A search engine that uses its advertising revenue to fund the planting of millions of trees has seen a 1,000% surge in users during the Amazon rainforest fires.
Ecosia said they had ‘mixed feelings’ about their growing popularity as ordinary people look at how they can help the stricken areas of Brazil.
Scientists have recorded nearly 80,000 forest fires in the Latin American country since the start of the year.
Global leaders have called the deliberate burning an ‘international crisis’ but Brazil’s far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro has rejected offers of help.
As fears grow, internet users are increasingly rushing to use Ecosia as an alternative to the search engine Google.
To date, the organisation has planted over 65 million trees worldwide and today they revealed to Metro.co.uk they will plant three million more in fire-ravaged Brazil.
Chief executive Christian Kroll told Metro.co.uk said: ‘Our objective is to reforest the planet and counter a lot of the environmental destruction we see.
‘We are deeply saddened by what is happening in Brazil and so many people are now asking what they can do to help the rainforest.
‘Because of that, we have had a huge influx of users in the last week. That is great for us and great for the planet because it needs many many more trees.
‘But the reasons why we are getting this attention is sad, so there are mixed feelings.’
Ecosia, a non-profit organisation, operates like its rival Google, although it has partnered with Microsoft for its search algorithms.
Its search app can be downloaded or a browser extension installed that makes it the default search engine.
Ecosia said that, unlike Google, all searches are anonymous and the history is deleted after four days.
Mr Kroll said that before the rainforest fires, the search engine – which is powered by solar energy – saw about 20,000 installations per day.
That has now soared to over 200,000 in the last week.
It was recently the top ranked iOS app in Brazil and the firm are lobbying the German government to change their default setting from Google to Ecosia.
Berlin-based Ecosia donates most of its revenue to reforestation projects and a tree is planted every 0.8 seconds.
The organisation works in conjunction with local conservation groups, who pay workers a fair wage to plant and maintain indigenous forests on community land.
Mr Kroll said that one of Ecosia’s 20 worldwide projects was the Atlantic Forest on Brazil’s east coast, around 2,500 miles from the Amazon.
In the past three years, they have planted 2.2 million trees there and will now add three million more to link up existing forests.
A recent report by Swiss scientists said a trillion trees needed to be planted in order to combat climate change.
Mr Kroll said this would be possible over the next few decades ‘for less than 1% of the global military budget’.
He added: ‘It is not much money but somehow it just isn’t happening.’
The six nations with the most room for new trees are Russia, the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil and China.
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