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One Tree Planted Receives RBC Tech for Nature Grant for Drones

Meaghan Weeden | May 6, 2021 | 4 min read

Leveraging drone technology to innovate and accelerate reforestation

We're excited to announce that we've received a grant from RBC Foundation USA to expand our reforestation and monitoring programs by developing a drone training program with a focus on forest restoration. We've long been interested in deploying drone technology to further our reforestation efforts, and have been researching ways to scale our global impact by making it accessible to our global planting network. 

This grant will allow us to develop a comprehensive training program to be shared across our network of hundreds of reforestation partners across the globe — and once implemented, will dramatically reduce monitoring costs for our partners, allowing them to maximize their impact. 

From RBC:
"At RBC, we believe in the power of innovative technologies to address and scale solutions to some of the most pressing environmental issues of our time,” said Valerie Chort, Vice-President, Corporate Citizenship & Sustainability, RBC. “We’re proud to be working alongside One Tree Planted to develop real-world, scalable solutions to tackle the challenges that continue to plague our environment.”

forest drone

Who is RBC Foundation USA and how does their program work?

RBC Foundation USA is a registered 501(c)(3) charity of RBC’s U.S. Wealth Management and U.S. Capital Markets businesses that provides donations to community nonprofits in support  of Youth, Arts & Culture, and the Environment. Realizing that the most pressing environmental concerns of our time are negatively impacting the planet at a rate that often outpaces the solutions designed to address them, RBC Foundation USA helps other charitable organizations employ innovative technologies to solve environmental challenges. The RBC Tech for Nature Program was created in recognition of the immense potential for technology to help us address the issues we face, and the need to get that technology into the hands of those working on the frontlines of the climate crisis. 

In their own words, "RBC’s Tech for Nature Program specifically supports technology-driven programs focused on: 

  • Data: Transforming the collection, accuracy and availability of environmental data; building tools to democratize info; enhancing predictive capabilities; to help people, communities and scientists make informed decisions.
  • Innovation Ecosystem: Fostering an innovation ecosystem of environmental entrepreneurs, ventures, and charities that are developing technology solutions to address environmental challenges.
  • Communities of Action: We believe that through technology we can empower individuals to work with their communities and positively change their behavior to produce a notable change for our planet.
planting tree british columbia

how drones help reforestation

Drones and reforestation may seem incongruous, but they're actually kind of a match made in heaven. Why? Drones can collect high resolution spatial data in remote areas, which enables accurate, data driven analyses that reduces the need for more time consuming, manual monitoring of planting sites. Because drones can fly at a low altitude, they can also capture extremely high spatial resolution imagery, which allows for accurate monitoring of forest loss, degradation, regrowth process, and other important on-ground metrics. These can be used to assess forest health conditions, carbon storage, and even biodiversity levels.

Drone technology also enables the generation of three dimensional forestry modeling that has the potential to track forest structure parameters like height, basal area, and tree density. This makes it easier to estimate above-ground biomass, which helps to improve carbon storage assessments. 

The enhanced monitoring capabilities of drones also allow for regular, frequent time-series photography and real-time videography which can track time sensitive disturbances like fire and illegal land-use changes that alter forest cover. This allows for efficient and quick response time to prevent further deforestation, and direct immediate restoration needs.

drone photography redwood forest

How Our Drone Program will work

The first year of this program will act as a pilot and will entail close collaboration between one of our awesome planting partners in California and forestry experts on our team. Together, we'll design training materials, develop processes to analyze data, create an implementation plan, enable our partners to produce high-level maps & frequent time-series photography, and explore the capabilities of 3D imagery. After this foundation has been established, we will be able to scale the program and launch it globally to our network of hundreds of partners around the world.

Local empowerment of planting organizations to monitor with drones will improve the quality and quantity of spatial data collected and leave a lasting impact on restoration efforts It will help to address the global problem of deforestation through the collection of various datasets, metrics, photography, videography, which will be openly accessible to our network of partners. Providing this data empowers the reforestation movement, allowing foresters around the world to analyze and learn from other tree plantings, so they can best adapt their practices and scale their plantings in more efficient and successful ways.

We're so excited to work together with RBC Foundation USA and our partners to turn this vision into a reality! 

Want to help? Consider planting a tree with us today!

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

As the need for reforestation is global and ever-changing, we feature where trees are most needed now. Today, we're raising funds to jumpstart forest fire recovery in British Columbia. Learn more

With your help, we will:

  • Restore landscapes damaged by a historic season of wildfires
  • Create habitat for iconic biodiversity like the moose and grizzly bear
  • Support old-growth management areas to maintain complex ecosystems
  • This reforestation initiative is helping to restore the landscape in British Columbia after the Hanceville fire burned over 590,000 acres in 2017 and natural regeneration has not occurred. The fire has impacted the forest, soils, riparian ecosystems, wildlife, and water quality. Local indigenous communities have seen their ability to hunt and gather food drastically altered. But your support will go a long way! The goal of planting trees here is to not only re-establish a healthy forest, but also to plant species that will be resilient in the face of climate change. Thank you so much for your support of healthy forests! 🌲
  • Planting trees will catalyze the process of returning the area to a forested state. Newly planted trees will begin the process of sequestering atmospheric carbon, and over time improve the hydrological benefits of the forest. The ecosystems that have been greatly simplified by extreme fire conditions will once again become complex ecosystems, This project will also create habitat for many local wildlife species including mule deer, moose, black and grizzly bear, wolves, sandhill cranes, various raptors, songbirds, and small mammals.
  • A personalized tree certificate (see gallery) to say thanks for your donation. We'll also send you updates about this project, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the community and environment.
  • B.C.'s rich forest diversity includes more than 40 different species of native trees, with some of Canada’s most interesting and valuable tree species. In this project, we made efforts to maximize species diversity, including the following species: Douglas-fir, lodgepole pine, hybrid spruce, ponderosa pine, trembling aspen.

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