Search to save the rainforest

A search engine called Ecosia has been launched this month with the aim of helping to save the Amazon rainforest.

The German founders of Ecosia plan to give away most of the income from the search engine to an environmental protection project run by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF). They claim that every search undertaken by a user will save about two square metres of rainforest. Additionally, the company’s servers will be run by green electricity.

Site founder Christian Kroll, 26, said: ‘Thanks to sponsored links, search engines earn billions every year. Ecosia believes that there is a more eco-friendly way of using these huge profits and that the money should be used to fight global warming.’

Yahoo and Bing are supporting Ecosia by providing search results and supplying it with the sponsored links needed to generate advertising revenue. Like other search engines, Ecosia will generate most of its income from these links, which are text ads placed by companies aiming to sell their products to search engine users.

Companies pay for each click on their sponsored link and every click generates a few pennies of revenue for the search engine. Although a small percentage of clicks are real ad clicks, experts believe that market-leader Google earns about one cent from each web search in the US.

Unlike the big search engines, Ecosia will donate at least 80 per cent of its sponsored-links income to the WWF rainforest protection programme in Brazil’s Amazon region.

Eberhard Brandes, head of WWF Germany, said: ‘The green search engine is a very modern and innovative approach, allowing its users to help save the world’s climate effortlessly.’

The site officially launched on 7 December 2009 – the same day as the World Climate Summit in Copenhagen. Ecosia said the deforestation of the tropical rainforests is the single most important source of CO2 emissions in the world, which is why it is campaigning to stop deforestation.