Innovations-Canadian Made

We were so excited to profile this Canadian innovation story that one reader shared with us, that we changed the topic originally planned for this week. (The Tree Tributes post will now follow on January 23.)

At the start of our blogging adventure we shared the research evidence on how tree planting is one of the most impactful actions that citizens and government can do to slow global warming.

As a world research first, Thomas Crowther et al calculated how many trees are in the world – three trillion – how many more trees could be planted – one trillion – and what the impact of planting new trees on such a scale would be – planting one trillion trees would be sufficient to slow overall global warming to within the 1.5C to 2C maximum rise that scientists advise as necessary if humans want to avert catastrophic and irreversible climate changes that threaten our species’ survival.

These scientists computed that the “lung” capacity of planting new trees on such a scale, in terms of “sinking” harmful carbon dioxide and converting it to clean, life sustaining oxygen, would be equivalent to offsetting all the harmful carbon dioxide emitted by burning fossil fuels over the past 25 years. That’s the good news on tree planting to slow global warming. This message seems to be landing on “fertile” ground and capturing the imagination of youthful entrepreneurs in Canada – more about these inspiring Canadian citizens in just a “flash”.

Photo by Julie Tauber

Two more pieces of Canadian good news on the tree front – as a country, we have more capacity than most for land and environment suitable for tree planting and growth, and, our federal government has recently affirmed the commitment to plant two billion trees over ten years as part of Canada’s climate action plan. (Details yet to be released, however.)

Canadian Drone Plants Trees

Tree planting in actual practice is slow, hard, labour-intensive work. Until now. Thanks to our Reader Edmund, we are so excited to learn about this Canadian drone innovation by Canadian start-up Flash Foresthttps://flashforest.ca/.

Flash Forest states the following as its mission: “Automate. The timber industry has engineered and mastered efficient harvesting technologies, capable of quick clearing with minimal human involvement. Tree planting, on the other hand, still operates with bags and shovels. We can change that. Flash Forest is a reforestation company that can plant at 10 times the normal rate and at 20% of the cost of traditional tree planting techniques. With drone engineering, we bring new levels of accuracy, precision and speed to the reforestation industry. Our goal is to plant one billion trees by the year 2028.”

Here’s what motivates their mission: “Why Automate? According to the International Panel on Climate Change, we have 10 years to reverse climate change and prevent catastrophic run-away effects on our species and civilization. In 2018, 34 billion tons of CO2 was released by humans. This has been increasing since pre-industrial times and surpasses the earth’s natural ability to absorb it. Planting trees is currently the fastest and cheapest way today to sequester carbon. The average tree absorbs 40 lbs of C02 per year. With billions of trees planted each year we can effectively reverse our impact.”

By comparison, here is an instructive 6-minute video called Roots by One Tree Planted on what traditional methods of tree planting look like – still impressive and the main way it is done so far, at the back breaking rate of 1000 tree saplings per day per planter –  https://bit.ly/2TldFoS.

Photo by Lucia MacQuarrie

Flash Forest’s website shows their drone technology pilot testing results to back their claims that they can improve the tree planting rate by a factor of ten, while reducing costs significantly (20% of the cost compared to traditional methods).

One helpful tree graph also seems to imply the answer to a question we and some Readers have been wondering about  – are there certain trees that are best for Canada? Fast Forest is focusing on planting White Spruce, White Pine, Blue Spruce, Red Maple, White Birch, Sugar Maple, Douglas Fir, Balsam Fir.

If anyone is or knows a Soil Ecologist or Botanist, Fast Forest is looking for partner volunteers with these areas of expertise to add to their team.

This is not an endorsement, and as always, we encourage our Readers to do their own due diligence if planning on purchases, donations, investments or, volunteering. Based on their own website disclosure, Fast Forest is garnering a lot of media attention lately, which may be of interest at https://flashforest.ca/press.

