ONLINE EXCLUSIVE – Ecosia: is this the way to end deforestation?

For obvious reasons, the issues surrounding deforestation will not vanish overnight. With Ecosia, though, the problem could shrink faster than the forests have. Ecosia is the search engine that claims to plant trees through searches. Their aim is to end deforestation; ad revenue goes towards the planting of new trees.

Ecosia claims to be able to plant a tree roughly every 11 to 16 seconds, and if their number of consumers rises then this number of tress could be potentially much higher. From only a small team based in Germany, it’s an impressive feat, as they aim for at least 80% of their profits to go towards the ongoing aim of planting trees. However, these trees are only focused in 3 areas; it does not include reforestation of multiple areas at once. These 3 areas are Burkina Faso, Peru and Madagascar. Ultimately, this search engine relies on clicks onto the ads, but even if you are implementing an ad blocker or don’t click on ads, it increases Ecosia’s userbase in order to persuade more advertisers to sponsor the site.

One of the company’s main focuses is on sustainability; they suggest they want to be able to coexist with the earth for a long time to come. Another aim is how they want to inspire global change, which they do through running additional projects alongside their reforestation pledge. These include being able to help other reforestation programmes by implementing their funding accurately.

Currently the tree count, in total, is at 6.1 million but with the addition of a school, college or university, this can add upwards of 300,000 trees a year. This is a modest assumption as this estimate is only considers each student would search three times a day, when in reality this number is much higher.

How much of a difference can it really make though? Deforestation is such a huge issue spanning the globe and Ecosia is only adding to 3 countries.  If the company continues growing at this rapid rate, then they should be able to affect more countries and mitigate deforestation on a much larger scale, but at the moment, without more users, it seems a futile effort.

Ecosia has multiple reasons why planting trees provides more of an impact than any other form of project. They allow communities to begin replanting, what was previously, desert and provide a livelihood to farmers affected by climate change. This contribution to restarting water cycles means that the countries become more economically stable. Anything that provides a potential to mitigate climate change and deforestation should be endorsed fully, so even if it means the difficult task of switching to a different search engine, it could lead to more trees being planted.

If only 1% of the internet users globally used Ecosia, dubbed the greenest search engine, it would allow an area the size of Switzerland (about 41,000 ) to be planted. However, the amount of deforestation well outweighs this at roughly 74,000 making the goal of Ecosia ineffective unless more users embrace it. Arguably, the reforestation efforts should be celebrated as this could potentially counteract half of the deforestation every year, but Ecosia will need a much bigger customer base to achieve this. Until this happens, Ecosia will not be able to make a noticeable impact on deforestation.


Kira Knowles


(Image courtesy of Bowman!)

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