Moving Boundaries

Can you grow Trees with Bits and Bytes?

A green search engine that reforests the world wide web as well as woodlands all over the globe? It sounds almost too simple: an average of 45 three search queries is all it takes for Ecosia to plant a tree. Christian Kroll, founder of the company, explained the system to us.

A search engine that plants trees – how does that work, exactly?

Just like most search engines, Ecosia generates revenue from advertisements. After covering our running costs, i.e. salaries, office facilities, marketing, we are left with a surplus. That’s what we use to plant trees. In concrete terms, this means that we currently support 22 tree-planting projects worldwide and have planted more than 60 million trees already.

Why does Ecosia plant trees, specifically?

Trees are absolute miracles! We all know that they clear the air of CO2, which is harmful to the climate. But they can do so much more: refertilise the soil, for instance, and support the water cycle.

We want to solve problems with our trees: dried-up wells, for example

Christian Kroll, founder of Ecosia

How do you ensure transparency for your users?

We publish annual financial reports that list our income, expenses and the projects we support. On our blog and Facebook page, we share stories, images and videos of the project sites to keep our followers updated on the progress of the planting project and any news. I have also decided to gift company shares to the Purpose Foundation. This has given them veto rights, making it impossible for us to withdraw profits from Ecosia or sell the company. We are legally bound to our promise.

How can you guarantee the long-term feasibility and success of the reforestation projects?

Besides site visits, we use satellite images and detailed progress reports issued by our project partner, which allow us to monitor compliance with the contractual terms from afar. Apart from these bureaucratic aspects, we also insist that our tree-planting projects sustainably benefit the local residents. We want to solve problems with our trees: dried-up wells, for example. Our method has proven effective over the years: Ecosia’s trees are still standing.

You have been doing this work since 2009. Which of your projects affected you the most in the past decade? And why?

I am especially impressed with the project in Burkina Faso. It clearly shows the miracles trees can achieve: arid deserts become green again, the soil becomes fertile. It was one of our very first projects, too.

About ... Christian Kroll

After graduating from high school, Christian Kroll studied business administration in Nürnberg. On a trip around the world he became aware of the immense importance of trees for the survival of our planet. That's why he founded Ecosia in 2009 - a tree planting search engine based in Berlin. Ecosia has over 40 employees and, thanks to the many millions of users, plants a tree every second.


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