Google has ended the briefest of relationships with a German-based company that runs the eco-friendly search engine Forestle.org.

The independent non-profit search engine donated money to saving patches of rainforest with every search, but Google complained that the site offered "incentives to click artificially on sponsored links". Forestle begs to differ and is hoping to be reactivated. The site was launched on 25 August.

Forestle counters Google's claim by saying that not only does it not offer incentives to click on sponsored links or ads, but it specifically warns against it. At the top of each page it posts the warning: "You harm Forestle, Google, and the advertising websites with artificial clicking."

Forestle delivered its results through Google and, bar administration costs, gave all of its money from sponsored links to The Nature Conservancy's Adopt an Acre Program. With 0.1 square yards of rainforest saved with each search, founder Christian Kroll said: 'Within our testing phase we already saved more than 15,000 square yards of rainforest."

Transparent accounting

At start up, admin costs made up only five per cent of its total income and Forestle promised to post its financial results on the site. From a users point of view, the search engine offered most of the advantages of Google except for the absence of links to other Google services such as Gmail, iGoogle, or Google Calendar. That said Maps and Image Search are linked up. Forestle had plug-ins that work with Firefox, Safari and Opera.

Forestle's home page announces: "In our opinion, Google ended the partnership, because Forestle became too successful." It's now asking users to support its reinstatement, and for the time being, to use Znout as a search engine. Znout is eco-friendly in that it reduces energy use on your computer by using less energy-draining black backgrounds, and eco servers. Znout has similar plug-in options to Forestle for using it as one of your browser's available search engines.

TechRadar will keep you up to date with any further developments in the dispute.