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GreenStand

GreenStand is employment and empowerment platform for smallholder tree planters.

Photo of Ezra Jay
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Our goal is to create a self-sustaining restoration platform that connects local communities in developing countries with socially and environmentally concerned world citizens. Restoration efforts are informed, and adjusted, by results of basic research on ecological systems. Through local engagement, we aim to empower communities to improve their environmental integrity while providing opportunities for economic gain.
As trees grow in size, their potential value to communities grows as well. By empowering end users with the tools to document and map their work, we provide a framework to incentivize the funding and long-term care of planted trees. Data from our custom mobile app, linked to a database on our website, ensures transparency in the tree-planting process by delivering a visible and quantifiable measure of success to donors. This data provides foundational ecological information that can be used to optimize future planting efforts within each region.
Our system is currently developed to work on Android devices, giving smallholder tree planters the technology necessary to verify and measure their existing tree planting efforts.

By creating a verified digital tree token, we value individual trees from the day they are planted. This allows us to facilitate the transactions necessary for the free market trading of trees. Picture a system that allows you to buy a cup of coffee and automatically offset the carbon emissions generated for its production by funding reforestation efforts that employ and feed people in some of the worlds poorest most depleted environments.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our primary beneficiaries are individual planters in remote areas of developing countries. These are the people who are making less than a dollar a day destroying the forests for charcoal and subsistence agriculture. Our platform creates an alternative means of employment and builds ecological wealth, bringing economic opportunity to the farthest corners of the earth. Our main goal is to bring money and environmental wealth into impoverished communities.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

We have created a data collection framework that incentives an ongoing interaction between smallholder tree planters, their trees. This is not an easy task and has never been done before. This framework is built as open source software, anyone in the world can copy it. Our competitive advantage lies in our approach. We are a lean organization built by a strong team of dedicated individuals who have joined to solve a complex and real global problem. We have extensive experience working on environmental and social issues in developing countries.
There is no direct link between tree planting in any corner of the world and the individual anywhere else.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

We are a collective of volunteers who have joined under the umbrella of a non-profit social enterprise to implement an idea that will change the face of the planet and offer meaningful widespread employment to the world's poorest rural communities. Www.greenstand.org

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

I met a woman, a single mother in a mud hut. She was a friend of mine. Her image, her plight, her desperate situation can easily be transposed onto the lives of a multitude of others in her same situation. No work, no food, no hope, just actions out of desperation. So often those actions tax the environment beyond what it can bear and the situation worsens. I am inspired by a solution, by a way to give these women, millions of them, a job and a meaningful task that feeds and nourishes.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The instability of the governments in developing countries and general lack of political stability in such regions prevent the long-term planning or access to any internal tools and mechanisms necessary to for sustainable economic development. Our planet is suffering because the people of these impoverished regions have no path to prosperity other than the over-extraction of the scarce environmental resources they have available.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We work alongside other tree orgainzations by creating an interactive link and treemaps that they can use as a fundraising tool. Providing transparency to these organizations increases their funding opportunities. We also connect tree planting funds from other organizations to individual planters. Now we are ready to support green marking by creating a direct link from the consumer to the planter's measured environmental impact.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Millions of the worlds poorest find their next meal by cutting down forests and selling the wood. These people work extremely hard and most make less than a dollar a day. Thier actions are out of desperation. They already want to rebuild the environment but do not have the means to do so. By offering sustained employment to plant trees, these people are extremely resourceful and will grow forests like never before.

Geographic Focus

This is a global project with a focus on equatorial areas of extreme poverty.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

Currently, the project is already working and the goals are clear. Within 6 months the software will be solid enough to handle millions of data entries per day. We aim to be fully operational, within 24 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

56 comments

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Photo of Ana Luisa Ahern
Team

Very cool project, I will be in touch and hope we can collaborate on tree planting initiatives in Central America in the future!

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Thanks, Ana,
We are relying on a volunteer team of cool people to build and implement it. And so we are always looking for awesome people with fresh insights. There appears to be a real need for the project and it has serious potential to scale, which means a lot more trees and economic opportunity in rural areas around the world. So I invite you to stop by and say. Or even better help us roll it out. Can you tell I am a recruiter :)
Ezra Jay@greenstand.org

Photo of Ana Luisa Ahern
Team

Hahaha yes, you are definitely a good recruiter! Good luck and we will keep in touch!

Photo of Dima Boulad
Team

@Ezra Jay  and @Ryan Witten thank you for a wonderful submission! This is such an important subject, and you offer a good solution for a gap. Since this project is global and (I'm hoping it will scale up very soon!), I am wondering how will you ensure good quality, and the right kind of follow up. There is often one issue regarding planting that is sometimes less talked about: Maintenance. I have seen some individuals or associations boast about the planting of so many trees (in hundreds and thousands!) and do less when it comes to actual work of maintenance and looking after some trees. How do you plan to address that? How can the program also offer incentives on that? What if those people want to plant trees but aren't sure about the type of trees that are best for this land? Will there be some kind of exchange platform about planting?I am also eager to know a bit more about the digital currency system. Practically, can you walk us through a journey of a user of your app/ digital platform? After they upload the picture of the tree they planted and geotagged it, what happens?I hope these questions resonate and help inspire! Would love to follow up with you guys if you need some help on Design Research or UX/UI!

