BERLIN, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Ecosia GmbH, a German online search engine which uses a share of its profits to plant trees, has made a formal offer on Tuesday to buy the contested Hambach forest in North Rhine-Westphalia from energy provider RWE.
Genica Schaefgen, Ecosia country manager for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, told press that her company was willing to pay more than a million euros for the remaining 200 hectares of woodland in Hambach. A letter detailing the offer which is valid until the end of the month was faxed to RWE chief executive (CEO) Rolf Martin Schmitz on Tuesday morning.
The Hambach forest forms part of a property owned by RWE which comprises the world's largest open pit brown coal mine. The Essen-based company plans to begin cutting down a further 100 out of 200 hectares of remaining woodland shortly and has argued that the step is necessary to ensure national energy supply.
Although RWE has already obtained government approval to use the Hambach site for its brown coal mining activities, it has been confronted with long-standing protests from local residents and environmental activists.
In a statement published online, Christian Kroll, CEO of Ecosia, said that the search engine's users had been vocal on the subject of finding a way to permanently save the Hambach Forest from legal "limbo land".
"If we lose the Hambach Forest and RWE continues to expand its lignite mining, Germany will struggle to meet the Paris Climate Agreement goals and a priceless natural wonder will have been lost," Kroll warned.
"By purchasing the area, we think that a fair balance of interests can be found between RWE and the population in this fashion, and commit ourselves to pursue ecological and societal interests together with organizations which were engaged in efforts to protect the forest and are dedicated to environmental protection," the German press agency (dpa) cited the letter sent by Ecosia to RWE read.
Ecosia estimates that RWE paid a sum equivalent to around 500,000 euros (573,000 U.S. dollars) when it first purchased the Hambach forest in the 1970s.
Ecosia, a Berlin-based not-for-profit search engine, has gained around eight million global users since its founding in 2009, according to the company. It donates at least 80 percent of its profits from search engine activity to reforestation projects. Enditem