Empowering people to make better, more sustainable and more transparent forest projects. It’s a goal that Germany-based company OpenForests pursues through explorer.land, an online platform that is changing the ways in which investors, donors and landscape developers communicate. Their recently launched Story Mapping app is making it even easier for companies and individuals to see the positive impact of their donations.
Founded in 2011, OpenForests develops tools to connect people and forests. In its mission to make sustainable landscape projects more social, resilient and transparent, the company provides a host of different forest management tools, such as drone image processing, satellite data acquisition, and performance tracking and presentation.
On their website, OpenForests points out the challenge of transparent communication between landscape project managers and financial supporters. Successful communication requires a clear overview of up-to-date information about forest restoration and protection projects, as well as their impacts.
Sharing a story
The explorer.land platform provides project managers with the tools to visualize all relevant information and data, allowing them to “share their landscape story”. Users can easily draw maps and indicate key sites in the project area. They can upload their own satellite or drone photography to show how the project area develops over time, and highlight both positive and negative impacts on the site’s physical and social aspects. Information and updates about projects across the globe is collected in a Google Maps-like web tool, which is open to everyone.
“We believe that explorer.land will cause a substantial paradigm shift in the way sustainable forest and landscape projects are presented to the world,” says Dr. Patrick Ribeiro, co-founder and CEO of OpenForests. “The new level of visibility and transparency will accelerate networking, improve market access and help built trustworthy relations with stakeholders.”
Last month, the new Story Mapping app was launched to enable users to share stories straight from the project site. The app features a newsreader that allows stakeholders to stay up-to-date on project developments and scroll through photo galleries to take a look at the site. Registered users can publish their own geolocated articles to inform investors and donors on how their contributions are making a change. Examples range from the disclosure of carbon payments in a carbon offsetting project on Sumatra, to insights in the supply chain of sustainable Guatemalan chocolate.
For OpenForests, it’s all about enabling project managers to build lasting relations with their supporters through a high degree of transparency and authenticity. The platform allows projects to attract new customers, donors, and investors, while organizations and companies can use their sponsorship status to align their marketing with the impact that their donations have.
“explorer.land has changed the way one can tell stories of forest landscape projects. We can tell stories on top of an interactive map and over time”, says Alexander Watson, co-founder and one of the company’s CEOs. “People who feel connected with the project, its community and vision are highly motivated and can understand how they could support.”
With clients on four different continents, OpenForests envisions “forest landscapes in which people, families and small to medium organizations are connected with their land while having a sustainable income now and for generations to come.”