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hi Dima,
We would love help on Design Research or UX/UI! I've attached the link to our team slack channel if you would like to view our join the full the conversation on our team.

I see I missed this question: "Can you walk us through a journey of a user of your app/ digital platform? After they upload the picture of the tree they planted and geotagged it, what happens?"

There are two different types of app users:
Where we believe this platform can have the largest impact is by focusing on our target user which are the smallholder tree planters in remote rural villages. They need to plant trees and tend to them. Then they find a "smartphone" (Currently this is a village phone or any android they can find). They log in with their cell phone number that is linked to mobile money (such as Mpesa) They walk around and take pictures of their trees. Then they return their phone. And go home with their sim card. We analyze their images and pay them (3.5 cents per living tree per month, according to the number of "valid tree" images they have, and send money directly to their personal sim card. They then take this sim card to a shop and withdraw their money.
We then take the "verified tree" and link it to a donor.

Another user case is the organizations that need to verify their planting efforts. They plant, send people out to track the trees, and are given a "treemap" such as this one www.treetracker.org. We also provide customized tokens for these organizations that they can use as an interactive fundraising tool. In this case, updating the tree is at the user organization's discretion.

Here is a link to a diagram for this second user case
https://github.com/Greenstand/Development-Overview/blob/master/Tokening%20System%20Diagram.png

If you would like to advise us more we would love to have you join our slack channel, which can be found here:
https://github.com/Greenstand/Development-Overview/blob/master/Contributing.md

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Dima Boulad  Here are a few other diagrams. We would love any ideas on how we can improve these
General project idea: https://github.com/Greenstand/Design/blob/master/Old%20Tree%20Planting%20Flow%20Diagram.jpg
https://github.com/Greenstand/Design/blob/master/TreeTracker_StoryFlow.pdf
Planter User story:
https://github.com/Greenstand/Design/blob/master/T_badging%20feature.png

Photo of David / Thomas Svarrer / Høyer
Team

Dear Ezra,

Have you checked out the "what 3 word" thing for localization on Earth?

Have you checked that globalforestwatch.org site, where they are already providing something similar to your system, though, not down to leaf level - they work such that you can set alarms which will be triggered if the forest you are watching is being deforested.

You can zoom quite well into details on their forest watch system.

We had a project running with a 100 acre agroforest North of Mombasa some years ago, and they sold the same trees as CO2 forest to several different stakeholders, to our disappointment.

I understand that you can identify each tree, by a globally unique code, and that is very well, though, this does not directly prevent "double sales", unless your system is the single one system in the world dealing with "CO2 forests".

I have personally worked in the anticounterfeit industry for 10 years, and if you are facing such problems I would be happy to assist. We have systems in our corporate Genaco Verigen which can assist you - maybe ...

In regards to your initiative ?? GREAT, simply great, great, grandious.

Do you face any difficulties or challenges? We would be happy to help if you do.

Sincerely
David / Thomas
Rational Intuitive IVS
Nexus 7 Solar Concentrator

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Thomas,
'What the word' is an awesome idea. On that line, someone who "bought" some trees on our platform wanted to name all her trees.. I thought that would be an awesome interactive feature between the donor and the tree.

Forest watch is awesome.. we have plans to integrate into that system. With our current structure, it is evident that a few key players will have to stop going to their day jobs to do this.

We are super away of the problems with carbon credits. And the same issues are happen with tree plantings but probably even worse. Organizations double fund trees that they have not even planted. Often people collecting funds for trees have nothing to do with these trees. We are taking on these problems with all the force we can muster!

This is a framework for absolute transparency. You state "unless your system is the single one system..." For this to work, this system needs to be owned by all. We are trying to laying a framework for this.

If you want to know the challenges we are facing... I invite you to join our collective of volunteers. We need more people who think like you! https://github.com/Greenstand/Development-Overview/blob/master/Contributing.md

Here are most of the current tech issues we are facing. We are still working on documenting the implementation issues... Of which there are many
https://github.com/Greenstand/Development-Overview/blob/master/Issues-lndex.md

Photo of David / Thomas Svarrer / Høyer
Team

Dear Ezra,

I would be happy to assist you on creating workable systems, which can deal with the tree registration. However, I got it, that you already have a workable system up and running, or how is it?

I sense your frustration on the cheating and fraud with CO2 quotas, etc., and I share it in full.

What are your thoughts on how this can be prevented? My take is that your idea should be made in such a way so that everybody who want to plant trees, can use the system for the registration, and then your system would form the bridge to the CO2 investors.

