Plant Trees as You Search: The Search Engine with a Difference

Rozie Apps
Wednesday, 20th April 2016

Searching online via 'Ecosia' helps plant trees in Burkina Faso, a part of the Great Green Wall project. It's easy to use with multiple benefits, from climate change mitigation to creating more food for local people. This is a story the world needs to hear!

Virtually everyone who uses the internet has used Google. It is the easiest way to search for what you want/need on the internet.

But what if you could search online with the added benefit of regenerating landscapes and creating food and income for communities?

Well you can. Ecosia, an alternative to Google, uses its search ad revenue to plant trees in Burkina Faso in Africa, bringing water, plants and animals back to drought-ridden areas. Every time you use them to search online, you help plant a tree in Burkina Faso.

To date, Ecosia, along with WeForest, have planted 4 million trees in Burkina Faso, adding to the Great Green Wall project across Africa, which has brought herbs, food and greenery back to communities.

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The Great Green Wall project proposes to 'green' Africa from west to east, to battle desertification. The planting of trees reduces soil degradation in the Sahel-Saharan region, which in turn allows grasses, herbs and food to grow. Local communities can forage the herbs for building materials to sell at markets, the increase in grass means that livestock have more to eat, and are therefore fatter, and provide more money at market. 

The project focuses on a strip of land that is 9 miles (15km) wide, and 4,400 miles (7,100km) long, from Dakar to Djibouti. Ecosia are working with communities in the Sahal region.

The tree planting project has:

– returned the water cycle to the area, bringing more rain

– created biodiversity through an increase in native plants and animals

– helped to gain fodder for the community's animals

– enabled carbon sequestration which mitigates climate change

– has revived the local economy

– empowered women through earning opportunities

– helped send more children to school

The biggest impact has been to the women. They now sell a range of products at market, such as milk, seeds, food, soap, and woven mats and brooms from the foraged herbs and grasses.

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The population in Sahelian Africa are amongst the poorest, and most vulnerable to land degradation and climatic variability. They depend on the land for agriculture, fisheries and livestock management, all of which are greatly affected by rain. Climate variability, frequent droughts and poorly managed land and water resources have caused rivers and lakes to dry up, contributing to land erosion and lack of vegetation.

The Great Green Wall and the tree planting of Ecosia and similar projects, can mitigate these issues, bringing back greenery, and with it, food and water, and a local economy.

To see reactions from villagers who have benefitted from Ecosia's work, see the video below.

To find out more about Ecosia, and to use it as your search engine, visit: www.ecosia.org

Further resources

Watch: Regenerative agriculture: beyond sustainability

Watch: How to plant a fruit tree really well

Permablitzing North Laikipia, Kenya

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