About 22 years ago I sat in a church and listened to local activists from a national pressure group plan a campaign where they would give out sweets to commuters at the railway station to thank them for using low carbon transport. I couldn’t think of anything more pointless, smug or downright embarrassing, so I left and promptly joined the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, where, amongst many other ecological tasks, I planted at least 400 trees. This sums up my whole approach to Sustainability – leave the virtue signalling to others and go and do something practical.
So you can imagine my delight when I read this morning that tree planting is one of the most cost-effective ways of tackling climate change. The perception of natural carbon capture and storage has been a little up and down over the years. So I always reassured myself that if ‘my’ 400 trees weren’t sucking up some, if not all, of my lifestyle’s carbon footprint, then at least they were providing habitats to enhance biodiversity, improving air quality and boosting flood protection. But hearing that they are indeed absorbing up to a tonne of carbon each is even better.
The other thing about tree planting is that it is very satisfying. I know of several organisations (of widely different sizes) who began their employee engagement for Sustainability by encouraging volunteers to create nature gardens onsite. This will not only give them a hands-on feel for the natural world, but improve the mental health of both the volunteers and users of the garden (make sure benches for lunchtime sandwich eating are provided!)
A Sustainability Strategy I’m currently working on requires at least one biodiversity feature at every site to hardwire some nature into people’s lives – and hopefully soak up some carbon too. Given the variety of sites the organisation operates from, the feature could range from an insect hotel to a full on nature garden. We’re not factoring this into the carbon reduction targets – any sequestration will be a bonus!
Tress are one of those few environmental solutions which have multiple benefits and no substantial downside – I can think of cycling and few other examples! So, can you get some more trees in your life?