Cactus Energy is joining forces with Creating Tomorrow’s Forests. We are thrilled to be embarking on this new partnership because it’s going to enable us to tackle the emissions associated with our own products and services. Installing renewable technology has already enabled our customers to massively reduce their carbon footprint, but now we’re helping them go one step further…
Thanks to Creating Tomorrow’s Forests, every Cactus Energy installation now comes with the guarantee that all emissions associated with its production and transportation will be fully offset. At no additional cost to our customers. We’re supporting forest regeneration right here in the UK, so our customers can even go and visit the very trees they helped to plant!
However, Creating Tomorrow’s Forests do so much more than just plant trees. They create complex and diverse ecosystems that will survive and thrive for years to come, helping local and global communities in numerous ways. Having planted almost 8 million trees in the last six years, you could say they are something of experts on the subject. They are guided by science, choosing and designing sites to deliver the greatest possible environmental benefits.
How Do They Do It?
To ensure maximum benefit, Creating Tomorrow’s Forests expertly design and create diverse woodland areas using a combination of expert knowledge, evidence-based methods and careful management. This involves…
> Initial surveys to assess the history, characteristics and existing biodiversity of a site.
> Scientific research to inform the location, timing and species of trees planted.
> Planting methods that ensure maximum carbon storage potential.
> Knowledge of which species of trees grow best in different parts of the UK.
> High-quality native species tailored to the local ecology.
> Long-term management methods to ensure that the woodlands survive and thrive.
And they don’t stop there. As well as growing trees, the planters at Creating Tomorrow’s Forests sow flower mixes to create ground layer vegetation. They also build additional habitats such as ponds, wildflower meadows, bat boxes, bird boxes, hibernacula (homes for amphibians and reptiles) and insect refuges.
Sounds like they’ve got a good thing going, doesn’t it? In fact, this work is absolutely critical to ensure the preservation of our environment and, ultimately, the survival of our own species. Let’s take a closer look at why…
How Does Planting Trees Save the Planet?
In order to reduce global warming and avoid devastating climate change, we need to significantly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Our previous blog – ‘What Actually IS Climate Change?’ – explains why. An important part of cutting carbon emissions is producing fewer of them in the first place. Shifting from fossil-fuel based power sources to renewable energy is the most impactful way to do this.
However, we can also look to nature to take existing carbon out of the atmosphere. All plants naturally absorb CO2 from the air during photosynthesis so that they can store it and use it for growth. Some of that carbon is returned to the atmosphere during respiration but some of it is used to make materials stored permanently in the plant’s biomass. Overall, plants take in more CO2 than they give out.
This process of locking away carbon is known as ‘carbon sequestering’. Therefore, by planting more trees we are essentially increasing the planet’s capacity to store carbon out of the atmosphere.
Forests go one step further. They actually store more carbon than is contained in their individual trees. Carbon is also held in the leaves that fall off the trees and in the soil underneath them.
In fact, a recent study estimated that forests could store up to 25% of existing atmospheric carbon. That is HUGE in terms of tackling climate change. This is why you might have heard forests being referred to as ‘carbon sinks’ and why deforestation is so damaging.
Interestingly, new forests sequester more carbon than existing forests, as competition between young plants stimulates faster growth. Based on this evidence, Creating Tomorrow’s Forests always try to plant in areas with no existing tree cover. The fact that they plant in the UK is also highly significant as the UK actually has the lowest level of woodland cover in Europe – just 13%, compared to a European average of 46%.
Why Is Biodiversity Important?
If an ecosystem is ‘biodiverse’, it means that it is varied. There are several factors that feed into this, but containing a large number of different species is a key aspect of it.
Primarily, biodiversity is important because it makes ecosystems more stable (more likely to survive). How? Different species in an ecosystem interact with each other constantly, for example for food, shelter and even reproduction. The more species there are, the more they can compensate for each other in the event of one being lost due to environmental change, invasive organisms or disease.
Maintaining biodiversity in forests isn’t just important in order to protect plant and animal species in their own right. Humans need forest ecosystems to be stable too, because we rely on them for things like food, water, medicine and flood defence. There is also a proven link between exposure to green spaces and improved mental health and wellbeing.
Photo credit: UN Environment Programme
“Biodiversity is not merely an abstract biological concept, it is essential to humanity because it provides the air that we breathe, the medicines that heal us and the food that we eat.”
– Simone Webber, Creating Tomorrow’s Forests’ in-house ecologist
On top of all that, diverse forests sequester more carbon than monocultures (where only one species is planted). Therefore, biodiversity is vital in maximising our efforts to fight climate change. Unfortunately, biodiversity levels in the UK are poor. We fail to meet 14 out of 20 globally agreed biodiversity targets, and the 2019 State of Nature Report estimates that 15% of all species in Britain are at risk of extinction.
Luckily, Creating Tomorrow’s Forests have a dedicated team of experts working hard to create diverse forests in the UK, in order to boost the nation’s biodiversity and fight climate change.
Today, there’s a huge number of offsetting schemes available for anyone wanting to reduce their carbon footprint. But Creating Tomorrow’s forests really stood out to us because they do so much more than just plant trees. We are beyond excited to be working with them.
If this article has piqued your curiosity, take a look at the amazing blogs written by Creating Tomorrow’s Forests’ own in-house ecologist, Simone Webber. They are packed full of interesting information on biodiversity, carbon sequestering and loads of other environmental topics.