When it comes to unmanned aerial vehicles—also known as drone aircraft—most people think of the War on Terror, missiles raining death from above, or Big Brother surveillance from the sky. Drone technology has largely been used as a weapon of war, but in recent years, that image has been changing as companies like Amazon begin preparing for services such as drone delivery.
Another powerful example of the use of drones comes from companies operating in Singapore, Malaysia. Palm oil companies have historically used helicopters to monitor their plantations but are now switching to drone aircraft.
According to Channel News Asia:
“Recently, drones have taken to the skies for these companies to assess the well-being of trees and map out routes for infrastructure, such as new roads.
Palm oil trader Cargill said it is also using drones to monitor fires that occur near its plantations. The fires are often caused by illegal land clearing methods and have been the source of the regional haze problem for decades.
Going forward, Cargill plans to use drones to identify protected forests, commonly known as high carbon stock areas.”
John Hartmann, Chief Executive Officer of Cargill, said his company wants to use the “Palm Oil Manifesto Group” to “combine with ability to use drones, so we can work with others in the industry in identifying high carbon stock areas and helping overall industry to delink deforestation from agriculture.”
The Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto is a document that commits its signatories to avoiding deforestation in High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest areas, creating traceable and transparent supply chains, and protecting peatlands.
Cargill has been training its staff to fly drones since April. Smaller palm oil companies are now following in their footsteps. Using drones to help fight deforestation may play a vital role in reversing the damage done by the palm oil industry.
This latest application of technology in a positive, empowering way highlights the double-edged sword of technology. Will the State and corporate partners be able to use technology to control, distract, and enslave? Or will the open-source, peer-to-peer evolution continue to elevate the people to a new standard of freedom and awareness?