But, what are your thoughts? How are you doing this? How will you create the credibility?

It is a key problem to solve. I understand that a lot of investors who are ready to invest real money in tree planting are hesitant due to this ongoing fraud.

Sincerely
David

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

David, Thanks for your input.
We love all the help we can get.

We have a basic framework working and are starting to collect data at a trickle rate of a few hundred trees a day. The project has passed it proof of concept stage. Here is a small list of the deliverables that we've been aligning the project to accomplish. Any input here is good.

https://github.com/Greenstand/Development-Overview/blob/master/Project%20Deliverables.md
I invite you to swing by our Slack channel, even if it is only to say hi and keep our team energy up. If you do, you will find a lot of conversation on Blockchain and carbon credit projects etc.
As the fundamental building block for all of this, we look at the ability to link and credit an individual tree grower to a specific tree, or rather a verified, codified and cryptographically signed version of that tree.

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hi David,
I see I missed a critical part of your question.
We are set up to bridge the gap between the planting and the C02 investors. I like your idea that "it should be made in such a way so that everybody who want to plant trees, can use the system for the registration."

Your question, "How will you create the credibility?" We are creating a free and open system that is extremely difficult to falsify. I try to stay away from the blockchain conversations but blockchain is certainly on our roadmap.

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal
Team

Hi Ezra Jay , Thank you for your wonderful idea! This sounds like an interesting idea for the nature lovers living in urban areas or in apartments to grow a tree and be proud about it. In my country also we have a similar platform: http://thuru.lk/. Hope you can get some more ideas from this in order to improve yours. And also as Roshni Rides does, not only the peace between people, but also you can think about the mental peace of the people when you are thinking about bridging the topic areas. Keep it up. Would love to see the idea grow.

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hello Gayanjith,
Thanks for the comments. I signed up for Thuru.ik - a cool project and certainly along the same lines, although there are a few primary differences. Our project *is not* designed for urban areas/apartments. Rather it is specifically focusing on employment and empowerment for rural smallholder tree planters.
GreenStand's Tree Tracker project allows the tree to actually feed people. The framework creates a financial link that bridges the gap between the socially connected developed world and areas of extreme poverty. We are creating an ongoing interaction between the donor/offsetting-entity and planter/tree. Although the planter could share the trees/treemap in their network, our goal is to allow them to essentially "sell" that verified planting as a tree token to supporters. The supporters (business and donors concerned about their image or impact) buy these tree tokens and can share them via whatever media they like.
This is a framework that addresses extreme poverty by actually paying people to grow trees. It is a data-driven scientific approach focusing on verification and valuation of the independent living tree.

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal
Team

Yes Ezra Jay , I was referring to a similar mode. The people who live in the urban areas that I referred to are the donors or the people who invest in these trees while the people living in rural areas are the ones who are growing the trees. I think both of us are talking about the same thing, more or less :) But to solve this ambiguity, is it possible for you to create a story board or a journey map for your solution ? Inspiration: https://uxplanet.org/storyboarding-in-ux-design-b9d2e18e5fab

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hi Gayanjith,
It does seem we are talking about the same thing. Although the Thuru.ik app is the "Facebook for trees" and doesn't seem to pay people to plant, rather it simply gives tree planters "points." I will be doing more research and continue to look for ways we can collaborate with them. Thanks for sharing.

We have someone on our team creating an updated storyboard now. I hope to upload it in the next day or so. Thanks for the link.

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal
Team

Great! Keep up the good work!

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hi Gayanjith,
I spent a while on the phone with Heminda from Thuru.ik last night. They are doing an awesome job and certainly working in the same space! It is exciting to start a conversation with them. We will be looking for ways to integrate our systems. Thanks for the connection.

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal
Team

Hi Ezra Jay ! It's really great to hear that! Keep up the good work and keep improving. I read through most of your other comments here and it seems like you are on the right track. How about doing some experiments on your on boarding process now? If there's a tree growing somewhere out there under my name, I would really like to show it off to my friends. How can I do that here? And do I get regular updates about my tree? And as we know a plant would take many years to grow into a tree and how do you plan to manage your services throughout this very long period of time?

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hi Gayanjith Premalal  We are experimenting. Here is the tree growing out there in the dust of Africa under your name. http://www.treetracker.org/?token=Gayanjith_Premalal You will get an updated image of this tree shortly.
If you could add/change one element to this user experience, what would it be?

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal
Team

Well, I need something cute and classy to share on my social media! It should sound like "Hey people! This guy has actually got a tree growing under his name in Africa!" And probably I need to check the growth of the tree time to time and I need some assurance that I will not be cheated on :)

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Gayanjith, We have all these things and much much more in the works...
Your cute and classy tree token is coming.
I pinged your specific tree for you and your planters should be updating it shortly.

