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Posted on 2017-11-21

Festive Greetings – The Sustainable Way

The holiday season should not be a time when our planet is put under even more pressure. But unfortunately, our festivities do sometimes put a strain on the environment. According to the Green Card Association, 7 billion greetings cards are purchased and sent each year – in the United States alone. Each of these greetings cards adds ecological strain on our world.

Traditional greetings cards are not generally made with regard for sustainable forestry. The paper they use, dyes and inks, and the paper for envelopes and stamps, is rarely taken from truly sustainable sources. Often, things like glitter worsen our problems with plastic pollution. The glue on envelopes and stamps, and the carbon cost of mailing items should also be taken into account. It all adds up to rather a hefty carbon footprint and environmental toll – all for something that is only kept, on average, for one month.

Fortunately, EcoMatcher can offer a better solution.

Instead of sending a paper card, with paper envelope and stamp, EcoMatcher offers companies the opportunity to send affordable e-cards to their customers and employees. Each personalized e-greeting card is linked to a newly planted tree the recipient automatically adopts. You can track the newly planted tree with CauseTracker, a satellite linked mapping web application. Through this app you can find out the precise location of the tree, and even information about the farmer who planted it. By working with vetted tree-planting foundations in the Philippines, Indonesia, Uganda and Guatemala, EcoMatcher makes sure that trees are planted where they are needed most.

The price you will pay for your e-greeting card and the planting of a tree is well within the average cost of a paper card, envelope and stamp. So, rather than contributing to the 7 billion trees plus that are cut down each year for our festive greetings, consider sending a positive message and choosing a greener way.

Please contact EcoMatcher to find out about the possibilities and send a green e-card this holiday season.

#EcoMatcher #Sustainability #TreePlanting #SDGs

 

Posted on 2017-08-23

EcoMatcher got Central Americas covered with AIR Guatemala

EcoMatcher is proud to announce a partnership with AIR Guatemala, EcoMatcher’s first venture in the Americas. With AIR, EcoMatcher is now able to offer tree-planting opportunities in all major time zones (Asia, Europe/Africa, and the Americas). For every tree planted through EcoMatcher, you will know its precise location and the farmer who is taking care of it.

The mission of the Alliance for International Reforestation Guatemala (AIR), is to implement educational programs and agroforestry methods in Guatemala in order to protect water sources, prevent mudslides, reduce erosion and provide more nutritious crops while protecting the Earth. AIR also provides brick stoves with chimneys preventing lung diseases.

Founded by Anne Hallum, AIR helps people in Guatemala by establishing a better, more sustainable quality of life through tree-planting. AIR technicians, who are Guatemalan professionals, educate indigenous farmers about proper tree-planting and agroforestry that will provide sustainable farming as well as protection from frequent and dangerous mudslides. The native trees planted by local volunteers and farmers help preserve important forests, which have a tremendous impact on the villages. To date, AIR has planted over 5 million trees and has helped over 3000 families.

AIR is pleased to team up with EcoMatcher, a great innovative platform initiative to rally companies, customers, and employees around tree-planting”, said Anne Hallum.

Among numerous awards, in 2011 AIR won the CNN Heroes award, a program created by CNN to honor individuals who make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid and make a difference in their communities.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) announced on the 29th of June 2017 the winners of the Equator Prize 2017, recognizing AIR and 14 other local and indigenous communities from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The winning organizations, which showcase innovative solutions for tackling poverty, environment, and climate challenges, will be honored at a celebratory gala in New York on 17 September 2017.

ABOUT ECOMATCHER

EcoMatcher offers vetted sustainability causes such as tree planting foundations, CauseTracker and other digital tools enabling companies to use those causes (e.g. trees) in smart ways to engage with their customers and employees and do good at the same time.

#EcoMatcher #Sustainability #TreePlanting #SDGs

 

 

Posted on 2017-07-21

Sustainable Development Goals

 

We don’t have a plan B because there is no planet B

Ban Ki Moon, former UN Secretary General.

 

The 193 member states of the United Nations, spearheaded by Ban Ki Moon, have established 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals cover a broad range of sustainable development issues. Among the issues to be tackled are putting an end to poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests.

