An Australian-first drone re-seeding program is helping to restore endangered woodlands near Camperdown four years after the area was devastated by the St Patrick's Day fires.
More than 40,000 hectares of Lake Cobrico were badly damaged in the 2018 fires, sparking fears the lake's ecosystem would never regenerate.
But a pilot program involving drones is aiming to give nature a helping hand.
About 32 kilograms of native seeds were released by drones over 40 hectares of the lake bed. The twelve types of seeds were distributed up to five metres above the ground in order to avoid disturbing the fragile terrain.
The seed distribution was conducted by agricultural drone company XAG in partnership with the Heytesbury District Landcare Network.
Landtech Consulting ecologist Peter Austin will present his findings on the program at the Cobden Civic Hall on May 4 at 7pm, but so far the signs are positive.
Ecologists have already assessed the initiative's impact on revegetation by comparing images taken from drone flights in 2020 and 2022 and found more vegetation in the areas that were re-seeded by the drone.
Mr Austin said the results were positive and held important implications for future climate adaption management.
"At Lake Cobrico drone-seeding has enhanced this increase in land cover," Mr Austin said.
"This experience suggests drones could be used in other areas failing to naturally regenerate in the future. It demonstrates that drones can undertake important work in fire affected peat swamps in a safe and non-intrusive way, limiting exposure to risk for staff and contractors.
"This information will be important in climate adaption management."
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Mr Austin said it was important every effort was made to restore the wildlife reserve near Lake Cobrico, which included isolated patches of endangered scoria cone woodland.
"The area has a lack of corridors that allow key species to disperse and maintain genetic diversity, but the successful drone reseeding will assist," he said.
"Drones have been used for many years to sow seed in broadacre agriculture-based contexts, however they are rarely for seeding natural areas and it is understood this is the first time in Australia in a fire recovery program.
"Access to Lake Cobrico was difficult for many reasons, so it was good to try drones with intelligent spreading systems."
Those wanting to attend the Cobden information session should call 55983755 to reserve a place.
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