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Dear Gayanjith, We have been able to update your tree. Unfortunately, like many other trees in this environment, it has been nibbled on by a cow and no longer has any leaves. According to a note from the planter, it is still alive and is showing some signs of recovery. We will keep you updated on its condition. Here is a link with the original and updated image:
http://www.treetracker.org/?token=Gayanjith_Premalal
(The feature that automatically matches the trees and allows you to scroll its image files has yet to be completed.)

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal
Team

The users would get really disappointed and frustrated if their tree is eaten by a cow. Incidents like that will kill your idea immediately. Any ideas to solve that problem? How might we create a sense of assurance in the donor's mind about his/her tree?

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Reality is the problem here. Trees die.

The easiest way to protect the user's feelings is to protect them from the truth. Unfortunately, this is difficult for us as we are creating this system to be as transparent and open as possible. We are an open data collection platform.

You as the donor, now have a choice. You can let us transfer your remaining funds to a new tree, we can replant that one in the next rainy season, or you can take your funds to a different organization that doesn't provide any verification at all.

Today we have been working on the wording for a guarantee program. "GreenStand guarantees that your funds will be linked to a living tree for the first two years of it's journey." Our team doesn't like this, because we are aware of the extreme challenges. Any ideas? We would love your thoughts.

Photo of Willoughby Eunice
Team

I believe this work has incorporated the use of GIS and remote sensing to work with the app but am still concerned with the onground monitoring though. This is one of the basics that will determine the sustainability of the project.

All the best

Photo of David / Thomas Svarrer / Høyer
Team

Hi Willoughby Eunice - What is it with the "onground monitoring" you are concerned about? I think the "law of the masses" rules here - if the "Greenstand" project is even only 90% efficient it would be sufficient to catch any and all cheaters. And I see the linkage of trees to a particular "buyer" or a group of buyers, as key to a 1-to-1 linkage between those who pay for the tree and those who plant / maintain it.

Now, Greenstand - what is the cost of monitoring 1 tree, from cradle to grave??

Sincerly David Svarrer, RI, Nexus 7 Solar Concentrator 

Photo of Willoughby Eunice
Team

I believe in a working system,there should be routine operational and sytem checks in place. Why I made mention of this is because its not just an app but it's linked with a physical entity.
The onground monitoring per say doesn't mean a whole mass of people but selected few amongst planters that can handle extreme critical crisis since pioneers can't be physically present in all countries of the world (I.e if they are looking at global coverage) and if that's not feasible, a partnership with small scale organizations with vast knowledge in the field may work.

I have been oppurtuned to work in Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria and sharing the challenges that may come up and how we are tackling it. It doesn't just boil down to training individuals but also having a follow up.Thanks to technology making it easier but protection of growth process of product is vital key.

Photo of David / Thomas Svarrer / Høyer
Team

Dear Willoughby, I like your comment a lot. Yes, checks and balances must be in place. What, in your experience, is the best practice??

Photo of Dusti Becker
Team

Willoughby Eunice  Nexus 7 Solar Concentrator Ezra Jay  Great conversation! I am also curious to the particular challenges, Willoughby Eunice , that you faced in Nigeria and what type of partnership worked best for onground monitoring. WWF has provided funding for local rangers to help curtail the cutting of Nyakweri forest in Kenya for charcoal production, where our project is. But, I envision as Willoughby has suggested that community/local rangers will be needed throughout the reforestation process to monitor long term.
Best,
Carrie (part of Dusti Becker 's team)

Photo of David / Thomas Svarrer / Høyer
Team

Dear Willoughby Eunice -... It is our quite strong belief, that the very best way to stop tree harvesting anywhere in the world, is to find out what causes the net number of trees to be reducing, and then provide replacement for the need of those trees.

When the need of trees thereby goes down to below the number of trees being planted, we will - without any monitoring - have stopped the problem.

We intend via our Nexus 7 Solar Concentrator to participate in this work with anything and everything we have in us - by competing strongly with Charcoal, Firewood and Kerosene - thereby BOTH saving trees for chilling Earth (via evaporation) and ALSO reducing CO2, via that same saving operation - CO2, which unfortunately has been claimed to the "The" main cause of global warming.

Our approach has the benefit that it plays on 2 keys on the restoration piano, both tree planting to restore evaporation (and thereby rainfall / precipitation), and then, indirectly, also playing on the CO2 key.

We intend to work with guys like yourself, who are experts in trees, forests, planting, etc., and with those who create water out of the air (see Majik Water ), join forces with those instrumental in getting messages our (see Our Workshop ), those who can convert energy to power (see INSTAPOWER ) - and those who want to use peaceful, in fact almost passive(!) means (see RaHa Solutions - #FightInequalty via Rains etc etc. - we are also hoping to get to an understanding with a great team from Asia who are currently doing great in planting Mangroves via Drones, and who intend to use the (dubious) #Blockchain technology to keep tracks of their good work being done - we are likely some 20 projects who should use this opportunity to work together.

