WeForest doubles crowdfunding target to empower Indian village

22 Mar 201647 Shares

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A local woman planting nursery trees in Dympep

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WeForest.org has surpassed its initial $5,000 crowdfunding goal and is now hurtling towards a new $10,000 target, which will enable it to create 180 jobs for local women in the village of Dympep in India, planting trees that may help fight the climate change problem in the area.

WeForest.org founder Bill Liao said that the charity’s first foray into crowdfunding on Global Giving has been an astonishing success, with the initial $5,000 target surpassed at the weekend – planting the seeds for more crowdfunding campaigns around specific projects.

The organisation, which has planted 11.5m trees so far in countries around the equator in the last eight years, is combating climate change and at the same time creating social and economic opportunities for women and families in regions ravaged by deforestation.

Education programmes teach locals about economic opportunities through restoring biodiversity to their area WeForest.Org

Education programmes teach locals about economic opportunities through restoring biodiversity to their area

The crowdfunding campaign aims to help the village of Dympep, a village in north-eastern India, restore the original subtropical forest and its unique biodiversity.

“This will enable local villages to yield income and help change the climate cycle by taking degraded land and turning it into productive forestry.”

‘If we took the world’s top 50 companies and got them to pledge their profit from one day of a year for five years, we could solve climate change with enough tree planting’
– BILL LIAO

Liao said that centuries of degradation of the world’s rainforests have been accelerated in recent decades. “Poverty is a major deforestor but demand for biofuels in Brazil are also a killer where virgin trees are being harvested for palm oil.”

He explained that most of WeForest.org’s donations come from corporations, including Google, Deloitte and FedEx, but said he felt that crowdfunding would help to create an intimate connection between people and specific projects.

“If we took the world’s top 50 companies and got them to pledge their profit from one day of a year for five years, we could solve climate change with enough tree planting.

“Or if we planted one tree for every serving of Coca-Cola we would have solved climate change in 154 days.

“It costs 50 cents to plant a tree as well as educate the local populations in villages around the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn in permaculture,” Liao said.

“When we started on this journey we thought we would need two trillion trees to end climate change but, actually, we could plant 262bn trees around the world at $131bn at today’s prices and effectively end climate change.”

Emboldened by the success of the crowdfunding plan, Liao sees it as a way of raising funding for specific projects and raising awareness.

Woman and child in the village of Dympep in north-eastern India where Weforest.org aims to create 180 new jobs by empowering local people through the reforestation of the area

A woman and child in the village of Dympep in north-eastern India where Weforest.org aims to create 180 new jobs by empowering local people through the reforestation of the area

“The key here is knowing you are doing good and knowing what you are doing does no harm at all. This isn’t about reaching down to give someone a hand up, it is about reaching across the table and getting someone to work with you.

“If the climate gets wrecked, we are all stuffed.”

Liao cited the example of the Sahara Desert, which was once a rainforest. “The Romans and the Phoenicians cut down those trees to build fleets and the trees didn’t grow back – no one knew back then that they should – but we have a chance to turn devastated areas into lush rainforests, save the planet and create trillions in sustainable income every year. It is a peaceful solution to a devastating problem for our world,” Liao concluded.

Disclaimer: Bill Liao is a partner with SOSV, which is an investor in Silicon Republic

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com