EcoMatcher is committed to helping its partners to meet these goals. The initial focus for those planting trees with Ecomatcher is on the following SDGs: goal 10 (inequality), goal 13 (climate change), goal 15 (life on land) and goal 17 (partnerships). This article describes the goals more in detail, what we do and how you can help.

 

GOAL 10: INEQUALITY

Significant progress has been made lifting people out of poverty. The least developed countries continue to make inroads into poverty reduction. It must be said, however, that inequality still persists, especially in regard to access to health and education services and other assets. There is growing consensus that economic growth is not sufficient to reduce poverty if it is not inclusive and if it does not involve the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental.

Tree planting in countries like Indonesia, Philippines, and Uganda not only helps the environment, it also supports local farmers to improve their style of living. The trees can help to improve the soil quality, increase shade and provide biomass, all of which can help in growing food crops in the future. Improving land through tree planting can re-enfranchise local people and give them some autonomy.

 

GOAL 13: CLIMATE ACTION

Climate change is challenging many communities. Those on the front lines of the changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, and more extreme weather events are already often beginning to struggle. The greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are driving climate change and continue to rise.

Climate change is a global challenge that does not respect national borders. Emissions anywhere affect people everywhere and carbon sequestration somewhere affects climate change anywhere. All too often it is those who have least, who are less able to adapt, who suffer the most.

Trees are the lungs of the world absorbing carbon dioxide and breathing oxygen. Studies suggest that trees planted in the tropics are most effective in cooling our planet, since the trees not only sequester carbon when planted near the equator but also store water and, when that water evaporates, create cloudiness above them which reflects more solar radiation back into space. Planting trees in the tropics, then, is the best way to combat our global problem.

 

Goal 15: LIFE ON LAND

Forests are key to combating climate change, protecting biodiversity and the homes of the indigenous population. Thirteen million hectares of forests are lost every year while the persistent degradation of drylands has led to the desertification of 3.6 billion hectares.

Deforestation and desertification – caused by human activities and climate change – pose major challenges to sustainable development and have affected the lives and livelihoods of millions of people as well as degrading important ecosystems.

It should go without saying that tree planting is a key activity in tackling deforestation and desertification.

 

Goal 17: PARTNERSHIPS 

No man is an island. A successful sustainable development agenda requires partnerships between governments, the private sector, and civil society. Urgent action is needed to mobilize, redirect and unlock the transformative power of trillions of dollars of private resources to deliver on sustainable development objectives.

EcoMatcher has designed a concept that can scale. Of course, we can not do things in splendid isolation and look actively for partnerships. We reach out to companies, other e-commerce platforms, airlines, hotels and impact investors and work in concert with them to do good to work towards our common goals and become part of a global solution rather than a global problem… trying to have a little bit of fun along the way.

#EcoMatcher #Sustainability #TreePlanting #SDGs

Posted on 2017-07-18

Introducing Tree Adoption Uganda (TAU)

By Dr Charles Batte, Founder and CEO of TAU. 

Tree Adoption Uganda (TAU) is a youth-centric NGO powered by the vision of creating communities where people and nature flourish. Through landscape restoration activities like planting trees and agroforestry, we build resilience for small holder farmers against the changing climate while economically empowering unemployed young people in Uganda’s rural communities. TAU achieves that through education and training on setting up and managing indigenous tree nurseries and tree farms. We bring tree planting to each individual family all over the country, focusing on inspiring a nature-inclined transformation and change of heart in each member of a household. This way we arouse passion among community members to work towards sustainable agricultural practices, conservation, and restoration of under green areas.

Our recent partnership with EcoMatcher will allow us to scale our reach and impact more communities by increasing the number of trees we plant annually, the amount of carbon we offset which will contribute to environmental modification to support sustainable agriculture and benefit more households. In June this partnership saw us plant the first 1,000 trees in a number of villages in the Mpigi district benefitting 72 families of small holder farmers. The Mpigi district is one-hour drive west of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Species planted:

  • Included Caliandra trees, mainly planted around gardens to prevent animals from destroying crops of the families;
  • Neem trees which scent repels mosquitoes and its medicinal leaves are used commonly for curing Malaria;
  • Guava and Pawpaw’s trees providing nutritious fruits.