We are missing to hear from you when we will start working together ... ?

SIncerely
Nexus 7 Solar Concentrator 
David / Thomas
Rational Intuitive IVS (Denmark / Kenya)

Photo of Willoughby Eunice
Team

Apologies for late reply.
Firstly, grassroot incorporation was involved. Having some of the local heads and youth leaders as part of head planters was helpful as it was evident that these people are regarded and respected within their communities and transparency was put in check.
Mini zonal stations created and routine check up done twice a month.
Youth leaders were encouraged to do have discussions with planters within their zone fortnightly and this has also foster unity and commitment within them.

Contributions to each community wasn't monetary wise but basic amenities and necessities were provided to curb hoarding of funds though volunteers were paid.

From recent studies through aerial photography, it has been discovered that felling of trees has almost gotten to the borders of Benin Republic, so what was done was active involvement of locals especially their leaders and some contributions made to communities involved. These are one of the things piloting community protection and involvement and reducing the menace of illegal tree fellers.

Another alternative was the local production of briquettes using starch and wood waste as research conducted reveals low CO2 emission from briquettes compared to use of logs and charcoal.

 This has created job opportunities amongst locals.

 I believe that Green Stand will be successful as technology will be a very useful tool.Also, being able to visibly see the growth process of your tree is a wow factor and active communication with the organization will give a sense of belonging and build trust between donor-organization - volunteer.

I will like to add also that the template should be designed in a way that it's flexible to fit into any country regardless of language,belief,religion and cultural barriers. This will help as the projection is globally.

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hi David,
GreenStand is creating transparency and verification for tree planting. We aim to shift the focus from planting to growing trees.

GreenStand's project is still in the early phases of development, yet it has already proven to be extremely useful for identifying scams. Now if you are supporting a tree project anywhere in the world, all you have to do is ask your project/planter to walk around and check up on their trees with our android tree tracker application. If you want to know how long your trees are surviving. You simply tell them to go back and re-verify your trees. This element of the project is the required piece of the puzzle that will allow widespread tree planting employment for the smallholder tree planter.

In regards to the cost of monitoring 1 tree. The software is free for users other than minor data upload charges. This system is designed to be integrated into satellite-based tracking.

A more appropriate question is "What does it cost to grow a specific tree, in a specific location?" As our goal is an employment platform, we are set up to answer this question. Our target user lives on less than a dollar a day. We aim to pay around $70 a month for someone who can plant and maintain around 2000 trees.

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hi Dusti,
Cool project and certainly needed.

GreenStand's approach to conservation is to create meaningful employment for those who are currently destroying the forest out of desperation.

Glad you mentioned charcoal. The charcoal industry relies on an army of extremely hard working people and rarely do any of these people make more than a $1 a day destroying the forests. We are creating the framework that offers the opportunity of employment for these same individuals.
It can pay more to plant trees than to chop them down. If we can implement and follow through on this idea it will spread - we will have something that can actually end the charcoal industry and all conflict that it causes.

If you are interested, I'd love to reach out to you and gain some understanding of how this can be implemented. We still have a large gap to bridge before the individuals arrested for making charcoal can figure out how to make money planting trees.

Photo of David / Thomas Svarrer / Høyer
Team

Dear GreenStand - It is an awesome project. We would so much like to work more with you, I think we can give each other a lot.

OUR angle to the missing trees is to do what we master - solar energy - to remove the demand for firewood, charcoal (and kerosene). This would make any tree planting much more sustainable as we would know that the planted trees would remain planted.

Agroforestry can indeed work for all sorts of demands for wood for building and construction - while that kind of wood is too expensive to make a difference for the 2 billion people who depend on firewood and charcoal.

SO - we would love to work with you too. And would love to hear if there is anything we can do for your project? We would like to "take your project with us", where ever we are going to go, for the next 3 to 5 years - such that when we setup solar concentrator solutions, then we also bring with us your greenstand project???

SIncerely David / Thomas, Rational Intuitive IVS, Nexus 7 Solar Concentrator 

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hi David, Cool project you are working on as well.

We would love for you to bring us along with you.

All you need to do is convince people to plant trees and tell them to verify and track them with our app. We then link them to funding and create an ongoing support system.

Photo of Willoughby Eunice
Team

Hello. Marvellous work you got going there. Regarding blockchains and cryptocurrencies, the ESC team has put up a project on that,its regarding CO2 emissions too,you can link up with Bremley Lyngdoh and Sai Nellore.

 From my environmentalist point of view,how viable is this project in terms of protection to adult stage? I think a system should be put in place regarding zonal on the ground monitoring where volunteers are assigned to monitor the growth of trees in designated areas/municipalities /regions/zones.

 I will like to incorporate the template here in Nigeria work is being concluded on a tree research project. The major challenge here is land space as people are so now agricultural conscious in terms of food crops and not tree crops. A partnership can work out as there's access to the small trees here as it is being supplied from a research institute.

