Planting trees with hot air balloons and paragliders

Planting trees with hot air balloons and paragliders

This is another thing that I haven’t seen before. Seedballs that are planted by throwing them from the air. I came across this video from the Instagram of Leonardo Dicaprio on which is shown how Kenyans are replanting vanishing forests in an extraordinary way. Read on if you want to learn more about planting trees in Kenya.




Kenya has the most diverse forests in East Africa. There is lowland rainforest in western Kenya, montane forest in the central and western highlands and
on higher hills and mountains along the border. But most forests are highly fragmented and under pressure. From an international point of view, Kenya is a low forest cover country considering that it has less than 10 per cent of total land area classified as forest as recommended by the United Nations. Deforestation has long been a problem.


Because the lack of forest and trees, the Kenyan government is currently working with public and private stakeholders to reach the United Nations’ target of 10% tree cover for the country. Reaching this goal is, however, an improvement. Right now, Kenya’s total land area is covered with as least as 7% forest.


Reaching that goal is not only important for environmental benefits, but also for social ones. Today, the remaining forests are vital resources locally, nationally and regionally. Enough forest cover improves the climate, regulates stream and river flows, conserves and protects the soil mantle; and provides stable habitats for wildlife. The latter, together with wilderness values, are the foundation of Kenya’s important tourist industry.


But forests and trees are also the backbone of many important economic activities. They are the source of virtually all the nation’s supply of building timber, poles, veneers and plywood, wood-fuel, pulp and paper. Other commodities and services from forests and trees include fruits, oils, tannins, resins, medicines, fibre, shade, browse and fodder. The last three are of particular importance to man and livestock, especially in the arid and semi-arid land areas.


So the need for Kenya to increase her forest cover is urgent. It’s why the Kenian government recently launched an ambitious project that not only aims to reach that target of 10%, but also tries to increase the country’s forest cover to 15% by the year 2022.



Seeds eaten by animals and insects

But reaching that forest cover standard is quite a challenge. Many insects and animals block the way for trees to grow, because they eat the seeds before they germinate. But by the pace at which conventional tree planting takes place, perhaps it will take years to reach that level too.


That’s why the founder of the seed balls designed a small, black marble-sized pellet: a single tree seed coated in a charcoal shell. The shell is there to stop it from being eaten by insects and animals. Once the rains come, the water will wash away the coating and the seeds will germinate.


In this article of the BBC you can read Teddy saying: “One seedball has the potential to grow another million trees because if it becomes a mother tree in one area that’s been over-exploited and very degraded, it will start re-seeding some of these places”.


Kenyans are replanting vanishing forests. They are planting trees in Kenya by dropping charcoal-coated tree seed balls on to the ground and allowed to take root.





Paragliding, hot air balloons and other adventurous sports

But how to replant a whole country with those tree seeds… It would be a mammoth task.


Teddy says: “Aeroplanes and helicopters are probably the only way to get the job done quickly and in this day and age with GPS guidance and precision technology you can get things to exactly where you need to: so the right seed in the right place, at the right time”.


He has persuaded a number of helicopter charter companies to keep bags of seedballs under the seats so passengers can join the push to reforest Kenya. His own fingers are black from throwing seedballs out of the open door of a helicopter.


“We just planted 20,000 tree seeds in less than 20 minutes,” he smiles. “It means that you can lower the cost of tree planting incredibly compared to the traditional method of digging holes and transporting seedlings.”


It is possible to plant a thousand tree seeds a minute using aerial seeding by helicopter.






For sure, planting trees in Kenya is bitter necessity and the introduction of the seedball is more than inventive. But will it work? I’m curious what you think of this. You think these seed balls can solve Kenya’s deforestation crisis?


Also head over to these blogs if you’re interested in more ideas in philanthropy that change the world for the better:




640 426 Lisanne Swart
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