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Alamaro

Aerial Reforestation

Moshe Alamaro, a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering at MIT, has developed a revolutionary method of battling global warming: planting new trees from the air.

MosheAs most people are aware, millions of acres of forest have been destroyed in the last century, due not only to humans---most notably the lumber industry---but also to climatic change and forest fires. Traditional reforestation methods, tedious and time-consuming, can replace only a tiny percentage of these trees.

Alamaro has invented an incredibly efficient system. He designed conical canisters, of a starchy biodegradable material, which eachcontain a seedling packed in soil and nutrients. The canisters are dropped from a low-flying plane, so that they hit the ground at 200 m.p.h., and imbed themselves in the soil. Then the canisters decompose and the young trees take root. A large aircraft could drop as many as 100,000 saplings in a single flight: Alamaro's system could plant as many as a million trees in one day.

Unsuccessful experiments along similar lines were done in Canada in the early 1970s. But Alamaro, an aeronautical engineer, has made the process practicable. He uses a combination of ballistics and navigation technology to place the saplings accurately. His canisters are strong enough to withstand the impact but still decompose quickly. Moreover, Alamaro's system is overseen by a airborne surveillance system, which guarantees safety and also monitors the early growth of the trees.

Alamaro is now joining forces with international conservation and energy organizations. Large-scale reforestation significantly reduces the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus counteracting global warming. In addition, new trees fight erosion, promote biodiversity, and protect the habitat of local wildlife. Unsurprisingly, Moshe Alamaro's ideas have stirred up a great deal of interest, and hopefully it will not be long before his unique and efficient system is being used around the world.

[Dec. 1997]



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