How your web searches can help reforest the world, with Pieter Van Midwoud, lead tree planting officer at Ecosia: 139

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Continuing with this series on reforestation and agroforestry, I got the chance to speak with Pieter Van Midwoud, the lead tree planting officer of the search engine company Ecosia. I’ve been using Ecosia as my default search engine for a couple years now because of their claim to plant trees around the world with the profits from ad revenue every time you search, but I wanted to know more about how their tree planting initiatives actually work.

In this interview Pieter and I start by talking about how Ecosia as a company functions and how the simple act of searching the web with their service can support reforestation initiatives around the world. We then go into detail about how funding is distributed and how Pieter and his team vet different partner organizations that they support. He also unpacks some of the difficult and often unknown risks behind poorly planned and executed tree planting projects, the difference between tree plantations and healthy forests, the importance of promoting biodiversity, the social aspects that determine the success of new forests and much more. We even get into the indirect ways of supporting native reforestation without ever planting a tree by protecting damaged landscapes and creating the conditions for forests to reseed themselves on their own. I was really impressed with the holistic and context based approach to ecological regeneration that Ecosia has. After researching many different reforestation initiatives for this series I found very few organizations that address the needs of local communities and biodiversity over arbitrary numbers and targets for success, especially following up on the success or failure of a project and publishing the results transparently. I’ve included a few extra links in the show notes for this episode that examine and analyze Ecosia’s model and the accountability of their projects.


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