An indisputable fact: wildfires are getting worse
Scenes this year have been apocalyptic: holidaymakers in Rhodes cowered under dark skies as fires blazed on the Greek island, smoke from Nova Scotia’s largest ever wildfires drifted through North America and over to Europe, and Tenerife suffered its worst wildfire in 40 years.
These worsening wildfires are really hitting “home” for Ecosia, as so many of our projects are directly impacted or at risk. That’s why we’re investing €800,000 into wildfire action this year. This money helps to prevent fires, support firefighting, and restore and protect wildfire damaged areas. It will fund the re-planting and restoration of an estimated 1 million trees — while also protecting millions more from future destruction.
Why are wildfires getting worse?
There are multiple reasons behind the worsening fires, but chief among them is our warming climate. As it gets hotter and drier, forests are becoming tinderboxes. Another reason is forest management — or, rather, mismanagement. Practices like planting monocultures mean the health of many forests is deteriorating rapidly. A healthy, diverse forest is more resilient and resistant to burning.
While there is a limit to the actions we can take once monocultures and fire-prone forests start to burn, what we can do is ensure our forests are regenerated properly. This requires multifaceted action from all sides — from tree-planting organizations, through to businesses and governments.
What is Ecosia doing about wildfires?
We have been combating wildfires through our tree-planting projects for years, but this commitment signals a renewed focus. Tree planting is only effective as a climate crisis solution if it is holistic and in tandem with preventing tree loss from out-of-control wildfires. By making this commitment – one of our largest ever single investments – we acknowledge how critical it is to regenerate forests holistically.
Our wildfire work revolves around these pillars:
Prevent: We take a holistic and long-term view of our tree-planting projects. Together with our partners we take preventative measures such as thinning forests, clearing dried grass, planting native and fire resilient species, and carrying out regular, best-in-class monitoring. We also use satellite technology to detect fires occurring on Ecosia sites.
Extinguish: At some of our tree-planting projects where wildfires are increasing in severity, we are actively supporting firefighting efforts. In Brazil for example, we have a 10-year contract with ITPA to support their work protecting trees from out-of-control wildfires.
Restore & Protect: We restore and protect areas damaged by wildfires. To date we have planted over 5.6 million trees and saved a further 4 million in Brazil, the US and Australia.
Where this €800,000 commitment is going
Wildfires are impacting our projects all across the globe. Here’s just a few examples of where we’re investing in wildfire action:
With ReForest Now in Australia, we’re restoring rainforests destroyed by the 2020 wildfires, which struggle to regenerate naturally. They won’t just provide a habitat for wildlife, but are also sequestering some of the carbon released by the bushfires, cleaning the air, attracting rainfall, and lowering temperatures.
In Brazil, we’ve already planted and protected three million trees with our partner ITPA. Thanks to this year’s investment, we can further support their firefighting team. Our partner estimates that this will help them save an additional 750,000 trees in the Atlantic Forest, an irreplaceable biodiversity hotspot.
We also work with local firefighters from SDIS 13 in the South of France to plant native species, most of which are fire-resilient – like holm oak, olive trees and arbutus. The firefighters also organize educational events for the local community.
With Tree Aid in Ghana, we are working with the local community to clear dried grass, a major wildfire risk, and turn them into coal briquettes that can be used as a cleaner, more efficient fuel source — thereby protecting trees from deforestation.
Our Indonesian partner, the Gunung Saran Lestari Foundation, supports farmers who use burned secondary forest sites for rice cultivation. These farmers are replanting their land using productive, diverse and native species.
And with the American Forest Foundation in northern California, we’ve planted 2,500 native trees, such as Ponderosa Pine and Douglas-fir, together with private landowners to restore fire-damaged land and soil. The American Forest Foundation also thins existing forests to prevent future fires from spreading. Every fire needs a spark (lightning, arson, etc.) and fuel (wood or dry grass). Thinning a forest by removing excess vegetation reduces the likelihood of flames moving from one tree to the next.
All of this we can only do thanks to people like you! Thank you for searching with Ecosia — together, we can combat wildfires across the globe.