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Searching the web for Sustainability

Picture the scene. You’re at your desk, you’re working on a report, you take the odd sip of coffee, and you’ve hit google search more times than you can keep count of in the last hour alone. Recent research by InternetLiveStats indicates that those internet searches equate to 3.5 billion searches a day – that’s 40,000 every second! It’s 2018, and we use internet search engines as our main source of information, for work enquiries, academic research, shopping, and all other weird and wonderful videos and articles the internet provides us with. Now, wouldn’t it be nice if those billions of searches benefitted the whole planet? Well, now they can. I want to introduce you, and your office, to Ecosia – the internet search engine that uses its ad revenue to plant trees all around the planet. How does it work? It’s simple. When you conduct a search, the search ads generate income for Ecosia, and Ecosia uses this income to plant trees, with over  23 million trees already planted! Tree planting projects are underway across the globe, from Nicaragua to Indonesia, and are vital to ensuring global sustainability in the face of rapid urbanisation and economic expansion. In farming communities of Ethiopia, the restoration of degraded communal land through planting trees, has been fundamental in restoring the ecosystem, reducing overgrazing, and expanding crop planting of vegetables and honey harvesting for sale, supporting the local economy in a sustainable approach. In Uganda, tree planting aids the development of forest corridors in which chimpanzees can move from one forest patch to another, enabling their access to food sources. In this case, tree planting provides education to younger members of the local community in regard to the importance of sustainable forests for the community and for the benefits of vulnerable species. In Morocco, where intensive grazing has depleted the soil of its nutrients, causing increased temperatures and a lack of viable agricultural land, self-sufficient solar-powered nurseries of 1.3million fruit and nut trees have been established to address the fundamental local issues of nutrient-scarce soil. You can read more about these projects and others here. Plus, the benefits of these schemes extend far beyond the immediate locality of their communities, but they benefit us all! We all know increased carbon dioxide is recognised as a main driver of climate change, and it is trees that absorb this gas, but not many of us consider the wider benefits of extensive tree planting. Maintaining large forests, for instance, can generate cloud coverage which reflects sunlight and aids the cooling of the planet. These forests are also home to some of the most diverse ecosystems, with a significant amount still undiscovered. Trees also protect soil from erosion and sustain fertile land, preventing desert conditions in areas of high vegetation, by regulating the water-cycle and acting as a water-storage system to prevent flooding and droughts. Most of us do not get a chance to actively contribute to tree planting schemes across the globe, in places like Spain, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. But, now we can all contribute by doing what we already do! We just need to do it at Ecosia. You can make Ecosia your homepage, or download the app to search.  Every 45 searches provide enough revenue to plant 1 tree, and with over 40,000 internet searches conducted every single second, we can all contribute to a greener world. When focussing on the development of the built environment at our doorstep, we can lose site of the bigger picture, and the impact of increased urbanisation on the planet. Switching our search engine is a simple and easy way to do our part in helping global sustainability, so why not start now? Kimberley Airey Student of Environment & Planning at University of Liverpool North West Committee Member of Women in Planning LinkedIn: Kimberley Airey

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