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December 14, 2023

FireAlert App monitors forest areas larger than Brazil

Since June this year, Plant-for-the-Planet has introduced the FireAlert App. It provides free and real-time wildfire notifications based on NASA satellite data directly to smartphones. It is one of Plant-for-the-Planet’s contributions to the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration.

The app has been well-received: six months after its launch, it has been installed over 1450 times and used to monitor an area exceeding 894 million hectares – larger than the size of Brazil (851 million hectares)!

The FireAlert App allows restoration organizations, municipalities, or individuals worldwide to detect and combat wildfires more rapidly. Especially in regions without a professional early warning system, the app provides significant value. It utilizes NASA satellite data and was developed by our in-house software team. Alerts are sent directly to smartphones, an improvement over NASA’s email alerts. The FireAlert App is available in the Google Play Store and the App Store.

Why is Plant-for-the-Planet committed to fighting wildfires?

Wildfires are devastating in two senses: On the one hand, the cooling function of forests is lost, and on the other, additional CO₂ is released. For restoration organizations, wildfires represent a hard setback. Because the fight against the climate crisis is also a race against time. The United Nations predicts that the risk of forest fires will increase significantly due to the climate crisis. Extreme fires, such as those that recently occurred in Canada, California or southern Europe, would occur about a third more frequently by 2050, and as much as 50 percent more frequently by the end of the century. More investment in prevention and early detection is needed, according to a paper published in 2022 by the UN Environment Agency.

“The climate crisis is fueling wildfires, and with them our planet’s natural air conditioning systems are burning. In many places, early warning systems don’t even exist yet. With our FireAlert app, we give the public a simple and free tool to act quickly in case of wildfires. The app thus contributes to climate protection and supports firefighters in their often life-threatening mission,” says Felix Finkbeiner, founder of Plant-for-the-Planet. He co-developed the app primarily to help fight forest fires on project sites in Mexico, Ghana and Spain, where Plant-for-the-Planet is restoring degraded forest ecosystems. 

Mohammed Rabiu Dannakabu, Chairman of Plant-for-the-Planet Ghana, uses the app to combat forest fires on restoration sites in Ghana.

Mohammed Rabiu Dannakabu, Chairman of Plant-for-the-Planet Ghana, appreciates this new tool: “The climate crisis is increasing the frequency and intensity of bushfires in Ghana’s savanna ecosystem – where we are already dealing with long-lasting droughts. Until now, we had no early warning system for fire detection in our project area. Thanks to the FireAlert app, we can now fight bushfires faster. This way, we preserve the valuable biodiversity and ecosystem of the savannah.”

Plant-for-the-Planet’s FireAlert app contributes to the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, a global initiative led by the UN Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The UN Decade, which runs from 2021 to 2030, aims to combat the loss and degradation of ecosystems worldwide by mobilizing political support, scientific research and financial resources.

Further restoration tools by Plant-for-the-Planet

With the FireAlert app, Plant-for-the-Planet offers another piece in the establishment of a complete toolkit that organizations can use to restore forest ecosystems. Plant-for-the-Planet already provides:

  • The Plant-for-the-Planet Platform ensures transparency and brings donors and restoration and forest protection organizations together.
  • The TreeMapper App is used to monitor the plants.
  • The Advice Team offers free advice on selecting restoration strategies and tree species.