In terms of supply, what is being done is raising disease resistant species to a stage that it can be readily replanted. This curbs the deficit in plant loss by individuals who can't raise them from nursery stage and helps making planting easier for them.

Would like to see how this can be incorporated here in Nigeria. Starting basically from SouthWest.

Photo of Russell Davis
Team

Hello Ezra, I would like to explore possibilities of you joining our project. I see potential for your application in our Brazilian and India project areas. Let's arrange to talk via WhatsApp +5582998098700 or skype. You have already commented on our project but here are two links for you to review.
https://h2cb2b.wixsite.com/ruralchallenges
https://h2cb2b.wixsite.com/h2ci

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hi Russell,
Super exciting. Just got off a call with a remote African village where starvation and conflict are common.. They have a group of empowered women who are taking it upon themselves to plant thousands of trees.. which we are linking to a US-based organization. We should see these on our platform over the next few weeks. Once they fully understand how these trees living can actually continue to feed them.. it will take off! And it is starting now...
I'll text you on Whatsapp now.

And invite you to join the project. We are a rapidly growing team of inspired volunteers and need all the help we can get.
https://github.com/Greenstand/Development-Overview/blob/master/Contributing.md

Photo of SarahofAfrika Scott
Team

Ezra Dima Boulad  - I'm on board with the GreenStand team, developing this app. I work on the ground in Kilimanjaro on a large scale tree planting initiative called The Kilimanjaro Project. I believe that this app could change the face of tree planting globally, shifting the emphasis to tree growing. I'm excited to be a part of this. I'm working on a story board, the flow, how we communicate what we do, how we do it, and the benefits through images. i've worked on the word flow for now, and would love your feedback on whether you think it tell the story. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1e-OUWm7Kpl96mt7fzWWa4cR-67kosNy1DwlqtV2lnGU/edit
Please click through this link to see the flow, and I'd love to hear some feedback - it's a work in progress. We have some awesome images from our project that we will use to tell the story.

We have seen this challenge over and over again in our project - to plant trees is easy, to maintain them is not. The tree tracker encourages growers not planters.

Photo of Russell Davis
Team

Hi Sarah, I would like to discuss your project efforts and potential to use this application in our projects in Brazil and India. When is convenient to talk? I have also requested access to your referenced files on google. My WhatsApp number is +5582998098700. Here are some links that may be helpful for you to review:
https://h2cb2b.wixsite.com/ruralchallenges
https://h2cb2b.wixsite.com/h2ci

Photo of David / Thomas Svarrer / Høyer
Team

Dear Ezra,

We have discussed your project in our Nexus 7 team, and we have discussed that we would like to hear with you what is the cost of monitoring 1 tree throughout its life cycle of for instance 20 years from planting to harvesting.

Maybe you measure it differently.

I have another question. Given, that researchers find, that the CO2 is not in any way, the major cause of global warming, while the presence of trees and their cooling effect due to the evaporation of water they cause - is the cause of a tempered environment - how would your solution work in that scenario?

Let us assume that your solution is successful, and that your system is being implemented for monitoring of forests, in which ways does your system then empower people who are like the woman whom you found in this terrible condition? What we mean is this: Have you had conversations with these people on the ground, discussing with them what are THEIR dreams, and discussing with them, how they would see tree planting and forestry as their business?

We would, from our project, be happy to work with you, in a slightly different manner.

Our project, Nexus 7, has the purpose behind the scene of restoring forests, by providing energy in form of heat, power, cooling to replace kerosene and firewood in that our system is designed to be by factors cheaper than kerosene and firewood, and designed to provide these 3 things 24/7 and not only when there is sunshine. We are therefore interested in working with people like yourself, who can provide monitoring of the forests being planted, such that we can have a stepwise reforestation for instance like this:

1) Put up solar concentrator and heat storage
2) Identify which trees to plant
3) Plant trees, preferably (only!) indigenous trees already present in that region.
4) Maintain forest

In case of agroforestry, there are more steps and repeat steps...

In order to maintain the forest and monitor the reforestry, we would indeed be happy to know how that would work.

Sincerely
Thomas & David
Rational Intuitive IVS
Nexus 7 Solar Concentrator

Photo of Ryan Witten
Team

Hello openIDEO bridgebuilder community. I've included a link to our github repository, specifically to a file illustrating the relationship between donor contributions, small holder tree planters and the geo-located trees that are being stored in the GreenStand TreeTracker database. Please explore the repository to learn more about our project, and the team of people that make it possible. https://github.com/Greenstand/Design/blob/master/T_badging%20feature.png

Photo of James Miller
Team

Are you planning on getting to self sustainability with tree tokens or will you continue to rely on outside contributions in order to manage your organizational structure, tree tracking, and planting?

