Carbon offsetting with Avon Needs Trees
For companies and individuals who are genuinely embracing change but recognise that there are still emissions for which they are directly or indirectly responsible, off-setting is the best option (see below for more information).
Off-setting with Avon Needs Trees offers both ‘additionality’ (it is unlikely these areas would be reforested without the charity) and ‘visibility’ (unlike many off-setting schemes, companies and individuals can see the progress first hand!)
According to the Woodland Code, a new forest will sequester 300 – 400 tonnes of CO2 per hectare over fifty years, and 400 – 500 tonnes over a hundred years.
An average UK citizen is responsible for 9 – 15 tonnes of CO2 per year.
How much money will offset a tonne of CO2?
All calculations are complicated – particularly for sites such as Hazeland and Seend where we have woodland and hedgerows to protect and manage, as well as land to re-wild and replant. In addition, we need to ensure we are planting at a density that allows maximum benefit to wildlife, and also public access.
For new planting at Seend, and to acquire the land to make this permanent, the calculation is:
£50 buys 20 square metres, which will build and store 1 tonne of CO2 permanently
If comparing to other off-setting sites, remember than carbon dioxide is 3.67 times as heavy as carbon. Many sites confuse the two.
We hope that both companies and individuals will realise that there is no exact equation and support the spirit, rather than the letter, of this initiative. We believe this calculation is as accurate as it can be – not just an acceptable cheap tax on emissions to raise funds…
Auditing and compliance for companies
Avon Needs Trees can offer auditing of carbon stocks. Please contact us here to discuss.
Our carbon budget: it’s critical
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5 degrees report tells us that in January 2018 we had a ‘carbon budget’ of only 420 gigatonnes, a tonnage of greenhouse gases that if emitted, will bring global temperatures to an average of 1.5˚C.
Above 1.5˚C, scientists tell us that our ability to control what happens to our climate will be extremely limited.
This gives us (in summer 2019) approximately 8.5 years. To avoid going over 1.5˚C we must reach carbon neutrality within that time. Our emissions from fossil fuel combustion, cement production and land use must stop, or be cancelled out by locking equal amounts, in real time, into our ‘carbon sinks’ – our soil and trees.
It is essential that we all face this challenge and act swiftly.
However, Avon Needs Trees recognises that it is difficult for companies and individuals to change all the structures of our economy immediately. We are all, in a sense, ‘on a journey’ – but it’s more of a race….
Why use trees to off-set?
The wonderful thing about trees is that they take CO2 from the air to build their roots and branches – and this carbon is then locked away for the lifetime of the tree. The Forestry Commission calculates that the average hectare of woodland in the UK sequesters 800 tonnes of CO2 in biomass over its life-time.
However, the protected soil beneath the trees is even more important. Soil carbon can be three to four times the carbon actually in the trees, added to every autumn when the leaves drop.
We need more trees in the UK
The UK is the most deforested country in Europe, with just 13% cover compared to the European average of 37%.
Although our government has a stated ambition to increase the level of forest to 16% over the next few decades, the Committee on Climate Change has pointed out that we are far from achieving the 30,000 hectares of annual new planting that we need to reach even this goal.
UK’s tree crisis linked to our biodiversity crisis
Much of the loss of our birds, small mammals and insects is closely linked to the UK’s loss of tree cover and scrub. As Benedict Macdonald writes in his 2019 book ‘Rebirding’, ‘Today Britain faces the fastest woodland bird declines, and the most imminent woodland bird extinctions, of any European country’. As he points out, this is not because of urban sprawl or lack of space, it is our ‘rural deserts’ that are the main problem. We have left no natural, uncontaminated habitat for nature in our countryside.
To have any hope of safeguarding some of our most endangered and iconic species – such as the nightingale and horseshoe bats, hedgehogs, frogs and toads – we need to provide habitat and food. This means insects. ‘Having eliminated the top end of the food chain centuries ago,’ writes Macdonald, ‘we are very close to wiping out life at the bottom.’ Our use of chemical sprays, our farming of monocultures at scale, and our repeated destruction of soil structure (through ploughing and use of heavy machinery) is killing off the web of life on which we depend.
We need more woodlands and scrub, with naturally building soils, intersected with glades and rides to provide habitat for forest-edge creatures. Mosaics of habitat will ensure that the insect and small-creature world, on which we depend, has a chance of survival.