Sustainability Questions

3 sustainability questions to Dr Gesa Biermann, Co-founder & CEO of Pina Earth

Posted on
March 14, 2023
Dr Gesa Birmann
Dr Gesa Birmann
Founder and CEO of Pina Earth
Editorial Team

How does your project helps fighting climate change? And what makes you unique in the way you are doing so?

At Pina Earth, our mission is to protect our forests by quantifying and rewarding sustainable forestry. Why? Forests are important carbon sinks. Nearly 45% of European land is covered by forests, which absorb a significant amount of carbon emissions. However, European forests are endangered by the consequences of climate change already today. With increasing severity and frequency of storms, droughts, and pests, especially monocultures — which make up a large part of our forests — have difficulties withstanding these challenges. If we want to prevent these carbon sinks from turning into carbon sources, we have to ensure that they will last for the next decades. The solution is to convert at-risk monoculture forests into climate-resilient biodiverse forests. By planting diverse tree species and rejuvenating the forests, we not only make sure that climate-mortality declines, but also increase the carbon sequestration potential in the long-run.

This is what makes Pina Earth’s approach unique: our focus lies on adapting existing forests to climate change. To do so, we combine AI-based modeling, scientific research, and forest data to simulate forest growth under climate change 30 years into the future. Based on forest inventory data, we create a digital twin of the forest. These data form the basis for calculating the carbon sink potential of the project. Using scientific models, we project forest development without changes in forest management (“business as usual scenario”) and with the planned forest adaptation (“project scenario”) under the effects of climate change. The difference between these two projections equals the additional carbon sequestration capacity and thus the number of carbon credits that the project can issue.

In this way, Pina Earth digitalizes the manual certification process of forest adaptation projects, increases carbon credit quality and turns monocultures into biodiverse mixed forests.

How can you recommend to bridge the gap between a very complex topic and the need to raise awareness and convince everyone to feel empowered for change?

Clear communication makes a big difference and helps to build trust and empower people. The more landowners understand our methodology, the more they feel empowered to collaborate with us. And the more aware companies are about the necessity of making our regional forests climate resilient, the more willing they are to support this process. At the moment, we are in the process of accrediting our forest adaptation methodology under the “Wald-Klimastandard” — the first German standard to certify forest ecosystem services. A part of this process is a “public consultation” — as the name says a process to involve the general public and ask for feedback. For this process, we drafted detailed documents describing our methodology and the scientific research behind it. To reduce the complexity of the topic, we further held public webinars to explain our concept. By making our reasoning public and understandable, we hope to engage our stakeholder groups actively and learn from their feedback. If you’re interested to learn more, please find all the materials here (in German).

Next to leveraging the power of technology to reach the needed scale of climate action, another big lever is partnerships. We’re happy to count SQUAKE amongst our partners now, too. This partnership will unlock new opportunities to amplify our message and to empower regional climate action from sustainability-focused companies.

Why are regional climate protection projects in Germany and Europe so important?

The fight against climate change is a global effort that needs worldwide attention. Regional climate projects in Europe are a critical part of these global efforts to mitigate climate change. We have a responsibility to account for our greenhouse gas emissions where they originate and to increase the resilience of our unique local ecosystems. To do so, we need a portfolio of various project types, including technology-based and nature-based solutions, carbon removal and avoidance projects, renewable energy, water management, and forest projects, among others. All of them, of course, need to be effective in delivering the climate impact they promise.

Pina Earth’s forest adaptation projects are a critical part of these efforts. As mentioned earlier, almost half of European land is covered by forests. In Germany, it’s approximately one third. Because of the increasing pressure of climate change, 3 million hectares of forests in Germany need to be adapted to withstand the challenges.

Compared to forest conservation, afforestation, or reforestation, forest adaptation is a project type specifically targeted to the needs of our regional forest ecosystems. Other project types do not try to save the forest that we (still) have from climate change. It’s like building a new single-family home (afforestation — expensive and smaller areas) or leaving swaying old skyscrapers to their own devices (conservation of at-risk monocultures) instead of refurbishing them (forest adaptation). While afforestation is an important lever to fight climate change, many European countries have high population densities and not many areas available for large new forests.

That’s why our work at Pina Earth focuses on developing regional climate projects to fight climate change in Europe!


Dr. Gesa Biermann is co-founder & CEO of Pina Earth, a climatetech startup based in Germany and supported by Y Combinator. Pina Earth offers high-quality carbon credits from local forests to transition monocultures into climate-resilient mixed forests. Gesa holds a PhD in Sustainability Science from LMU Munich and a Master’s in Sustainable Resource Management from TU Munich. Prior to founding Pina Earth, she co-founded 180 Degrees Consulting Munich and was part of the Management Team at the Center of Digital Technology and Management (CDTM) — a joint research and educational institute of LMU and TUM.

Climate Change

Nature Based Solutions