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Reforestation in Tyrol with drone pilot project

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Reforestation in Tyrol with drone pilot project

In the fight against the increasing destruction of forests, the state of Tyrol is relying on the help of drones in a pilot project. They are intended to distribute tree seeds from the air in hard-to-reach forest sections. This approach enables the reforestation of areas that are difficult or impossible to reach from the ground. Those responsible not only rely on a unique sowing method, but also on specially prepared seeds.

The pilot project is the result of a cooperation between the State Forestry Directorate and the East Tyrol District Forestry Inspectorate. Deputy State Governor Josef Geisler emphasizes the importance of this innovative project: “With this project we are breaking new ground. If the experiments are successful, it can help us to reforest inaccessible areas not only in Tyrol but throughout the Alpine region.”

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20,000 square meters have already been flown

The agricultural drone, specially selected for the project and equipped with a payload of around 20 kilograms, loads the seeds of a wide variety of tree species, including birch, rowan, larch, white pine and buckthorn, before distributing them precisely over the target areas. 250 kilograms of seeds have already been sown in around 20,000 square meters of previously bare forest areas, particularly in the communities of Ainet, Assling, Iselsberg-Stronach, Oberlienz and Sillian.

The seeds themselves have been specially prepared to achieve optimal results. Each individual seed is coated with a layer of clay minerals, which not only enables precise sowing, but also protects against mouse damage and stores moisture for the germination phase. The head of the East Tyrol District Forestry Directorate, Erich Gollmitzer, emphasizes that the first successes of the pilot project will only become visible in two to three years at the earliest.

© Gert Perauer

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Bark beetles and weather extremes

The East Tyrolean forests are facing an urgent challenge, particularly due to ongoing bark beetle infestations and weather extremes. The drone project appears to be a solution to these problems and could prove to be a game-changer for the entire Alpine region. This is not just about reforestation, but also about sustainable development and protection of sensitive forest ecosystems in areas that are difficult to access.

The areas were selected in close cooperation with the regional construction management for torrent and avalanche control. Steep slopes that are at risk from natural events such as landslides should be planted quickly and safely using drones. Gollmitzer explains why the drones are necessary: ​​“Because it is not possible to send people or workers in there to reforest plants and because there is a latent danger from falling rocks.” According to project managers, the innovative drone technology could mark a turning point in forest management.

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