House Bill Would Direct Feds to Use Drones, Remote Sensors in U.S. Reforestation Efforts


The legislation calls for a five-year pilot program aimed at removing carbon from the atmosphere.

America’s Agriculture and Interior Secretaries would be required to implement a five-year pilot program to assess and deploy emerging technologies that can help regenerate the nation’s forests and woodlands, under House legislation introduced Wednesday.

Put forth by Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, and multiple cosponsors, the Forest TECH Improvement Act calls for the integration of innovative tools into U.S. reforestation pursuits. 

In this case, TECH stands for “Technology Enhancements for Conservation and Habitat.” 

“Forests are our best resource for removing carbon from the atmosphere, and it is imperative that we utilize advanced technologies to quickly plant more trees, accurately track growth rates, and effectively manage our forests,” Moore said.

That reforestation-focused pilot program would be brand new or an expansion of a relevant existing one, according to the bill. The effort would encompass a comprehensive assessment of new technologies—specifically including drones and geospatial or remote sensing assets—across all America-based reforestation activities. Subsequent work would also need to accelerate the integration of such technologies into federal operations, and the secretaries would also need to collaborate with state, tribal and private geospatial information system organizations regarding the solutions available.

In the first year following the bill’s passage, the senior officials would also need to enter into an  “agreement to develop consistent protocols and plans for the use of unmanned aircraft system technologies” in reforestation efforts.

The legislation is backed by the National Wildlife Federation and the American Conservation Coalition, among other organizations. It was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture.