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Tree Bombs Proposed by Lockheed Martin And Others

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

The sad news is that the military complex has an over abundance of planes designed to drop land mines that are doing nothing now but growing rust.  The good news is that 25 years ago a guy named Walters presented a scientific paper describing how C-130 military aircraft could be used to drop tree seedlings and reforest an area.  Hmm, thought the military complex, could there be a way to make some money and do some good at the same time?

And yes, there is a way.  Lockheed Martin and others are looking at ways that would allow companies and countries to buy into a carbon bank to offset their carbon emissions.  Their carbon bank would be created by reforesting areas with tree bombs.  Is is estimated that a single plane could plant 3,000 trees a minute or roughly 900,000 trees a day. These initial calculations estimate that 3,000 square miles could be reforested with one billion trees within a year.

It is great that this is being considered, but my few years of undergraduate biology class has taught me to be worried about over simplified ideas.  First off, who decides what trees to plant and where?  Mono-cultures are notorious for falling apart in the wild after a few years; a wide variety of trees need to be considered as well their placement if there’s even a chance for success.  Second, a successful forest requires meadows and other ecological systems nearby; bombing an area with trees and calling it a success is not feasible.  Thirdly, the planting might need to take several stages too depending on the soil conditions.  If an area of clear-cut forest has sat dormant for a few years the soil might not be capable of supporting a new forest.  Weeds and cover crops might be needed to prepare the area to support the planned forest and they might need to be left there 5 years or more.  There are numerous cases of clear-cut areas being planted with seedlings and 20 years later the clear-cut area is still bare.

I too love the idea, but would like to see more details.

Read more over at Tree Hugger.