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3.04 - What is your planting method?

At Tree-Nation we do not have just one planting method as we believe it is important to adapt to local specifications and promote various planting techniques.


In details:

There exists a wide range of planting techniques. Some, very established, coming from the wood industry, often focused on results and survival rate, while some others will focus on natural selection or preserving the genetic patrimony of a local strain.

It is our belief that we should not pick a winner but allow a certain competition between techniques, and always provide room to learn and to experiment. This is why our techniques range from ones that mimic animal burying seeds to drones or highly engineered solutions.

Each technique has its pros and cons. A good example for this is survival rate. If you reach a high survival rate, it seems very successful but, in fact, it also means you don't allow enough natural selection of the fittest species. In the long term it may result in a forest that includes weaker trees which will be less resistant to pests or diseases.

Very importantly, our solutions do not limit to how we plant the trees but also on how we interact with local communities that will benefit from those trees. While drones will compete against volunteers in some high-income regions, it makes much more sense to use manpower in areas where we can improve living conditions by providing good and honest jobs. You can read more about this in the next FAQ on maintenance

Below we will detail the main techniques we use and their benefits. Very soon we will add a section on each project page to indicate which planting techniques are used for each project.

Planting methods:

  • Direct seeding

The sowing of seeds directly into the soil where the trees are to be established. 

Benefits: This technique can reduce the cost of regeneration up to 50% when compared to seedlings transplant. Trees grow strong and are well adapted to their environment. 

Cons: Low survival rate.

  • Direct seeding – Muvuca

A direct-seeding method which involves spreading the seeds of hundreds of varieties of native species over every square meter of land. 

Benefits: Instead of the planter, this technique lets Nature make its own selection of which species will grow in which spot. Depending on the soil composition, the species that are best fitted will grow, in a sort of Darwinian natural competition. It also creates a more naturally spread vegetation and dense forest. 

Cons: Low survival rate and you need a vast number of seeds that in some cases may be hard to find. 

  • Direct seeding – Seed bomb

One seed, or multiple, wrapped in a mixture of clay and compost, protecting the seed from harsh weather conditions and seed-eating animals. 

Benefits: Easy to manipulate and quick to plant, this technique can also be used to throw seedbombs in difficult to reach areas. 

Cons: wrapping the seeds is very time consuming.

  • Direct seeding – Aerial seeding

Technique of sowing seeds by dropping them from a drone, plane or helicopter. This method allows to disperse seeds into difficult to reach locations. 

Benefits: This technique is still experimental but if well mastered may allow a cheap and automated method to plant at a large scale. 

Cons: Low survival rate / a high number of seeds can simply be eaten by wild animals.


  • Nursery seedlings transplant

Seedlings transition from the nursery to their permanent site. Seedlings spend 3-6 months in nurseries before being transplanted, usually during the rainy season. The seedling bags are usually plastic, in this case the seedlings are removed from the bag to be transplanted into the soil. 

Benefits: This technique is the most widespread in tree planting. It allows an orderly and professional approach to planting trees with a great control on quantities planted, species and survival rate.

Cons: Disposal of the plastic bags can be an issue. Seedlings grow in optimum conditions while in nursery and are then transplanted to the real world. While trees may maintain a high survival rate in the first years, they are less well adapted to their environment once in the wild.

  • Nursery biodegradable seedlings bags transplant

Seedlings transition from the nursery to their permanent site. In this case bags used are biodegradable, so there is no need to remove the seedlings, reducing the risk of a transplant shock. 

Benefits: this technique has the obvious benefit of not using any plastic in its process.  

Cons: more costly, harder to produce and often fragile to manipulate. Seedlings grow in optimum conditions and are then transplanted to the real world, a lot of seedlings don’t survive in the wild.

  • Assisted natural regeneration

Protection and preservation of natural tree seedlings in forested areas, employing different techniques to remove or reduce barriers to natural forest regeneration. 

Benefits: It's a very natural approach well suited to existing forested areas which is also inexpensive. 

Cons: With this technique, the results take longer to measure and the trees are harder to count.