 

 

Uganda has recently seen devastating effects of climate change. The seasons have become unpredictable and long periods of drought have led to a reduction in crop yields and crop failure. Earlier this year the government confirmed that over 7 million people were on the brink of starvation as a result of the famine. Agroforestry is our way of combating the climatic impact on agriculture. We are transforming the now bare landscapes through training and educating smallholder farmers on sustainable landscape management approaches. We encourage the farmers to intercrop their food crops with carefully chosen tree species that will modify the landscape to support agriculture but also have other social and economic benefits that can improve the livelihoods of the participating families and take them out of poverty.

Adopt trees today. You can make a difference. Please note that for every tree planted, EcoMatcher provides the GPS coordinates of the tree and the name of the smallholder farmer taking care of the tree, so that one day you visit Uganda, you can visit your adopted tree and the family whose life is changing too.

#EcoMatcher #Sustainability #TreePlanting #SDGs

Posted on 2017-06-20

Does Planting Trees Match the Requirements of Additionality or Not?

We recently receive questions about the additionality of planting trees in general and through EcoMatcher specifically. One reason for this seems to be the publication of results of a research by the European Union on the additionality of carbon offset programs. This research, concluded that 85% of projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) either fail to reduce CO2 emissions in a measurable way or they over-estimate their impact.

Additionality is a key concept in determining whether projects have an impact or not. co2offsetresearch.org describes the concept of additionality in the context of carbon reduction quite well: “Would the emissions reductions have occurred, holding all else constant, if the activity were not implemented as an offset project? Or more simply: Would the project have happened anyway? If the answer to that is yes, the project is not additional.”

The EU research shows that many projects under CDM, would have happened without “CO2 compensation” based funding, in which case they cannot claim to be additional.

An example of this is a windmill project in a village in rural India. On the outset, it appears great: by investing money in the windmill, a village gets access to carbon neutral electricity. It turns out however that these windmills could be built using funding from the local community only. External funding is not required to realize the project. On top of this, this project does not have any carbon compensation effect, because the village previously had no reliable electricity source to begin with. As a result, the windmill does not reduce any carbon emissions, because there previously were none.

Because of the results of this research, the EU is expected to change requirements for projects that are used to offset CO2 emissions after 2020.

Are trees planted through EcoMatcher additional?

When planting trees, you are actually not reducing emissions of CO2 but increasing sequestration of CO2, resulting in a similar net effect. Almost the same definition holds: Would the CO2 sequestration have occurred, holding all else constant, if the activity were not implemented as an offset project?

Simplifying it a bit, the question becomes whether the tree planting organizations would have planted trees without external funding. That question is easily answered: The tree planting organizations that EcoMatcher works with, are all dependent on external funding and without it they are not able to continue (to help) plant trees.

While by that definition trees planted through EcoMatcher could be considered additional by itself, in practice it is a bit more complicated. Especially in cases where the tree planting organization helps farmers plant the trees instead of planting them themselves, you could question whether these farmers would try to plant trees without the help of the NGO. And if they would, would they be successful and would the trees sequester the same amounts of CO2? The tree planting organizations EcoMatcher works with are rather critical about their own carbon reduction results. For example, some have strict protocols to calculate the actual average contribution of individual trees. Also, each tree needs to be newly planted in a unique location. This means trees that are planted to replace cut down trees, are not considered contributing to CO2 reduction.

Often the additionality question only includes the carbon offset element of a project. However, in practice there is much more involved than just planting trees. If you include the educational and social aspects that the NGOs address, the additionality question of their projects is definitively answered with a “Yes”.

EcoMatcher’s platform makes it easier for businesses to identify genuine and successful projects that make a difference by planting trees, by offering a selection of carefully vetted sustainable causes in which they can invest. A genuine additionality cause, I’d say.

#EcoMatcher #Sustainability #TreePlanting #SDGs