A collaborative new app that allows climate-conscious consumers to have a positive impact on their carbon footprint has been launched. The initial release of Reforest calculates the carbon emissions of a flight or fuel purchase and enables the user to plant trees in native Australian reforestation projects for a small payment, then challenges the retailer to match it.
Entrepreneur Daniel Walsh founded Reforest to offer both consumers and businesses who are concerned about their footprint a tangible and visible impact on emissions. The app is designed to engage users so they see first-hand the impact of their climate positive investment, offering transparency and a sense of project ownership. With each fuel or flight purchase, the consumer builds a virtual forest within the app that parallels their actual trees growing in the project site. If the site they choose has a special benefit such as providing habitat for a particular species, they’ll even hear when that species starts calling that new forest home.
“Our users get to create their own native, biodiverse forest,” said Walsh. ‘They can see the progress of their trees over time, including drone imagery. They can prompt their fuel supplier and their airline to match their action, and they can inspire others by sharing the positive impact they’re having.”
Until now, the only option available to address emissions has been to buy a carbon offset. Traditional carbon offsets were never designed to be a consumer product though, which explains why most people don’t understand, trust or find them a satisfying option for dealing with their emissions. Even the carbon-conscious among us aren’t buying them. Despite 81% of the general public being concerned about climate change, only around 1-2% of people buy offsets when offered.
High quality and closely-monitored reforestation projects can remove large volumes of CO2 from the atmosphere whilst also restoring natural habitats and supporting biodiversity. Reforest partners with new, high quality, biodiverse reforestation projects that are registered with an official certification body (such as the Australian Government) as an official carbon abatement project. The projects are audited regularly and the trees will be legally protected for at least 100 years.
Mt Rose Habitat Regeneration, in the Murray region of North-Eastern Victoria, is Reforest’s pilot project. Trees purchased will create natural habitat for the threatened Southern Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby. There are fewer than 60 animals of this sub-species remaining in the wild. The 170-hectare property will be converted to a conservation zone, with a first pilot stage to begin in May 2020. The first users of the Reforest app will be able to reforest their carbon footprint with trees in this important project.
The Reforest app has already won the Carbon Offset Solutions prize at the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Technology Challenge in late 2019 and secured a commitment to be implemented by Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines’ joint venture airline, SunExpress, when air travel resumes. Reforest will be available directly within the SunExpress online booking system.
Future releases of the app will enable users to grow their unique personal forest with trees from an expanded range of projects, cover other carbon-producing activities and engage corporate partners who are moving towards a more sustainable business model.
The Reforest app is available now via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.