Flash Forest raises $11.4 million CAD to support reforestation using drones and AI

three workers in visibility vests observe as drones take off over burn landscape with mountains and forest in the background
Manual reforestation can be labour-intensive, but this startup claims it can be done in a flash.

Toronto-based Flash Forest, which uses drones to automate reforestation after wildfires, has completed an $11.4 million CAD Series A funding round.

The investment was co-led by the Telus Pollinator Fund for Good, and OurCrowd, an online global venture investing platform. Flash Forest said the capital will support the expansion of its post-wildfire reforestation solution across North America to fight climate change.

Flash Forest claims it can produce 200,000 seed pods per day, omitting the energy-intensive nursery phase in tree planting.

Climate change has accelerated the frequency and worsened the severity of wildfires. This damage to forests in turn worsens the climate crisis further, because trees act as a carbon sink. Between 2001 and 2021, fires were responsible for about a third of tree cover loss globally, representing 119 million hectares of trees.

Using drones, AI, geographic information systems (GIS), and plant science, Flash Forest automates the manual processes involved in reforestation to help fight the impacts of climate change. Founded by Bryce Jones (CEO), Angelique Ahlström (CSO), and Cameron Jones (COO) in 2019, Flash Forest’s mission is to plant one billion trees by 2028.

Flash Forest also entered a multi-year commercial agreement with Telus’s sustainability and environment team. As part of the initiative, Telus will offer Flash Forest’s drone planted trees for its clients.

Flash Forest works with multiple partners on a per-project basis to ensure “its planting costs stay low and its trees grow.” Both public and private landowners in Canada’s boreal forests and the Pacific Northwest use Flash Forest’s technology to reforest post-burn landscapes.

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Every corporate partnership is matched by government dollars, according to Flash Forest, which has previously received funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada, Emissions Reduction Alberta, Climate Ventures’ Earth Tech accelerator, and Innovate BC.

Flash Forest’s goal to plant one billion trees in five years will be made possible, the company said, by automating the manufacturing and deployment of its seed pods. It claims it can mass produce over 200,000 seed pods per day, which eliminates the energy-intensive nursery phase in tree planting.

Flash Forest also aims to reduce waste and energy in transportation because of its seed pods’ compact size. Flash Forest said it selects species that are native to the planting locations of each project and are able to thrive in post-burn environments.

As for its drones, Flash Forest said they are equipped with deployers which are able to embed its seedpods beneath the soil surface, negating the need for site prep.

Feature image courtesy Flash Forest.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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