Airforestry reinventing the forest industry through electric aerial drones

Airforestry collects Techarenan Challenge’s Business Award on stage at Kallis in Visby. Photo: Tommy Fondelius.

The forest industry is one of Sweden’s most important sectors, and the country is one of the world’s largest exporters of timber. Swedish startup Airforestry is reinventing the way forests are thinned through electric aerial harvesting drones.

“We know that electric drones are really efficient to transport things in the air,” Airforestry CEO and Co-Founder Olle Gelin said. “We have made a solution that is competitive, sustainable, and also increases the forest vitality and production.”

Airforestry manages and thins out trees in a gentle way, by removing sick and weak trees and allowing bigger trees more room to grow. Gelin says this allows forests to grow and be able to store more carbon, which is vital in the fight against climate change.

Airforestry electric aerial drones used to thin trees from the air in forests.

Right now, the industry mainly uses large, heavy machines that need wide access roads to be cut through the forest, leading to deep tracks in the soil and the removal of significantly more bushes and trees than necessary.

“By harvesting from the air, we don’t need to remove trees in vain,” Gelin said, outlining how Airforestry can pinpoint and remove diseased trees, for example, without harming the forest in any way.

Gelin emphasizes how the forest industry in Sweden always tries to move toward sustainable methods, and he says Airforestry enables fossil-free forest management through battery harvesting drones.

“One of Sweden’s most important business sectors”

The Swedish Forest Industries says the forest industry accounts for about one percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. They say every year at least 380 million trees are planted in Sweden, and the country’s forest resource has doubled over the past 100 years.

“It’s a cornerstone in Swedish society, built on the forest and forest product,” Gelin said.

Airforestry says its vision is to take a big chunk out of the world’s carbon footprint as we contribute to healthy and beautiful forests with more biodiversity.

Airforestry won the “Business Award” during Techarenan Challenge 2022 at Almedalen.

“We see this as a really important award for us to be able to fulfill our goals with the company,” Gelin said. “That someone else can see the potential of making the forest greener and more sustainable, and leverage with our finance and recruitment process.”

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