Ecosia is an Internet search engine based in Berlin, Germany, that plants trees by donating 80% or more of its profits to nonprofit organizations that focus on Reforestation. Ecosia considers itself a social business, is CO2-negative, claims to support full financial transparency, protect the privacy of its users; and is certified by B-Lab as a benefit corporation.
Type of site
|Web search engine|
|Available in||English and 26 others|
|Owner||Christian Kroll via Ecosia GmbH|
|Created by||Christian Kroll|
|Alexa rank||462 (September 2019[update])|
|Launched||7 December 2009|
The website maintains a running total of the number of trees planted. According to their website, as of 9th September 2019, the search engine had been responsible for the planting of more than 68 million trees.
The search engine at launch originally provided a combination of search results from Yahoo! and technologies from Bing and Wikipedia. Ads were delivered by Yahoo! as part of a revenue sharing agreement with Ecosia.
Ecosia shows advertisements next to its search results, and is paid by partners every time a user is directed to an advertiser via a sponsored link. A single search on Ecosia raises approximately half a Euro cent (0.005 EUR) on average, according to Ecosia's FAQ, taking 0.22 euro (€) and 0.8 seconds to plant a tree.
Ecosia uses 80% of its profits (47.1% of its income) from advertising revenue to support tree planting projects, the rest is put into backup reserves for unforeseen circumstances – if these reserves are not used they are channeled back into the company's tree planting fund. The company publishes its monthly financial report on its website. In October 2018, founder Christian Kroll announced that he has given part of his shares over to the Purpose Foundation. As a result, Kroll and Ecosia co-owner Tim Schumacher gave up their right to sell Ecosia or take any profits out of the company.
Ecosia first launched on 7 December 2009 to coincide with UN climate talks in Copenhagen. Over time, Ecosia has supported various tree-planting programs. Until December 2010, Ecosia's funds went to a program by WWF Germany that protected the Juruena National Park in the Amazon basin. To protect this area, the organizers drew up and financed plans with timber companies and the local communities.
From July 2013 to September 2014, Ecosia donated to the Plant a Billion Trees program run by The Nature Conservancy, a program that aimed to restore the Brazilian Atlantic Forest by planting one million native trees by 2015.
According to B-labs, as of January 2015, "In donating 80 percent of its ad revenue, the search engine has raised over $1.5 million for rainforest protection since its founding in December 2009." According to Ecosia, by 2015, the search engine had almost 2.5 million active users and had planted more than 2 million trees.
In May 2015, Ecosia was shortlisted for The Europas, the European Tech Startups Awards, under the category Best European Startup Aimed At Improving Society.
As of April 2016, Ecosia ranks in the top 2 start-up for Germany in the StartupRanking. In July 2017 it had 5.5 million active users and 10 million planted trees. As of October 2018, it has reached 7 million active monthly users, with Alexa ranking Ecosia as the 127th biggest website in Germany.
As of 13 February 2019, Ecosia had funded the planting of over 50 million trees.
Ecosia works with multiple organizations, such as the Eden Reforestation Projects, Hommes et Terre, and various local partners, to plant trees in 16 countries throughout the world. Ecosia says that they focus on planting trees where they are most needed: "biodiversity hotspots" which are areas with large numbers of unique species, and regions with poor communities that cannot handle large scale tree-planting on their own. There are multiple environmental benefits of trees: they absorb carbon dioxide and thus slow global warming; they prevent desertification and keep soil fertile; and they provide safe habitats for forest-dwelling animals. Additionally, Ecosia claims that they support local communities by creating steady income for the planting and care of trees, providing food and income from harvesting the trees, improving agriculture from soil replenished by trees, and finally leading to economic and political stability by lifting locals out of poverty.
Ecosia currently has one or more projects in the following countries: Peru, Nicaragua, Colombia, Haiti, Brazil, Morocco, Spain, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Indonesia.
In October 2018, Ecosia launched a regenerative agriculture competition in cooperation with Richard Perkins.
On 9 October 2018, Ecosia offered €1 million to buy the Hambach Forest from German energy company RWE AG to save it from being cut down for lignite mining. Ecosia previously urged users to switch to renewable energy providers.
On 15 March 2019, Ecosia supported the school strike for climate movement led by Greta Thunberg, by planting a tree for every person who joined the Berlin strike. In May 2019 the company announced that 25,000 trees were now planted in Madagascar. Ecosia's CEO, Christian Kroll has joined the Entrepreneurs for Future group.
Early in 2019, Ecosia had planted more than 50 million trees throughout the world.
Ecosia is available on Google Chrome as a default search engine by downloading the extension from the Chrome web store.
As of 21 July 2017, the web browser Brave has featured Ecosia as a default search option. With the release of version 26 (on 26 January 2016), the Pale Moon web browser added Ecosia as a default, as did version 8 of the Polarity web browser on 15 February 2016. Ecosia is the default search engine of the Waterfox web browser since version 44.0.2. Since version 1.9, Vivaldi has included Ecosia as a default search engine option. In March 2018, Firefox 59.0 added Ecosia as a search engine option for the German version.
As of 21 August 2019, Ecosia announced that it will not participate in the "search-choice" auction to appear on Android devices led by Google. This means that in 2020 European Android phone users will not have the option to set Ecosia as a default search engine. Christian Kroll explained the boycott decision saying: "We're deeply disappointed that Google has decided to exploit its dominant market position in this way. Instead of giving wide and fair access, Google have chosen to give discrimination a different form and make everyone else but themselves pay, which isn't something we can accept." Applications to participate in the "search-choice" auction are due in mid-September.
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