Paris-headquartered MORFO today announced a $4 million fundraise to deliver drones for repopulating forests, following a series of "large-scale" try outs of the drones in Latin America and Africa.
MORFO's drones would hover across tropical and subtropical forests to collect additional data to augment satellite imagery.
The aim is to enhance biodiversity analysis of depopulated forests, enabling precise reforestation where the appropriate plant species is already known, studied and lab tested.
Following the $4 million round, MORFO plans to expand R&D and marketing/operations by taking on 22 new employees, with recruitment due to start next year.
The enlarged workforce should support MORFO's objective of testing 375 forest tree species by 2024-end, while also optimising its drones, payloads and analysis software.
To that end, MORFO also announced three scientific collaborations: with the University of Sao Carlos UFScar, Brazilian agronomy company EMBRAPA, and the French lab trio INRAE, IRD and CIRAD.
In Gabon, MORFO has completed a project to repopulate forest ecosystems damaged by mineral mines. It's now aiming for take off in the Latin American market, with plans to open a branch office there mid-2023.
MORFO claims one of its drones can process up to 50 hectares of forest imagery per day, and can plant 180 seed bolls every minute, even across "steep and difficult-to-access lands."
The $4 million round is co-led by energy transition and ecology-focused investor Demeter and RAISE Ventures. They're joined by AFI Ventures, the seed fund of Alliance for Impact, as well as TeamPact Ventures and several business angels (namely Nicolas Beraud, Caroline Lair, Jean-Gabriel Levon and Graffi Rathamohan.)