anyone to do the same. I concur with the remarks being made here by naravara.
Anecdotally: My ex was career military. While in Germany, there were strict rules about not harming the environment. They threw a track on their track vehicle. He wanted to walk it back onto the vehicle, but this would have involved backing over a tree. So someone else overroad him and called in a vehicle to rescue their track vehicle in order to protect this tree, as per guidelines. The rescue vehicle was even larger and you could hear it coming as it mowed down tree after tree after tree, cutting a path to their location.
Stupid is as stupid does. It is everywhere and it rarely benefits the environment.
I know someone who works as a commercial forester, often managing plantings of trees in the US. They take a trailer full of trees and imported labor and go out and stick them in the ground. It's backbreaking work, one of the steps is to stomp the hole cut for the tree closed with a boot.
Both are a bit unfortunate, leading to monocultures, and in the case of many CCC forests, poor future management, so the trees are crowded and fragile.
Of course, those areas are not as protected as US National Parks, but they are much, much vaster.
I'm Indian myself dude. It's not a race thing, it's basic human nature. If you use uneducated and underpaid people who don't care about the mission you ostensibly want them to do (which is what you'd be doing if you want to make it cost-effective against just flying some drones up there), they're not going to actually act to fulfill the mission you're transactionally hiring them for.
They're not going there with the "explicit purpose of improving the environment." They're there to collect a paycheck according to whatever terms you gave them. If those terms are "Go up there with a sack full of seeds, scatter them around, and come back down with an empty sack" they'll figure out a way to do that by the most efficient (for them) means possible.
This is basic human nature. If you're also not policing them to make sure they're not also causing ecological damage while they're there (through litter and leaving lots of traces) you could easily end up being pretty counterproductive. If you want to put them through a lot of training to make sure they don't do any of that, you're going to have to have oversight and training which, again, starts to eat away at its cost effectiveness relative to drones. And this is even setting aside the fact that people need to rest and drink water if you're expecting them to go mountaineering with a pack full of manure and seeds on their backs.
>those people can't be trusted to freaking plant some trees without destroying everything? Seriously? This is ridiculous.
The fact that you make planting trees in the backcountry sound like a brainless and easy endeavor makes me wonder if you've ever actually been in the wilderness or so much as gardened before. It's not so simplistic, especially when you're dealing with a place that does not currently have any trees. Even parts of forests that get burned out by huge fires or flooding have trouble getting tree-growth back for a long time because grasses and shrubs outcompete them, and that's despite not having people periodically stomping around there.
And not just that, but you expect people to go out doing this even though it involves having to go mountaineering (without trails) through brush in South Indian heat with a pack full of manure and seeds on their backs. (And they wouldn't be giving them ultralight gear here or anything. It's gonna be a burlap sack if you're lucky, but plastic bags are more likely).
>Again, you seem to just have this unbelievably destructive model of the environmental impact of some people walking around
You seem to have a very naive model of the kind of impact that people operating in fragile wilderness has. Grass is one of the hardiest and stubborn plants out there and even that gets trampled into dirt with surprisingly few people going over it. You said animals have to function in forests too, yeah they do. But if their population isn't [kept in check by predation](http://www.yellowstonepark.com/wolf-reintroduction-changes-e...) they also do a lot of damage to the ecology. A forest isn't just a bunch of trees close together. It's a whole biome you have to build and it's not going to be helped if it's being trammeled by people, even if those people are dropping a backpack's worth of seeds with each trip. One pack of seeds won't make up for the damage they'll do just by being there unless they're extremely attentive to the principle of leaving no trace. (And believe me when I say that underpaid, uneducated random people off the street in India will not be).
And we need to go over again, since you don't seem to be getting it, the fact that we're not talking about a healthy or robust ecosystem here. We're talking about an area that has already been destroyed which they are trying to re-forest.
Pretty tragic how traditional (and sustainable) herd management practices were abolished via privatization in the name of "progress." The mechanisms they used to prevent the Tragedy of the Commons were dismantled, with predictable results.
There's no contradiction. Proper grazing management (of all animals) is necessary, but not sufficient. There are plenty of other ways to destroy the land.
If you're in drylands you might look at land imprinting. Making shallow depressions pools all water and organic matter right next to the seeds, and allows infiltration in parched soils that otherwise run off all of the occasional rains.
That seems...very optimistic.
This only works in specific situations though. I don't know if applies to the climate in India.
But Bangalore? Sounds iffy.
Obviously the specifics of the implementation depends on local geography and hydrology, but re-planting trees is pretty much the only economically/thermodynamically plausible way to "bring back rains" (eg desalination is way too expensive).
So yeah, they're actually onto something.
Does it need to be a denser patch of spreoutlings?
BTW, there is a "drone festival" in Lucknow on June 19, I guess akin to the kite festivals around Sankranti. I plan to attend.
It said 'IISc Bangalore Scientists experimenting with drone seed-bombing to plant a forest'. I see no problem with it, other than IISc not being as well known as say MIT. But it is still a very good institution and I think they deserve to be known. The name of the institution should be celebrated for their research, not just put behind a large banner of 'Indian Scientists' which gives no recognition to the institution.
Just like MIT/Stanford scientists aren't called American scientists every time some article about research comes out from that University. If someone doesn't know what IISc is, we know they can just google it.
Often we change a phrase like that to just "Scientists" for brevity, but there's probably no need to emphasize nation rather than institution. Though in Canada we tend to put "Canadian" in front of everything.
Maybe that should change too.
Still, if their ranking is at 190, why shouldn't they be called by their name?
Internationally, nobody has heard of them outside of India because unlike Stanford and MIT they have yet produce any technologies of value. While American universities live on patents, Indian schools are know for suppling large US software companies with cheap labour - often below market value. Importantly you'd be hard pressed to find somebody that can tell them apart.
Indian "scientists" has a better connotations than the specific school, whose reputations are unknown or second rate - this immediately questions the rigour and relevance of their work.
Sorry about talking down but you have seemed to miss the entire point of my argument. Even though the school isn't well known, I said they can search for the name if they don't know about it.
>Indian schools are know for suppling large US software companies with cheap labour - often below market value
I don't know how this suddenly came into the argument. If this was some remote university in Russia, my point would still stand. You seem to have a very prejudiced view of Indian universities. Please educate yourself. You aren't being mean, just ignorant. Indian schools are also known for producing world-class engineers.
Not just software. Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Pepsico, Mastercard. Do you know what they have in common? A CEO educated in an Indian University.
>Indian "scientists" has a better connotations than the specific school, whose reputations are unknown or second rate
We shouldn't do that has better connotations but what's right. And acknowledging the achievements of a university is what is right.
>this immediately questions the rigour and relevance of their work.
That's your problem. Any scientific work must stand independent of whoever publishes it. Yes, screening process gets easier, but the questioning the accuracy must be accompanied by proper arguments, not bias.
Do you really think a country with three times the population of the US doesn't have any scientific achievements? Just recently there was a huge rocket launched with a fraction of the budget of the science department of a US university.