Monitoring of tree-planting projects

To make sure your trees survive we have a thorough monitoring process in place, so that we can understand tree-planting efforts better. This article will showcase the different techniques and data points we use to monitor our tree-planting projects.

Our tree team and how we account for your trees

Reported data from our planting partners

As part of our contractual agreements, our tree planting partners send us regular reporting of the project. This includes monitoring data such as geo-tagged photos, location coordinates, as well as information on the trees such as their height, diameters, species and density of trees growing on site. We also use satellite imagery to monitor projects remotely. Our partners on the ground update data via a mobile app called Akvo. 

In addition to actually planting the trees and making sure they survive, it is also essential to ensure that there is no incentive to cut them down. We integrate this approach into every project from day one. Find out more in this article about our planting approaches.

Site visits 

We conduct regular site visits to monitor the progress of our partners. These are done by a local auditor that we hire, or by our own tree team. These visits are not only about monitoring and cross checking the data that is being sent to us, but also great ways to solidify partnerships, and gain a first hand account and understanding of the project on the ground. It also allows us to identify challenges and opportunities, as well as provide any on site training that may be needed. 

We also take you to the field with us with our monthly tree update on youtube.

Monitoring by counting

On smaller sites where there are very few trees planted, it is as simple as counting them and reporting the number of trees, along with the species, and average height of trees on the site. 
If the site has hundreds or thousands of trees, and these are spread out in a heterogeneous manner around the site it would take much too long to count each tree one by one. 

Monitoring by density sampling 

There are various sampling methods used out there, at Ecosia, we normally use a density sampling technique called the point-centered quadrat method (PCQ).
In our Tree Update 36 | In Madagascar, we illustrate how we apply PCQ. Moreover, we have shared information on how we manually count your trees when we’re visiting a planting site in person in our Tree Update 37 | How Ecosia counts trees

Remote Sensing Monitoring

Remote sensing allows us to analyze planting sites from far away using satellite images. Remote sensing models have indeed come a long way and can provide some interesting information, but the reality in the ground is often much more complex. We are still a long way away from remote sensing technologie being able to fully replace on site monitoring. 
In our Tree Update 30 | How we work with our partners, we show how we use satellite imagery and other technologies to monitor changes in a landscape.  
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