Gallery E
From The Sky
Page 2
Page 3

Covering The Earth With Trees

By James Donahue

We have some good environmental news to report. It seems that Lockheed Martin is teaming up with Aerial Forestation Inc. of Newton, Massachusetts to restore a fleet of decommissioned C-130 Hercules cargo planes for use in reforesting the world.

The idea was dreamed up by former UK Royal Air Force pilot Jack Walters about 25 years ago. Walters envisioned using the C-130s, which were equipped to drop land mines, to do mass aerial plantings of trees instead.

Walters presented the idea in a paper he published while at the University of British Columbia, Canada. It took a while, but it appears that somebody read the publication and is preparing to run with it.

Moshe Alamaro, a representative of Aerial Forestation, has been in contact with Walters. "It was a great idea," he said. Walters tested his idea, which involved placing seedlings in small metallic containers filled with rich soil and water, and designed to burrow into the ground on impact.

The idea worked, but the problem was that the containers had to be dropped in containers that held together on impact. Now, with metal that biodegrades after it hits the soil, it is possible to plant thousands of trees on a single flight.

While the plan is being explored by both Lockheed Martin and Aerial Forestation Inc., it still needs sponsors to bring it to fruition. Lockheed hopes to market the idea to companies wishing to offset large carbon footprints, like coal burning industrial firms.

A report in Treehugger noted that there are about 2,500 decommissioned C-130’s parked in 70 different countries that could easily be put to use as foresters. A single plane can be outfitted to drop up to 900,000 trees in a single day.

Lockheed’s Peter Simmons said: "The possibilities are amazing. We can fly at 1,000 feet at 130 knots planning more than 3,000 cones a minute in a pattern across the landscape – just as we did with landmines, but in this case each cone contains a sapling. That’s 125,000 trees for each sortie and 900,000 trees in a day."

If the idea catches on and enough companies agree to participate, it would be possible to turn the Earth green again within the next few years. All those trees would go a long way toward reducing the buildup of carbon in the atmosphere and restoring the oxygen levels that is to vital to living creatures, including mankind.