This article is sponsored by Telstra.
Inspired by the old-school flash games that used to take up the majority of our ‘computer class’ lessons at school, Telstra has launched its own low-fi game where you control drones that shoot seeds to plant trees — representing the company’s newest reforestation efforts in northern NSW.
Aptly-titled ‘Plant the Future’, the game’s mechanics are pretty simple: a drone flies automatically across empty green land where plots for trees await. You aim and fire as it moves, gaining more points depending on how close you get to the target. Addictive and cutesy, the game is both a rush of nostalgia and a reminder of the future of farming.
So what exactly is carbon farming? In essence, it’s an approach to reducing atmospheric greenhouse gases by storing carbon within vegetation and soil, with an emphasis on land restoration. In the case of Telstra’s new trial, they will plant around 158,000 native trees and shrubs over the next 25 years and across 240 hectares at Yarrowyck, in an effort to manage the area’s reforestation.
The trial will help balance farming efforts with the area’s natural ecosystem and contribute to a flourishing wildlife corridor between the Northern Tablelands and the Gwydir River, which flows across 600 km of Northern NSW.
And how do drones come into the mix? Just as in the game, they’ll carry out aerial seed planting — a process far less invasive than other mass planting techniques. Other tech will be used to monitor environmental conditions such as weather, as well as potentially monitoring tree health and carbon storage. The telecommunications company is also looking at how AI and robots can assist in pest and weed management to ensure the native trees grow, and exploring the use of a probiotic fertiliser produced by maggots to avoid methane emissions from food waste decay.
It’s all part of Telstra’s ongoing Environment Strategy, an ambitious goal to not just continue its carbon neutrality but enable renewable energy generation equivalent to 100% of its consumption by 2025, and reduce its absolute scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 50% by 2030. (Scope 1, 2 and 3 cover the range of a company’s emissions, from sources they directly own to purchased power like electricity, to all other emissions, like from suppliers, customers and investments.)
Telstra holds Australia’s largest certification through Climate Active as a carbon-neutral company and remains committed to creating a more sustainable Australia.