The AI for Good Foundation asks Aymeric Maudous, the founder of Lord of the Trees, about his company’s impact on SDG 15, Life on Land. We are proud to have Aymeric as a member of our Council for Good, and are inspired by the innovative ways LOTT is merging technology with natural processes to save crucial ecosystems.
Can you tell us about yourself and Lord of the Trees?
I am the founder of Lord of the Trees. We are a reforestation and ecosystem restoration project that uses drones, robotics, artificial intelligence, science, and indigenous knowledge to plant seedpods in deforested areas worldwide.
We mainly work after wildfires, mining rehabilitation, and with farmers.
Mother Nature has been planting forests using seeds for millions of years with the help of birds pooping seeds all over the landscapes. Bird’s poop is full of nutrients and those seeds dropped by birds always have a better chance of survival because of the rich dense nutrients in the poop.
That’s what is so exciting about what Lord of the Trees is doing; we have multiple seeding methods that are best matched to what the environment needs at the time.
Your technology has almost doubled the success rate of seed planting as compared to manual methods. How is this possible?
There are really 2 ways to plant and regenerate landscapes: planting seedlings and direct seeding.
Planting seedlings: the best planter by foot will plant up to 800 seedlings per day, that is from sunrise to sunset. It is a hard task, and planters are doing a tremendous job doing this. One gets instant gratification of seeing these little seedlings in the landscape, however, here in Australia, when doing this for mining restoration, those seedlings have a failure rate of 60-70%.
We, therefore, choose direct seeding. So whilst the seeds go in the ground, we must wait for them to germinate, and have the patience to see those seeds grow. We are however establishing a stronger root system that will be 70% stronger than a seedling. In time the inner strength of the plant is much stronger. And the failure rate of seeding is only around 15%.
Forest regeneration has obvious impacts on SDG 15, Life on Land. How important is it to save native species that are almost extinct?
There is a lot that happens before a species becomes extinct. When a species becomes endangered, it is a sign that the ecosystem is slowly falling apart.
A species just doesn’t die overnight and there is a slow degeneration of the species until it becomes almost extinct. Each species that is lost triggers the loss of other species within its ecosystem like dominos.
Losing any one species is a tragedy, but what is even more concerning is the loss of a species’ ecological role following its extinction.
Forests are so important because they provide the necessary home for thousands of species. With this in mind, what do you think are the secondary impacts of your work for SDG 15, Life on Land? What other SDGs are affected?
Like Nature, we need to embrace diversity. We need to understand the direct relationships between the use of harmful chemicals in farms impacting the coral reefs downstream just as much as we need to understand the importance of wildflowers to sustain the collapsing of bee populations that naturally sustain agriculture. Everything is linked and I think that there is an opportunity for regenerative agriculture to work with nature in supporting healthy ecosystems while producing food. As such, our work goes beyond SDG 15. The two other most obvious SDG we tackle are SDG 13- Climate action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, and SDG 14- Life below water: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.
Internally as a company, we also focus on SDG 5- Gender equality: achieve gender equality and empower women and girls, SDG 8- Decent work and economic growth: Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, and at last SDG 12- Responsible consumption and Production: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
As you are regenerating ecosystems, the rainforest is being destroyed more and more. In spite of this, are you hopeful about the potential of technology to defend #LifeonLand?
Young trees absorb CO2 at a rate of 5.9 kilos per tree each year. Trees reach their most productive stage of carbon storage at about 10 years at which point they are estimated to absorb 21.8 kilos of CO2 per year. At that rate, they release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support two human beings.
There is deforestation of rainforests all over the world, including here in Australia. As we understand and appreciate that Nature takes its time in growing plants, it is our mission at Lord of the Trees to plant as many trees as possible thanks to AI and our breakthrough technology.
The opportunities to restore degraded landscapes with our new technology are very diverse. We are soon going to help restore mangrove habitats in Queensland and help sustain an endangered bat species in Mexico that is a key species for the entire Mezcal and Tequila production. Our future is full of exciting opportunities when we apply tech for good for the Earth.