How Cornwall based charity, Cool Earth, is using tech to change the world for the better

22nd October, 2018

You may not associate digital technology with charities, and non-government organisations trying to save the Amazon rain forest, help those who have lost everything in some of the worst disaster zones around the world or reducing the amount plastic that ends up in our ocean.

However the role these charities play in making the world a better a place would not happen so smoothly or efficiently without the Superfast Broadband, social media and the use of tech.

“Technology is at the heart of Cool Earth’s operations,” a spokeswoman for the Penryn-based NGO said. From fundraising to monitoring and reporting our impact, digital innovation drives our effectiveness.”

Cool Earth is a non-profit organisation based in Cornwall which was founded by Johan Eliasch, Frank Field.

It works alongside rain forest communities to halt deforestation and its impact on climate change. To date its work has helped save 901,679 acres of rain forest around the globe. That’s 217 million trees saved from the chainsaw.

Rainforest

The charity’s aim is to save the rain forest. Not by putting up fences in the jungle or buying tracks of equatorial land, but by helping put local people in charge of the forest as they are the ones on the front line of deforestation.

The spokeswoman added: “Local people stand to lose the most from deforestation but the most to gain from its protection. As such, they are the forest’s best possible custodians.

That’s why all Cool Earth partnerships are community-owned and led – an approach that research is continually proving to be the most effective way to keep rain forests standing.

By developing local livelihoods, our mission is to end the cycle of deforestation entrenching villages into further poverty. Creating strong, self-determining communities – not dependency.

We are also the only charity that works solely where the threat to the forest is greatest, on the frontline of deforestation. And each of our partnerships forms a shield to make the neighbouring forest inaccessible to loggers – saving millions of acres of further forest.”

The charity’s work comes as half of the world’s rain forest has been destroyed in the last 40 years and continues to be lost at a faster rate than ever.

The organisation uses several sources of satellite imagery to monitor canopy loss in rain forest partnerships as well as drone technology for fly throughs.

It can help us assess our impact over time, but also allow us to investigate any apparent canopy loss in real time, and report back to the community.

Rainforest

The spokeswoman said: “By adding this kind of insight to our other monitoring methods such as household survey data, images from camera traps, and other tools, we can begin to get a really detailed picture of Cool Earth’s impact. And as technology improves alongside our own skills and knowledge, that picture will become even richer.”

Cool Earth is a digital-first charity and fundraises solely through its website.

That means that it may be small compared with others such as Greenpeace but the digital sphere allows it to punch above its weight when developing online giving tools, campaigns, and systems.

It also uses crypto currencies to ensure donations from people around the world are safe.

Cool Earth is currently looking to expand its team of software developers and web designers.

The spokeswoman added: “We are currently looking at ways that technology could help make Cool Earth even more effective in the future.

“We currently allow donations in crypto currencies but we’re looking at ways that blockchain technology could help us make smart contracts with rainforest communities, and how we could use distributed ledgers to get funds from donors directly into the hands of people on the ground.”

In recent years Cool Earth has also been investigating emerging technology in the monitoring and evaluation field, such as bioacoustics and eDNA.

Trees

For Cool Earth being in Cornwall means it has access to Superfast Broadband and can carry out its work remotely while tapping into all the technological advances around the world.

The Cool Earth spokeswoman added: “Our offices at the Tremough Innovation Centre are on the doorstep of some of the world’s leading researchers on climate, sustainability and land use.

We are able to make use of schemes like Unlocking Potential to attract and develop the brightest talent. Superfast broadband means we can work at pace.

Right now, it feels like Cornwall is leading the way in innovations in technology, and we’ll benefit hugely from that as well as the collaborative culture that exists in the county.”





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