Drones to be used for aerial seeding on Margalla Hills

Updated March 18, 2019

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Aerial seeding was conducted in the Margalla Hills in the 1980s, but that time, seeds of local trees were dropped. ─ AP/File
Aerial seeding was conducted in the Margalla Hills in the 1980s, but that time, seeds of local trees were dropped. ─ AP/File

ISLAMABAD: Though aerial seeding is not a new phenomenon in the federal capital, it has been decided to use drones for forest densification on the Margalla Hills this time.

“We conducted an experiment a week ago and dropped some seed pods in the hills and we have now decided to conduct an aggressive aerial seeding to increase greenery in the Margalla Hills. Though it looks like the hills are all green and covered with dense forest, the fact is there are more shrubs than trees,” the spokesperson for the chief commissioner’s office, Nauman Shah told Dawn.

Aerial seeding was done in the 1960s in the federal capital, during which seeds of paper mulberry were also dropped. Paper Mulberry trees in the city have now become a reason for pollen allergies.

Aerial seeding was conducted in the Margalla Hills in the 1980s, but that time, seeds of local trees were dropped.

Mr Shah said that this time, it has been decided that seed balls of 15 approved species will be dropped.

“If the campaign is successful in Islamabad, it can be replicated across Pakistan, especially in the mountainous areas,” he said.

Last year in July, a large number of residents of the federal capital and environmentalists took part in preparing seed balls and spread them in the hills.

The chances of a seed taking are just 10pc due to which seed balls are used across the world, which increased the chances of the seeds taking to 50pc.

A seed is covered with clay and fertilized to make a seed ball.

Mr Shah said there are so many shrubs on Margalla Hills that it is impossible or very difficult to get to most of the areas.

“It is very expensive to use planes for aerial plantation. When using planes, seed balls are thrown from a great height, increasing the chances of the balls breaking or not falling in the right place. Drones will be less expensive and they will also be able to drop the seeds from a lower height and in targeted areas,” he said.

He said that the step has been taken to ensure that the number of trees on Margalla Hills would be increased.

“Now technology is affordable and we have decided to use it. As seed balls are successful across the globe so we will also use them because they have a better survival rate. I am sure that in coming years residents of the federal capital will observe that the number of trees have increased on the hills,” Mr Shah said.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2019