How Crowdfunding Saved the Trees

I recently read about a great crowdfunding success story. In 2007, an oil reserve worth $7.2 billion) was discovered under Ecuador’s Yasuni National. The president Rafael Correa challenged the world to help protect this amazing portion of the planet saying that if the world could provide half of that sum, then the rainforest could stay unaltered. The fundraising deadline was set for December 30th, 2011 to raise $100 million. Here are some of the key facts from the United Nations’ Yasuni ITT Trust Fund about Yasuni:

  • Yasuni: one of the most bio-diverse areas on the planet
  • One hectare in Yasuni contains more tree species than are native to the whole of North America
  • 78% of Ecuadorian citizens support the Yasuni Initiative
  • The Yasuni ITT Trust Fund administered by UNDP was established in August 2010

Last month, the date came and went and some $116 million had been acquired from around the world in order to preserve Yasuni unaltered. Way to go, crowdfunding! The new goal is to raise the full $3.6 billion by 2024 and hopefully someday halt the threat of drilling indefinitely.

However, crowdsourcing has been helping the trees for some time now. A crowdmapping project commissioned by the City of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. In hopes of managing their urban forest, the city developed PhillyTreeMap, which allows the public to create an interactive and dynamic map of the city’s tree population in the interest of preserving it in city planning. This helped to produce a similar program called Redwood Watch, which will create a detailed crowdsourced map of individual redwoods so that as the climate continues to warm over the next century, scientists can track the trees’ responses.

In an age where it seems like some of the environmental problems facing us are dire indeed, it’s nice to see how crowdfunding and crowdsourcing are helping to move us forward in a green direction.

What other crowdfunding and crowdsourcing initiatives help make a better planet? What would you like to change on this green earth?

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