The startup TreeO, a start-up of the NGO Fairventures Worldwide, won the Google Impact Challenge Germany with over 70’000 public votes and received a cash prize of 500k €. Our PhD student Jonas Böhm was part of that success story through his initiative Bridge17, which engages in ventures that use digital technologies in novel business models for sustainable development. The start-up aims to create highly detailed and reliable data on reforested trees through AI-supported mobile collected field data. The idea is to create a triple effect: give smallholder farmers knowledge and negotiation power, access to financial services through securitization of natural assets and a traceable value chain which starts at the very source.
The long-term effects however could be even bigger. Worldwide 2 billion ha of degraded land could be reforested and thus provide means of income and natural storage of CO2. Models estimate that a yearly increase of 4% of reforestation could neutralize 100% of global CO2 emissions until 2050 – an option that unfortunately is not present in today’s discussion. Also, decarbonizing for example the construction industry through the use sustainably sourced timber could have huge effects on decarbonizing our economy.
This great success story showcases the practical relevance of our research and the quality of our graduates.