Drones can lend some invaluable help in re-greening efforts, Source: Unsplash

Drones might re-green the Slovenian Karst after wildfires

Drones might re-green the Slovenian Karst after wildfires

The flying machines will disperse seed balls in order to try to save the thin and sensitive soil from erosion in the autumn

This summer’s drought and wildfires have damaged more than three thousand hectares of the Slovenian region of Karst. As a response, a local ecological civil initiative (Ekoci) submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Agriculture to regreen the area with the use of drones, which would disperse seed balls. The Ministry seems to have liked the idea as the activists reported that the proposal has been passed on to the Forestry Agency to include it in its rehabilitation plans.

The use of the flying technology here would be key due to several factors. On one hand, there is the inaccessibility of the terrain for human interventions. On the other, there is also the need to act in a timely manner to preserve the sensitive layer of soil in the region.

Firefighting is done from the sky, so why not re-foresting

Timing is of the essence in this operation because after the fires burnt off the vegetation, the soil in the Karst had been left exposed. And unlike other places, letting it stay bare could prove risky.

"If we have a windy autumn with a strong gale or severe storms with downpours, all this soil will be carried away and then we will be left with stone," warned Matjaž Levičar, a permaculture forest grower who participated in the greening of degraded areas in Cambodia.

"It would be highly recommended to catch this autumn rain, we have set ourselves a deadline to get an answer by the end of August," said Irena Rotar, president of the Ekoci initiative, speaking to RTV SLO.

The idea of the experts is to first plant cereals, such as buckwheat and millet, with drones or helicopters. These plants can help speed up the greening process as they take root quickly and retain the soil and the moisture when it rains. After that, shrubs and trees can be replanted safely. Now, the ground is too hot for the manual planting of seedlings anyway and they would just perish.

The Slovenian Karst region is famous for its rocky and cavernous topography and is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.



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