Brazil's seaside city of Rio de Janeiro, famed for its crowded beaches and lush surrounding hills, is sending drones buzzing into the air to disperse seeds, part of a high-tech push that seeks to speed up local reforestation efforts.

The green initiative, a partnership between Rio's city hall and startup Morfo, launched last Friday and is being used to seed local native species in hard-to-reach areas that would be more difficult using traditional methods.

Eligible areas in one of the most-visited cities of the Americas are selected after an analysis of soil and native species. Computers powered by artificial intelligence (AI) then define the specific targets and number of seeds to be dropped, according to a statement from the local government.

A single drone is capable of dispersing 180 seed capsules per minute, or 100 times faster than utilizing human hands to spread seeds in a more traditional reforestation program.

Sowing via drones assisted by AI also eliminates the need for months of nurturing seedlings, as well as transporting them to the area designated for planting, the statement added. (Reporting by Sergio Queiroz; Writing by Peter Frontini; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Sandra Maler)