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Schermafbeelding 2021 04 23 om 12 27 39
Ecology

Our new app is finally there!

Use the brand-new Go Forest app to keep track of the impact ‘your’ tree is having on the other side of the world.

Want to track live how much impact ‘your’ trees are having on the planet? With plenty of sweat and tears (but no blood, don’t worry), Go Forest has come up with an app that gives every single tree we plant its own unique ID. Wherever it is, in whatever part of the world, you will see on your smartphone who planted the tree, how fast it is growing, an estimate of how much CO2 it is extracting from the air and so on. Blockchain creates greater transparency: no one tree can have more than one heroic tree sponsor/treeparent.

Let me start this article with a bold statement: the next few years will be the most important in human history.

‘Isn’t that a bit of an exaggeration, Sarah? Aren’t you being a bit of a drama queen?’

Nope. Unfortunately not. If we want to be climate neutral by 2050 and if we are going to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees, it has to happen now. We need to start making changes en masse. Replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. Electrify our cars. Capture and store carbon.

That’s what we do with Go Forest. We draw CO2 out of the atmosphere by planting trees. We do it in the places where the trees have the greatest impact. That means an impact on climate change, biodiversity, job creation and the local population’s standard of living. Four benefits all at once. Planting trees isn’t rocket science, but after all these centuries, it’s still incredibly effective.

The search for reliability and transparency

Go Forest, a subsidiary of the climate expert CO2logic, is something of an outsider. We’re not the only ones planting trees, thank goodness. There are NGOs doing fantastic work and achieving great results, but they don’t always manage to get their message across to consumers and companies. We have found that many companies do want to contribute to a greener world, but they’re not sure how. We aim to tap into that enormous potential. Go Forest works with businesses. We turn planting trees into part of their DNA. Planet and profit don’t contradict each other: they can work hand in hand.

We want to tear down walls and build bridges. Between businesses and NGOs, between Belgium and the rest of the world, between ‘here’ and ‘there’. We are one planet. CO2 emissions don’t pay the slightest bit of attention to the borders of countries or continents. That is why we mainly plant trees in Peru, Uganda or Armenia, where one tree has more impact than here in Belgium and where we can plant many more trees for the same price. Although that certainly doesn’t rule out the importance of creating new woodland in our own country as well.

This global approach confronted us with an important challenge. How can companies be certain that their trees are really being planted? How can they measure the impact of their trees? How do they calculate their – warning, business jargon! – return on investment for the planet? The people planting our trees in Peru or Uganda are all passionate people who care deeply about the environment they live in. But they are not scientists who can just rattle off the figures for how much CO2 each tree is absorbing.

That is why we went looking for an innovative, transparent and reliable solution for our customers.

Enter blockchain and artificial intelligence.

Up close and personal: a unique ID for your tree

Our tree planters take photos of each tree. The photos go to a database, where AI algorithms convert the images into accurate data. Have you planted trees with Go Forest? Just log into our portal and track how much impact your trees are having in real time.

  • Who planted them?
  • What kind of trees are they?
  • Where are they exactly?
  • How big are the trees now?
  • How much CO2 are they removing from the air?
  • How much fruit do they produce?
  • How much money do they generate for the local community?
  • etc.

That is why each tree gets its own, unique ID. Companies know exactly how much impact their trees are having, even if they are growing far away in South America or Africa. They can immerse their entire network in the wonderful world of Mother Earth by allocating trees to their employees and customers. Everyone gets their ‘own’ personal tree and they can watch it grow online. Imagine you find a QR code on the packaging of a product that takes you straight to your own tree. With just one click.

For many people, global warming is vague and distant. Our new application changes that. Track your impact on the planet the way you check your mails or your bank balance.

Trees are becoming just like people.

The database where we keep the photos of all our trees is encoded in blockchain. It is indelible and very difficult to copy or manipulate. Every tree has a unique ID and unique GPS coordinates. Not one of the trees we plant anywhere in the world is allocated to more than one company or person. Just as no two people on the earth have the same identity, we want to give each of the trees we plant their own, unique digital passport.

We use Stellar blockchain to register and identify the trees. It consumes far less energy than technologies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. For the online portal, we made a conscious choice to use Microsoft Azure. Microsoft became climate neutral across the world this year and plans to be carbon negative by 2030. By then, it aims to remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than it emits.

One hell of a ride towards one million trees

Go Forest has been working with the NGO Camino Verde in Peru to set up the blockchain app for tree-by-tree reporting. We built the application in partnership with Aptus in Kortrijk and BEXT360 in Boston.

There is a time difference of seven hours between here and Peru and six with Boston, our partners on different continents: the past few months have been one hell of a ride. We also had to raise awareness among our tree planters in the field and train them, we had to store the characteristics of 500 different tree species in a database, and we had to develop an algorithm to recognise all those trees and species. There was no blood involved, but there were litres of sweat and tears.

Currently our Madre de Dios project, in the Amazon rainforest in Peru, is already using the application. Uganda will soon be following suit. The idea is to allow any screened NGO to use the app. Reporting may help them to bring in more financing and increase the involvement of all interested parties. That way we can create far greater impact.

Next stop: one million new trees.

More info or in for a demo? Have a look.


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