the Trees Versus Diesel Challenge :: an update…

Hawkish connoisseurs of this blog will doubtless have noticed, given that the raison d’être of this blog was to see whether I could outbike-my-car, miles-wise, in 2019, and on achieving this that my 2020 target was to carbon-neutralise the year’s car miles – since I had counted them, after all – that I have been remarkably quiet on updating you all about how said neutralisation was going.

The carbon calculator I used had told me that I’d need to plant between 5 and 6 trees, and that they’d have to stay planted and alive for 40 years, in order to offset 4852 miles in a small diesel car. The planting of 5 or 6 trees sounds like the easy bit – right?

Wrong! When you don’t own the house you live in you can’t just go planting trees in the garden and my workplace have so far been unenthusiastic for my idea to plant trees on the grounds, because who is going to maintain those trees when I’m no longer there?

Luckily, I did get chance to get my hands muddy this courtesy of Friends of Coves Community Nature Reserve, a community group hell-bent on re-naturing an area of 48 hectares within the Greenock and Gourock area of Inverclyde. On a sunny Saturday in August I joined a clutch of maybe 30 volunteers in the reserve, where we planted up a hedgerow of rowan hawthorn and dogwood overseen by the indefatigable Marie, a wildlife Wonderwoman who managed to direct us motley lot while providing snacks, tutorials on how to use the tools and a scientific explanation of the biochar material she’d been lovingly nurturing the saplings in at home.

I probably managed to plant 8 or 9 of those hedgerow trees… but will they still be alive in 40 years’ time, and would they have been planted anyway, whether I had travelled there to plant them or not? 🤔

Another group doing good things for rewilding and carbon offsetting, is the Woodland Trust. Their website is full of good advice about how to plant which trees and where, and how to look after them. They also provide links to community groups who may have acquired woodland for the purposes of biodiversification and community benefit. I’ve been donating to the Woodland Trust since January, but I don’t know how many trees that means have been planted that otherwise wouldn’t have been.

It’s difficult to ascertain how much you’d have to fundraise to raise a tree through a 40-year lifespan. The John Muir Trust claims to plant and protect a tree in a wild wood in a Scottish location for £15. Another Scottish woodland charity, Trees for Life, suggests it’s £17.99 for the certificate to say you’ve sponsored a tree, and then £6 thereafter for every tree you wish to plant. Can it really be that inexpensive to raise a tree? I guess if I struggle to find opportunities to plant my own before 2020 is out, then I can kill two birds with one stone and have Christmas sorted by gifting everyone a tree… 🎄

If you have any suggestions for how I can meet my tree-planting target, please add them in the comments box below!

19 October, 2020

The Community Woodlands Association: support the work and aspirations of community woodlands groups across Scotland

Friends of Cove Community Nature Reserve: a volunteer-led group who have had a large hand in the turnaround of the Coves Reservoir nature area in Inverclyde. They plant trees and other wildlife but they also encourage diverse communities to use the space, ID the wild species in the reserve, pick litter, remove dog poop…

The John Muir Trust: a charitable trust engaged in management of wild land in Scotland, including the summit of the mighty Ben Nevis, and the staggering Cuillin range in Skye (we’ve been there!).

Trees for Life: sponsor a tree to re-wild the Scottish Highland. This conservation charity have planted almost 2 million trees in 44 sites across Scotland. You can sponsor an individual tree, or an entire grove!

Woodland Trust: a UK-based charity that plants trees, restores woodland, and raises awareness of the importance of trees in climate change. As part of the Big Climate Fightback, they’re aiming to plant 50 million trees in five years

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