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Susan Graham
September 3, 2021

We have recently been featured as part of this year’s speaker lineup at the TED Monterey Conference: The Case for Optimism. During the Climate Hope session, we highlighted how we can use drone technology and ecology-trained AI to restore degraded land and complex, biodiverse ecosystems. 

🎬 Watch the video, “A new way to restore earth’s biodiversity- from the air”,  go.ted.com/susangraham

Restoration is an enormous, complex challenge. It cannot be done by simply planting trees. It means bringing complex native ecosystems back to life and requires deep ecological expertise. If we want to revive the more than two billion hectares of degraded land and make a huge difference in our fight against climate change, we need to embrace innovative solutions

Until now, we have been limited to poor facsimiles like vast plantations of a single kind of tree. But drones change that by allowing us to gather data and plant the right mix of vegetation quickly at enormous scales. And machine learning analysis helps us plan that planting, and then monitor our restoration work. Dendra Systems uses drones and AI to restore areas damaged by industrial activities, natural disasters and invasive species. 

We can return forest to land where a mine used to be or re-create ecosystems like the one we’re helping restore on Lord Howe Island, home to the largest insect in the world. This unique island is plagued by imported weeds and we’re helping eradicate the undesirable plants to allow endemic species to thrive.

On a larger scale, native forests here in Australia have been decimated by catastrophic bushfires and land clearing for agriculture. This means diminished food sources and safe habitats for koala bears. A new project would accelerate the restoration of over 20,000 hectares of koala forests during the next four years.

Dendra’s technology can work at enormous scales, addressing the scale of the climate crisis— meaning we can use it to revive the beauty and complexity of native ecosystems both in a single forest and across the planet.