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Does Lil Green Patch Actually Save the Rainforest?

Lil' Green PatchOne of the most popular Facebook applications is called (Lil) Green Patch.  As of April, it was the 6th most popular application on Facebook.  The application is a little game, where you have a pretend "garden" that you tend to.  You can send your friends things to plant in their garden, such as an apple tree or flowers.

The graphics are fun and cute, and according to the application's creators, for every 10 plants you send to your friends, you save 1 square foot of rainforest.

How does it work?  Apparently all of the revenue from the ads that show up on the application goes towards rainforest rescue.  In the first quarter of 2008, (Lil) Green Patch users raised over $15,000 in donations.  This is enough to save more than 13,600,000 square feet of rainforest and in December 2008 the number of users of the application was reportedly 6.3 million.

In spite of these claims, there is little confirmation of any rainforest actually being saved.  Their website offers no information.  Wikipedia also says that there's no public accounting of the money raised, where the foundation is, or how the money raised has been spent.

I had been scouring the internet trying to find out the story about whether or not (Lil) Green Patch is legit.  What I did learn is that they are a top donor for Nature Conservancy's Adopt an Acre program.  You can view the donation here.  It says they have donated $210,000. Finally, I contacted the Nature Conservatory for confirmation and they confirmed that (Lil) Green Patch does indeed donate money proportionate to the activity on their application.

Also, according to a thread on Facebook, an employee of the Nature Conservancy said:
"Every time (Lil) Green Patch donates $50, another 43,560 gets added to the total they're helping to protect as the cost to adopt an acre is $50 and there's 43,560 square feet in an acre."

So, it looks like (Lil) Green Patch CAN save the rainforest.  If you're into Facebook apps like that, go ahead and play and raise some money to help save the rainforest.  Or, if you're like me and you think the frequent requests for the application are extraordinarily annoying, you can just donate directly to the Adopt an Acre program.

Interested in more eco-friendly Facebook applications?  US News has a list of 8.