In October, a group of students started a movement called UEA on Ecosia; a campaign to get UEA to switch the default search engine across campus systems to Ecosia – the search engine that plants trees. The UEA movement has been steadily making progress since October.
Since it was founded in 2009, Ecosia has used its profits from searches to plant over 84 million trees! Trees are planted in deforested areas, where they are needed most by both biodiversity and local communities alike. Ecosia only funds projects that actively employ and engage local communities, ensuring they benefit directly from tree planting initiatives. These trees improve soil quality, provide shade and reduce soil erosion, helping support local livelihoods. Ecosia only plants native trees providing habitats and are best suited to support biodiversity in some of the most threatened and biodiverse ecosystems in the world. These trees are crucial in efforts to mitigate climate change through the sequestration of carbon: a role that will become ever more important as time left to act decreases.
In April 2019, The University of East Anglia declared a climate and biodiversity emergency: https://www.concrete-online.co.uk/uea-declares-climate-biodiversity-emergency. UEA Ecosia believes this would provide the university with the opportunity to make a huge difference, and they’d only have to make a small change. Thousands of searches are made every day on campus by students and staff. On average, one in 45 searches with Ecosia will plant a tree; as a campus, our searches could plant thousands of trees every month.
Many universities have already made the switch such as Leeds, Sussex and Swansea, among others. The University of Sunderland switched to Ecosia in September and within two months financed the planting of over 6000 trees!
Each tree planted sequesters around 50kg of CO2 from the atmosphere during its lifetime. By switching to Ecosia, searches on UEA campus would sequester hundreds of tonnes of CO2 each year, helping mitigate climate change. Meanwhile, trees planted by UEA searches would provide crucial habitats in some of the most threatened areas in the world.
It might sound too good to be true, but Ecosia are actually a fully transparent company, publishing their financial and tree planting reports at the end of each month. These reports show Ecosia’s monthly revenue and exactly where trees have been planted. Ecosia are conservative with their tree counts, factoring in tree mortality rates so that they can be certain that the reported number of trees planted is accurate.
Ecosia have strict expectations of tree planting projects, to ensure that trees are counted in an accurate and professional manner.
With all this said, UEA can be confident that a switch to Ecosia would enact meaningful change. As a group, the UEA movement has been working to get UEA to make this change.
In November, the SU voted to support UEA on Ecosia in lobbying the University to make the switch with an overwhelming majority. Since, the SU have helped them get in contact with UEA’s IT department who are keen on implementing the idea and will be working more with them in the future.
As a group, UEA Ecosia has their own link and collective tree counter. Despite just starting, it has already resulted in 39 trees being planted. With increasing help and support from students, UEA could be persuaded to make this switch and plant thousands of trees. If you want to contribute, you can download Ecosia through this link: www.ecosia.com/UEA