Forests are fantastic. They not only absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. But they also create cooling cloud cover that reflects sunlight back into space as well. Certainly, sustainable forests are effective against climate change.
As carbon offsetting falls out of favor, tree planting has become one of the most popular ways for people to help save the planet. As a result, there are thousands of impact partners looking to use your money for a good cause.
However, not all schemes produce the same results. Before you jump into any tree planting project, be sure to check the credentials of your providers to make sure your donations are having the maximum impact.
Here are our top tips for checking if a tree planting project is truly helpful:
Gauge the additional impact of new trees
Is the tree going to be planted solely because of you? Or are you a last-minute addition?
Often tree planters do not have carbon capture as their primary goal but use it as a way to boost funding. Take the agro-forestry industry as an example. Although your money may contribute to the planting of a tree in an orchard, the primary goal of the business is to generate revenue from selling fruit. And it’s likely that the trees would have been planted with or without your financial contribution.
Of course it’s great to plant trees and know that they will store carbon as an added bonus. However, if your contribution in not resulting in additional trees. You’re better off placing your money in a project with potential regeneration impact.
Conservation plans = sustainable forests
Thanks to the global emphasis on emissions reductions, whole industries have emerged dedicated to carbon offsetting. These organisations plant trees and sell the carbon credits to businesses.
Unfortunately, this approach overlooks the entire life-cycle of forests. Forestry companies will claim the carbon credits on planted trees, only to cut down the trees once they reach maturity and sell the timber. Even though the tree did a good job of storing carbon dioxide during its life-cycle, its long-term benefits have been cut short.
An even worse scenario is when a forest goes up in flames. All of that good work will go to waste, releasing stored CO2 back into the atmosphere. As forest fires become more of a regular threat around the world, the agro-forestry companies need to have resilient conservation plans. Sustainable forests are a sure way to keep carbon locked away in trees.
Review ongoing impact
Trees continue growing, so are the carbon-reduction gifts that keep on giving. The trees that your donations support will carry on storing carbon and helping the planet heal. You want to be able to watch this progress, right?
Some sustainability providers can be loose with the truth. You could be buying a stock photo of a tree and a pin on Google Maps. And in some cases, third parties absorb up to 80% of your donation, limiting the potential impact.
However, new technology is making it much easier to track your donation and follow its growing impact. Look for providers that link your contributions to transparent metrics.
Tree planting is one of the most inspiring ways to help protect our planet. And at Handprint, we connect businesses to restoration projects with impact on the planet. Users can track how their donations are being used in real-time and watch how their positive impact grows over time. They can also share and embed this data via their own channels.
Join the regeneration generation today. To find out how you or your company can grow with the planet, try out Handprint’s Regenerative Target Calculator.