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hi James, thank you for the comment.
At the moment our tokens are simply a way of representing a "verified tree planting" and sharing it with the supporting entity, such as a donor, donor organization or business. Here is an example (https://www.treetracker.org/?token=Dougs_Trees) As we build on to this type of token it will allow organizations to supply their donors with an interactive verification of the trees they supported. In the long run, we see this as a mechanism to link into "green businesses" and crowdsource support for widespread tree planting. Meanwhile, by tracking and verifying what is happening on the ground we lay the foundation to measure success, optimize current tree planting efforts, make donors funds more efficient and offer employment in remote parts of the world.

Photo of James Miller
Team

Thanks for the prompt and thorough response. So currently payment for your planters comes via donations? Will you transition from donations to utilizing the planted trees as a source of income for the planters so the operation becomes self sustaining?

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Currently, we are linking donations to planters. We intend to link this verification to carbon markets, which is a promising option for sustained returns for planters.
Our model values the existence of a living tree at about 3.5 cents a month. Carbon markets are one way to increase this number.

Photo of Sebastian
Team

Since the tree can also be used as a cash crop or part of forestry (timber) after some years there is all we need in this, to make it self sustaining. (so the answer is yes)

Trees are a self sustaining resource in itself. They have multiple applications and therefore can be utilised as such. With the updates on the trees existence and the connection made between the grower and the donor quality/quantity can be measured and therefore the carbon offset market can be used to give the tree a real value. Currently the Carbon offset market seems not so user friendly for individuals. With our concept we can close the current gap between the user and the carbon offset market. This will increase stability and growth of the system.
One tree does more good than all the money in the world. ;-)

Photo of Dima Boulad
Team

Ezra Jay and Ryan Witten 
thank you for a wonderful submission! This is such an important subject, and you offer a good solution for a gap. Since this project is global and (I'm hoping it will scale up very soon!), I am wondering how will you ensure good quality, and the right kind of follow up. There is often one issue regarding planting that is sometimes less talked about: Maintenance. I have seen some individuals or associations boast about the planting of so many trees (in hundreds and thousands!) and do less when it comes to actual work of maintenance and looking after some trees. How do you plan to address that? How can the program also offer incentives on that? What if those people want to plant trees but aren't sure about the type of trees that are best for this land? Will there be some kind of exchange platform about planting?I am also eager to know a bit more about the digital currency system. Practically, can you walk us through a journey of a user of your app/ digital platform? After they upload the picture of the tree they planted and geotagged it, what happens?I hope these questions resonate and help inspire! Would love to follow up with you guys if you need some help on Design Research or UX/UI!

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hello Dima, That's a lot of good questions.. and an excellent line of thinking.

We exist to address extreme poverty by creating economic opportunity in rebuilding the environment. This is a tree planting employment platform. To do this we look at the verification of the individual living tree as the foundational building block.

As you know, there are a lot of problems with the current tree planting model. Most tree planting operations incentivize the planting of trees based on the number of trees planted, the result is that people plant as many trees as possible, which basically means they dig tiny holes and drop in trees. Although this works well in some cases (like Mangroves) in most situations the results are worse than imagined. The bleak reality behind most tree counters is that they are directly connected to a donation button and that is that. Trees are often double funded, never planted, or if planted are no longer alive. It is a sad truth that many of the people who are good at filling out grant paperwork for tree planting are often not good at planting if they even plant at all. At the same time, there are fantastic organizations and millions of self-appointed village environmentalists around the world who are planting astronomical numbers of trees, with no funds at all. Until now, there has not been any accurate way of tracking and supporting individuals planting trees. Accurate follow up has been nearly impossible.

In it’s simplest form, the foundation of GreenStand’s platform is a “tree verification” system that works by collecting geo-tagged, time-stamped photos and sending them to a database. At this stage in the project, we are answering this fundamental question: “Who planted what where?” In the past, when people would make claims like, “we planted 20,000 trees last month” there was extremely difficult to verify that. We have developed a solution to this problem.

Our goal is now to shift the monetary reward from simply planting trees to incentivizing ongoing care. This next stage of our project is about answering, “How long is each tree surviving?” Our system is based on following up and keeping trees alive over time. We incentivizing tree survival, thus placing this problem into the hands of the individual planter. It is the planters people who understand the localized challenges; they know what works and if they don't, they will figure out what works.

In the future, we will be able to enforce/incentivize species diversity people tend to find one species that works.

“How will you ensure data quality?”

In its simple form, we incentivize quality images by not paying for the poor quality image. If you look at the platform from a scientific data collection standpoint – we pay people to collect “good” data (geotagged images) on tree planting and survival.

We have also programmed a basic level of quality control into the application. Development plans can be found here: https://github.com/Greenstand/Development-Overview/blob/master/Roadmap.md

How do you maintain the trees?

Our platform relies on building an interaction between the planter and the tree. For the planter to earn money from a tree they must maintain it. On our current model, based on one dollar for a tree, we give the donor a two-year guarantee… if it is not alive at that point, the donation will be allocated to a different tree.

