A pioneer in nature-based carbon dioxide removals


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Thursday 20 April 2023 15:01 BST

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Business Reporter Treeo

After seven years of tree-planting experience in Indonesia and Uganda with the NGO Fairventures Worldwide (FVW), there was one challenge that kept coming up: how can we accurately measure and report our impact back to our team, partners and donors?

You might have read about how many trees we need to plant worldwide to remove a certain amount of CO2 from our atmosphere. But the number of trees is not enough. Where are these numbers coming from, and can we trust them? How can we scale up carbon dioxide removals (CDR) and make reforestation profitable for tree growers?

As a solution to this challenge, TREEO | Fairventures Digital GmbH was founded in 2021 as the tech spinoff of FVW. Three years before establishing TREEO, we won the Google Impact Challenge Germany 2018 for our single-tree monitoring solution. This helped kickstart a journey where forestry and technology work together to scale carbon dioxide removals while improving the livelihoods of tree growers worldwide.

Carbon dioxide removals

Common climate mitigation actions focus on merely avoiding and reducing CO2 emissions. Although this is necessary, it’s no longer enough to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius. Actively removing CO2 from the air (often termed “negative emissions”) is no longer a “nice-to-have”, but, as stated by the IPCC, a necessary measure if we want to achieve the 1.5 to 2°C goal.

We started developing the TREEO App in 2018, and in 2021 the US and the EU began working on regulations of climate solutions which now promote CDR more than ever before. Several technological approaches are being developed for CDR, but we cannot just sit and wait. The one option that is readily available and scalable today is trees! And we have developed a way to track, tree by tree, their CO2 sequestration by species, while giving tree growers in the Global South access to the carbon market.

The TREEO way

The TREEO carbon product can be split into two main steps: carbon capture and carbon storage. Trees capture CO2 from our atmosphere and store it as carbon while releasing the oxygen we breathe. We then guarantee the carbon is stored in the long term with timber construction and biochar, a form of carbon that can be used to improve soil fertility.

At TREEO we work to reforest and restore degraded land, working hand-in-hand with farmers and tree growers – who retain their land rights – so that they can reap the benefits of reforestation and agroforestry directly. Besides the positive climate impact, our projects have biodiversity and socioeconomic co-benefits as well.

Through the TREEO technology, we empower tree growers in the Global South to supply high-quality carbon dioxide removals at scale and help them capitalise on their carbon equity. Our balancers (companies on the path to Net Zero) contribute to the climate financing of these nature-based solutions, while tree growers collect monitoring data from every single tree through the TREEO app.

The TREEO app calculates the biomass and carbon stored by each tree through image processing and machine learning for each species with a 95 per cent accuracy. Combined with enhanced satellite data, TREEO ensures verified carbon removals. This directly involves and benefits the farmers, provides data-based advice and a traceable impact of long-term carbon storage that guarantee accurate and transparent carbon removals for companies.

We then follow the timber value chain to ensure carbon is stored in the long term. The construction sector is responsible for 40 per cent of global CO2 emissions. Timber construction has huge potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, store carbon in the built environment and thus contribute positively to the climate crisis. Through timber construction and biochar we can guarantee carbon is captured for decades, even centuries.

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