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Scaling mangrove restoration in the Indus Delta using drones together with Delta Blue Carbon

In December 2022, we spent two weeks at the mouth of the mighty Indus river near Keti Bundar, 4 hours from the bustling city of Karachi, to plant mangroves using our drone planting system.

The Indus river carries water from snow the Himelayas through a vast range of beautiful landscapes before emptying out into the Arabian Sea. Witness to many empires throughout history, from the enigmatic Indus Valley Civilisation to the Persians and Alexander the great, today it is a key part of life for millions of people. This growing human pressure on the river has had far reaching effects on the wildlife and forests along the river, particularly on the mangroves at the river's mouth in the Indus delta. The work of Delta Blue Carbon, the world’s largest mangrove restoration project by area, has been addressing this for over 8 years with mangrove planting projects at a monumental scale.

With over 350,000 ha of mangroves to restore in this project alone, there is a pressing need for faster methods of restoration. DBC employs thousands of locals in its planting efforts, but with traditional methods there are just not enough people to fully address the scale of the project. Inverto Earth is providing innovative solutions to augment these efforts, allowing impacts to be seen in much shorter timescales.

With the extremely capable support of the DBC team and the Sindh Forestry Department, we provided a drone based mangrove planting system that planted avicennia marina propagules at the specified density over several dozens hectares of the Indus Delta. The system allowed the team to plant areas of up to 17ha in a single day of flights, a planting speed that allowed the team to quickly cover areas where the site access is limited to only a few hours a day due to the tides. Using multiple drones operated by local teams, areas of 10,000ha a year or more can be planted.

Further work will be done in the coming months to monitor the growth of the planted sites. The planted sites will also be assessed for the biodiversity impacts of the project, with some automated methods for biodiversity metric collection under development by us. We will therefore be back in Pakistan in the coming weeks and continue the partnership with DBC towards scalable mangrove restoration.

We’d like to express our gratitude and thanks to the fantastic team from Delta Blue Carbon. Their know-how, support, hospitality and friendliness is outstanding!


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