The University of East Anglia (UEA) is today (Monday 15 March) switching its default search engine on campus computers to Ecosia, in a move that will potentially result in over 100,000 more trees being planted each year around the world.
The green shift follows a student-led initiative, ‘UEA on Ecosia’, that has already seen the planting of 289 new saplings.
Berlin-based Ecosia is a not-for-profit search engine that uses advertising revenues to plant trees in areas affected by deforestation. So far, over 120 million trees have been planted across 31 reforestation sites worldwide, focused on areas where they will have the most powerful ecological and social impact, including Brazil, Indonesia and Madagascar.
Changing the campus’ search engine to Ecosia will add to UEA’s sustainability mission. Environmental Science masters students Flynn Ames and James Bell launched the UEA on Ecosia campaign at the University in 2019. Since then they have been raising awareness of the eco-friendly search engine at events on campus and through a social media campaign.
By working closely with key university stakeholders, including UEA’s IT & Computing Services (ITCS) and the UEA students’ union, uea(su), as well as Ecosia, UEA on Ecosia has been able to influence a lasting environmental change.
Flynn said: “A big thanks to every person that has provided support throughout this campaign, from those in uea(su) to ITCS, to followers, friends, and Ecosia. The enthusiasm has been incredible and has driven the result that we see today. Thousands more trees are now going to be planted every year at a time when we need them more than ever. This really demonstrates how small changes can make huge differences.”
James said: “We are thrilled that the University acknowledges their part in creating a more sustainable society and hope they continue to display this pragmatism in the coming years. We hope the switch to Ecosia highlights the impact smaller changes in our lives can have on the wider global community.”
UEA’s move to the Ecosia search engine follows its ambition to become 100% net zero by 2045 or earlier and reaffirms the University’s position as a leader in the sector in the battle against climate change, having been at the forefront of climate research for 50 years.
UEA on Ecosia is part of the worldwide tree-planting phenomenon ‘Ecosia on Campus’ which started out as an idea between three students and has developed into 200+ universities planting 200,000 trees in just three years. UEA will be only the 14th university in the world to make the switch to Ecosia.
Mark Barry, ITCS Director at UEA, said: “UEA is a world leader in climate change research, but creating a sustainable campus for students, staff and our community is a key part of our mission. We are delighted to support the move to Ecosia, and to do our part locally to make such a positive environmental impact globally. I look forward to working on more initiatives that will enhance the sustainability of our University.”
Fred Henderson, Ecosia’s partnerships manager, said: “Now that UEA has made Ecosia its default search engine, we will be able to plant hundreds of thousands more trees. I can’t thank the UEA on Ecosia team enough for initiating this environmental change and to the faculty and IT department for implementing the switch. I hope it will inspire other universities around the world to join the movement.”
To search and plant trees, people can head to ecosia.org (or ecosia.co/UEA to contribute to the UEA counter), install the Ecosia app on iOS or Android, and download the Chrome or Firefox browser extension.