Farming from the air: How Australia is fighting the climate crisis

Aerial farming
How Australia is fighting the climate crisis

Red soil, intense heat, devastating bushfires: Australia is the second driest continent after Antarctica. Large parts of the interior are hardly habitable. Climate change is happening. Environmentalists are trying to turn scorched and devastated landscapes green again.

Red sands, and endless remote landscapes, in the middle of the famous massif of Uluru: the interior of Australia fascinates and makes long-distance travelers from all over the world curious. But for the country and its people, the dry center is a real challenge. Because of the harsh living conditions, they are sparsely populated. According to a 2016 statistic, 85 percent of Australians live within 50 kilometers of the coast. Because in the so-called outback, which makes up 70 percent of Australia, desert-like conditions can reign with temperatures over 40 degrees.

Therefore, environmentalists and companies are interested in the question of whether the red continent can at least partially turn green again using modern technologies in order to defy the worst consequences of climate change. Droughts, devastating fires, record temperatures, floods – humans and animals constantly face new disasters. There have been particularly devastating bushfires in the Australian summer of 2019/2020.

aerial tree planting

Young Australian Company AirSeed Now he wants to plant millions of trees by 2024 – from the air. These are the places where fires most severely attack the vegetation cover. The company, which was founded in 2019, works with environmental scientists to create cultivation patterns and produce capsules containing seeds and nutrients, which are then dropped by drones into a designated area.

“Our primary mission is to restore lost biodiversity by planting native species of trees, shrubs and grasses,” said Managing Director Andrew Walker. “Everything we grow should benefit local ecosystems.”

The drone can reach the most remote areas. “Our approach is about 25 times faster and 80 percent more cost-effective than manual cultivation methods,” Walker said. So far, AirSeed has planted 150,000 trees in this way, and hundreds of thousands will follow in the coming months.

Reforestation also in the rainforest

also Reforest now It devoted itself to reforestation – however, the organization is not intended for remote areas, but parts of the rainforest in the tropical north and in the subtropical northeast of the country. “We’re not doing this because it’s easy, but because we live on the world’s driest continent, and reforestation is badly needed,” the site says.

Action greening australia, a non-profit corporation that has been in existence for 40 years. Through projects that include restoring damaged remote habitats, protecting the Great Barrier Reef and green cities, the organization aims to achieve its vision of “healthy and productive landscapes where people and nature thrive.” Among other things, environmentalists want to build a national network of seed collectors and at the same time find new ways to produce local seeds.

Rain comes in bulk – but when?

But the climatic conditions are difficult and cannot be calculated. “Australia is a dry continent,” says Glenda Wardle, professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Sydney. “It gets a lot of rain but at unpredictable times.” “There are a lot of years of drought and then a lot of rain. So out of bad conditions come the sudden opportunities where it’s green.”

But the scientist – who heads a research group on desert environment – is skeptical about the permanent greening of arid and semi-arid hinterland. “It’s probably a misconception that Australia can go artificially green permanently,” she says. “There is rainwater and groundwater, but the resources are limited. To maintain a green desert, you need a continuous supply – and there isn’t.”

“Don’t plant forests where they don’t belong”

However, it is a good idea to “replant” the devastated areas “with similar native species and with a similar density.” However, afforestation isn’t always the right answer: “We shouldn’t plant forests where they don’t belong,” Wardle says. Instead, it must be ensured that no other areas are trimmed or otherwise modified.

The organization is committed to preserving endangered lands Bush Heritage Australia a. It was founded in 1991 by green politician Bob Brown with the goal of purchasing and preserving particularly endangered ecosystems. Meanwhile, 39 reserves with a total area of ​​1.2 million hectares have already been purchased. In addition, the organization works with indigenous and other landowners to help protect millions of hectares of land.

Lots of exposed landscape

“We have quite a few national parks and nature reserves, but there are still a lot of landscapes that are either completely unprotected or insufficiently protected,” says ecologist Ank Frank. The German lives and works on one of the protected lands – the 233,000-hectare Bilonga Reserve in the Simpson Desert of Queensland, traditionally owned by the indigenous Wangkamadla people.

For example, the herbs cinefix that grow in a circle and spread in arid regions are protected here. “The grass provides a lot of protection,” Ank Frank says. “It’s very prickly and predators have trouble catching the animals underneath.” But if there is a lot of forest, then the grass on the lawn will be crushed and destroyed by cattle, for example. The expert is convinced: Afforestation in the wrong place can spoil the ecosystem – or even destroy it.

See also  Novak Djokovic at the start of the Australian Open despite compulsory vaccination?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.