A modern Johnny Appleseed: Meet the Seattle drone startup replanting forests after wildfires

By Lisa Stiffler
September 18, 2022

A swarm of giant drones nav­i­gates a scorched moon­scape, trac­ing the rugged topog­ra­phy. The scene has a des­o­late, sci-fi vibe — but its real­i­ty is root­ed in the ter­ra firma.

The devices belong to Drone­Seed, a Seat­tle start­up deploy­ing tech­nol­o­gy to help restore some of the mil­lions of acres of forests that have burned in wild­fires across the U.S. and beyond. The con­fla­gra­tions include fires so intense that they don’t leave any live trees to pro­vide new seeds or seeds in the soil, and so mas­sive that they cre­ate bar­ren islands far from seed sources. Left alone, the burns could sit as tree­less grass or shrub­land for years.

As anoth­er dev­as­tat­ing wild­fire sea­son (hope­ful­ly) winds down, the com­pa­ny will be dis­pers­ing seeds this fall and spring over hun­dreds of acres in Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon, Cal­i­for­nia and Montana.

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