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Around the world, climate change – and the wildfires, desertification and deforestation it causes – is destroying the habitats of millions of humans and animals. And it’s a vicious circle: the ongoing loss of trees and vegetation reduces nature’s ability to remove harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, worsening the effect and accelerating the process.
After seeing the devastating impact of wildfires around the world, we began to think of ways we could help. Our first solution combines drone technology with one of the UAE’s natural treasures.
Introducing the Ghaf Tree Project. An ambitious initiative to re-green barren eco-systems by planting millions of ghaf trees – a species native to the UAE.
The national tree of the UAE, the ghaf (Prosopis cineraria) is a hardy, drought-tolerant tree that improves the quality of both the soil in which it’s planted, and the air around it. With roots growing up to eighty metres, each ghaf absorbs up to 34.65kg of harmful carbon dioxide a day, later releasing it as oxygen.
They also provide an important habitat and food source for a wide range of animals and birds, including the desert eagle owl and the long-legged buzzard.
Planting Ghaf Trees is a labour-intensive process. The UAE’s desert climate, with summer temperatures often topping 45°C, means that manual work is best avoided at all but the coolest parts of the day. Given the extent of planting required to make a difference to the environment, this presents a seemingly insurmountable problem.
Our answer? Using highly advanced AI-driven drone technology to remove the ‘human element’ from the planting process, and deliver a ‘Made in the UAE’ solution that will see up to one million Ghaf Trees planted across the UAE, radically improving its natural environment and eco-system.
How we do it
Merlin Green Partners
As part of MGP’s own corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme, this leading organic producer of fruit and vegetables lent us their expertise, and the services of their agricultural engineers, at no cost, and supported the collection and preparation of the Ghaf seeds.
UAE Ministry of Energy & Infrastructure
As the body responsible for the maintenance of the UAE’s road network, the MEI plants tens of thousands of trees to protect carriageways against sand ingress. With a view to adapting our drone technology to aid their planting, the ministry provided desert land for experimentation and sponsored our R&D efforts.
Government of Sharjah Department of Civil Aviation
A partner since 2019, Sharjah DCA sponsored our drone flights and provided the necessary flight permits.
Sharjah Environment & Protected Areas Authority
The main agency responsible for planting in Sharjah, and a partner since 2019, the EPAA donated a 20,000m2 plot of land on which to carry out planting trials and experiments, as well as providing one million Ghaf seeds.
AG Facilities & Contracting
Supported the collection and sorting of more than two million Ghaf seeds in just 21 days, a remarkable effort that led to the company receiving the ‘Sustainable Initiative of the Year’ award at the 2021 Innovation in Facilities Management Awards.
One of the GCC’s first drone training and pilot certification facilities, Sanad Academy has been closely involved with the Ghaf Tree Project since its inception, providing pilots and ground crew, along with training services, and testing facilities for our mechanical and electrical systems.
United Arab Emirates University
UAEU is among the GCC’s most respected academic institutions, and is recognised as the leading agricultural school in the UAE. The university’s agricultural faculty and students are working in close collaboration with us to support our planting project, and to explore opportunities to transfer the technology to other plant species.