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Plant a tree, save the planet: The Kiwis taking tech to the forest

16 Oct 2020

Trees help us breathe, they help keep the air clean - and when we cut them down, they’re used to build all kinds of different things. But the truth is, we’re pretty good at cutting down more trees than we plant, leaving some pretty bare and ugly patches around the country.

That’s where an Auckland lawyer called Nick Muir comes in. He wanted to create and share a way for people to make a long-lasting and sustainable contribution to the environment. Those contributions would help to prevent the planet from being wrecked.

“We're all in this together and share the same future on this planet. We've designed the app so that anyone anywhere can do their part in protecting our earth,” says Muir.

Muir founded a non-profit enterprise called TreeTime, which enables people to plant trees and then track the progress of their tree’s growth. 

This is all done through an app. It allows people to buy a tree and then uses planting coordinates and a unique ‘BarkCode’ to keep people updated about their tree. 

The team is currently exploring what type of tree it will select for planting - Douglas Fir was originally on the cards, but the team decided that a native tree would be a better choice.

Muir is currently working with two firms, Qual IT and transformative, to develop the app. The app calculates daily the level of carbon dioxide the user’s tree has absorbed and references that in-app to everyday human carbon dioxide emissions, like driving cars and eating animal products. 

He wants to make TreeTime even better by adding drone technology that surveys planted forests and takes photos of every contributor’s tree. 

The aim is to share TreeTime photos with each app user every six months.

“We have exclusive access to unique geo-positioning software which will enable app users to follow the journey of their unique trees – TreeTime supporters will know exactly where their contribution is going and receive regular updates on the growth of the tree,” Muir explains.

Those who decide to sponsor a tree might wonder if their tree will ever face a chainsaw, but TreeTime reassures people that such a fate will never occur. 

"Once we plant your trees, we will register a covenant on the title of the land prohibiting the felling of the tree. What this means is that the tree can never be legally cut down, by TreeTime or anyone else. Due to the strong rule of law in New Zealand, you can have a high level of assurance that the legal status of the tree will be protected in perpetuity."