Finally, to see what Canadian Tree Planting Drones look like in action in Creemore, Ontario  – pretty cool we think – here is the short two-minute YouTube video by Flash Forest that inspired this blog post! https://bit.ly/3836wh2

Canadians Building a Zero-Emission Concept Car

Trees are a critical part of the equation for carbon capture. Thank you, Trees! Human behaviour shifts, however, hold the key to success for reversing the upward global warming trajectory we remain stubbornly on and for overall success in combatting climate change.

Reducing our reliance on Green House Gas (GHG) emitting fossil fuels for energy, changing our energy consumption practices, including shifting to alternative “clean energy” options, are all important parts of the way forward to a healthier, viable Planet Earth. We wanted to end today’s blog post with one more piece of Innovation good news from Canada about zero-emission electric vehicles.

Thanks to CBC News for putting this story about Project Arrow on our radar. Project Arrow is a new project launched last week by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA), in an effort to “demonstrate the strength of the Canadian automotive sector,” by “building a zero-emission concept car entirely designed and made in Canada..” The full article is available at: https://bit.ly/2RaTYxc.

Just how big is the market for electric vehicles (EVs) in Canada we wondered? Bigger than we guessed, though not yet fully realized, according to statistics offered in this February 2019 article, also by the CBC. Apparently, “one in 11 new cars being sold is considered an EV”, and, “more than 11 million Canadians drive to work or a (EV) transit hub every weekday. The article outlines four factors that act currently as barriers to more Canadians switching over to EVs: cost to buy, EV battery range, limited recharging stations, and, time to recharge. https://bit.ly/35JY9oN.

Fortunately, progress toward better access to significantly more EV recharging stations may soon be made in at least one Canadian city we hope, if the recommendations in the December 2019 Dunsky Energy Consulting report – “City of Toronto Electric Vehicle Strategy: Supporting the City in Achieving its TransformTO Transportation Costs,” are adopted.

Photo by Lucia MacQuarrie

We learned about the report and some interesting Toronto EV facts thanks to this CP24 article, https://bit.ly/2Nm9hSm. For example, according to CP24’s highlights from the report, Toronto currently has 6300 electric vehicles registered, “representing about 0.6 per cent of all personal vehicles on city streets…..The strategy says that by 2025 the city should aim to have electric vehicles represent five per cent of all registered vehicles with that number rising to 20 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2040.”  Transforming car travel in Toronto in such a way, would need to be supported by city investments in “at least 220 fast-charging ports in public locations by 2020 (up from 75 currently) and 650 by 2030…”  To learn more, here is the full Dunsky EV report at: https://bit.ly/2t5j48O.

One closing thought from Norway on zero-emission vehicles, and how forward-thinking government policy and infrastructure investments are making a real difference in promoting and supporting rapid consumer behaviour changes. We subscribe to and recommend this informative CBC newsletter – What on Earth – which comes free by email to our inboxes each week. You can subscribe to What on Earth at: https://bit.ly/2uN8Uu1.

Thanks to What on Earth and a related CBC radio piece, we learned that in Norway last year about 60% of new car sales were electric, with customers on wait lists to buy more, thanks to government incentives that promote EV purchases. These incentives include: no delivery fees paid; no car taxes paid; free EV parking; no payment for charging stations; and EV drivers may use the HOV bus lane- https://bit.ly/383565U. A model worth considering here in Canada we think, and one we plan to ask our elected officials to be sure to investigate as part of improving and accelerating Canada’s climate action plan.

On January 13th, Catherine was delighted to see this billboard while waiting to catch the subway – tangible “signs” of positive climate action underway by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). “On A Mission to End Emissions” toward a “zero-emissions fleet by 2040.” Change is taking root!

Thank you for engaging with us in Friends4Trees4Life. We love hearing from our Readers and appreciate all your suggestions, questions, positivity and thoughtful volunteer research help! Please keep it coming.  Next week’s blog post will be on Tree Tributes…we promise.

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