“What if those people want to plant trees but aren't sure about the type of trees that are best for this land?”

We will be able to recommend/incentivize specific trees based on the survival data we collect.

“Will there be some kind of exchange platform about planting?”
Feeding the results of our scientific research back to the planter are certainly part of the plan, although outside our current funding status.

“I am also eager to know a bit more about the digital currency system.”

Our focus is on a transparent system to digitize and value individual living trees. Although people on our team believe we are creating a currency, we are currently not doing this directly, rather the nature of what we are creating naturally integrates into ideas such as https://www.ecocoin.com/ which lack the actual environmental verification platform to value a tree.

For now, I’ve donated you a “digitized tree assets.” This token is backed by a verified and freshly planted Croton tree - it’s current value is 3.5 cents.
Here is your digital tree wallet: https://www.treetracker.org/?token=Dima_Boulad

After two years, this tree will be producing about $2 dollars worth of bio-fuel producing nuts each year and store about $30 worth of carbon over the next 30 years. Calculating this trees environmental impact is what we are setting up to do.

Photo of Ashley Tillman
Team

Such a great conversation! Tagging in Bremley Lyngdoh former BridgeBuilder who might have an interesting perspective on incentives.

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hi Ashley,
Conversation is good! And live experimentation is even cooler. Would you like me to give you your first digital tree?

We are creating a direct connection to the rural planter. For 25 cents we will let you ping your free tree. This will feed your planter and give you a cool update that you can share your tree's condition on your favorite social media.

In the past, hunger has only had one effect on trees, now we have a system that incentivizes individuals to keep it keep trees alive! If someone is hungry, there is meaningful work. Our biggest challenge is to bring that payment as close as possible to the act of growing a tree.

I would love any thoughts you have about incentives.

Photo of Dima Boulad
Team

Thank you very much for all these helpful clarifications, and thanks for my first tree planted!

Photo of Sai Nellore
Team

Dear Ezra, a very interesting project that you have conceptualised, can you please elaborate on the data that is monitored through your app. As we have a similar project where we have been working with the local communities and quantifying the carbon sequestration in the trees that are planted. Would be of interest to follow your project in its implementation.

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hi Sai,
Supper cool project, good work. You ask, "Can you please elaborate on the data that is monitored through your app?" Our tree tracker app is designed to collect geo-tagged image-based data on tree growth for approximately the first two years. At this point, most trees die in the first two-year, and after two years they show up on most satellite imagery; we intend to link this data to a satellite-based tracking system. We have developed the project as the framework to build off and accommodate/support other projects. This could be a super valuable tool for your eco-friendly coins. It is open source technology and can be copied or modify as needed.

There are a ton of ideas, we are focusing on our this primary question: "Who planted what where, and how long is it surviving."
Who = organizations, movements, communities, or individual people.
What = Tree species are simple to pick up, providing image quality, although we have yet to automate this process with machine learning so are extremely limited in identifying this.
Where = the platform is being designed to collect multiple images of the same tree over time.
This lays the framework for the precise location of each tree and measuring carbon. However, we are focusing on the initial two years of a trees life, at which point carbon sequestration is negligible.

In the meantime, this could be a fantastic way for you to monitor your tree planting work and we can provide you with a free treemap embed. Or if you have tree planters who need support, we connect planters to donors and would love to tap into your planting network. The system is designed to be simple to use and work offline in remote landscapes that have already been destroyed.

If you (or anyone else) is interested in joining the project or using our tools in more capacity, you can send us an email: info@greenstand.org or join our team with this link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe61HDJKVH16vtTxhXpbwCH-wTVN1e6XoVU1riWjJ-ne5SIiA/viewform?usp=sf_link

Photo of Vidhya Shanker
Team

This is lovely--and forest restoration/ resiliency is part of our work through Ta-Valema Learning Lab. Please let us know if there are ways we can work together--our idea is on this platform and our website is www.slfnd.org.

Photo of Ezra Jay
Team

Hi Vidhya,
Cool looking project. We would love to work with you.

If you are planting as an organization, you can have someone locate your trees with our smartphone app (Link below) and we can generate a map for you that you can embed on your website. This can be useful as a verification tool if you are directly fundraising for tree planting efforts. If you are collecting donations for trees, we supply links to trees that specific donors have supported.

We can also directly employ people who are planting. If you have "village environmentalist" this can work by sending them out to locate their trees. Then we link these trees to organizations/donors that are collecting funds for planting and we pay the planters directly. (The rates we are currently working with is USD 0.035 cents/tree/month for the first two years) We have been working in East Africa, where we send money to planters directly via Mpesa (a local mobile money service) but not so sure how this works in West Africa.

Here is a link to our app, this is all you need to get started https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.greenstand.android.TreeTracker&hl=en
(If you need a translated version, we are able to make that happen.)

Here is an example of a treemap www.treetracker.org