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Life

Thai team fights climate change with aerial reseeding

Pioneer scientists seek to move reforesting from the Stone Age to the drone age

Biologist Stephen Elliott ponders the use of drones in what has been his life’s work -- the regrowth of tropical forests destroyed by man and natural causes. (Photo by Denis Gray)

MAE SA MAI, Thailand -- The Phantom whirred skyward, hovered, then veered off to skim over a tropical forest, peering into its tangled, soaring canopy. It was a test mission for this agile drone -- not to target an enemy hiding below, but to bring new life to woodlands by ''bombing'' them with cascades of seeds.

Directing the drone team from a grassy knoll at the forest's edge was Stephen Elliott, a biologist and pioneer in the regrowth of perhaps the earth's most complex ecosystem -- a tropical forest. Now, he is breaching another frontier: preparing to harness drones for work that currently requires intensive manual labor in remote, treacherous terrain where humans are loathe to tread.

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