Last month the online search engine, Ecosia, reached a milestone in their mission of tackling the global effects of deforestation. Ecosia is an online search engine (just like Google) but instead uses 80% of its profits to fund essential tree planting across sixteen countries in South America and Africa. Created in Berlin and founded in 2009 by Christian Kroll, it has since received several awards for its contribution to the planet and last month reached the almighty accomplishment of helping plant 60 million trees. Ecosia now boasts 7 million users worldwide and counting.
The idea is simple. Individuals use the search engine day-to-day. With each search, Ecosia earns money through advertisement revenue. From the money earnt, about 80% of this goes to charities across the world who dedicate themselves to reforestation schemes.
One such charity is the Pacta Mata Atlantica. When the Brazilian rainforest is facing unprecedented deforestation, this charity is committed to replacing as many trees as possible. The Eden Reforestation Project is another. This project brings together Haiti’s governmental and non-governmental organisations to co-ordinate the restoration of their trees which remain affected by the country’s long history of devastating hurricanes.
The commitment to help reforestation goes far beyond simply planting trees. As well as the benefits of slowing global warming and improving crop quality, Ecosia’s funding ensures the supprort of communities and security of vulnerable people. Ecosia has partnered with Kenya’s green belt movement, founded by Nobel prize winning Wangari Maathai. This movement empowers women by encouraging them to organise campaigns against land grabbing, deforestation and corruption. Since 1977, this movement has given local women the responsibility of conserving local biodiversity and ecosystems by promoting the planting of trees.
As well as bolstering local communities, many of Ecosia’s partners are dedicated to the conservation of forest living creatures. One such charity is the Jane Goodall Institute. This institute plants forest corridors in Uganda which are used by chimpanzees to safely cross between forests. In a period where the chimpanzees’ territories are under attack, these corridors are essential. Funding is also given to help sustain the Leuser ecosystem in the Sumatra. As the last forest left in Southeast Asia and the primary home of the Orangutan the replanting of trees which have been illegally logged is paramount.
A recent publication by ecologist Thomas Crowther states that the planting of 1.2 trillion trees in areas that sustain bio-diversity would help reduce global emissions by two-thirds. At a time where the effects of climate change are more obviously felt and yet the action needed appears far too monumental, it is very easy to start to feel helpless and overwhelmed. Ecosia is a simple fear-free way in which individuals can continue their daily life, but in doing so, help the essential replanting of trees worldwide.