7 Innovations Protecting Forests – Springwise

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Over recent years, we have all become aware of the pressing necessity of saving our trees, urgently. Yet time and time again we see this is not as simple as simply stopping their destruction — it’s too late for that.

The theme of the International Day of Forests for 2021 (21 March) is “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being.” The idea that solving the deforestation crisis is a way of solving both the climate-change and biodiversity crises. That the forest connects with us all in more ways than we think.

Check out these 7 varied and creative ways that innovators around the world have been attempting to preserve our forests, spotted from the Springwise archive.

International Day of Forests 20201
Photo source: Ingrid Ødegaard/Whereby

1. SUSTAINABLE VIDEO PLATFORM OFFSETS CARBON EMISSIONS BY PLANTING TREES

A partnership between the environmental startup Brink, and the Norwegian video conferencing app Whereby aims to offset the carbon footprint of video conferencing by planting trees.

With every hour-long video call, Purdue University found that between 150g and 1kg of carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere. Video conferencing has sky-rocketed as remote working becomes the norm, and so whilst the pandemic has precipitated a record decline in carbon emissions, remote working still has an environmental impact. 

To counteract this, the duo decided to plant an Impact Forest across protected sites in Kenya, Mozambique, and Madagascar. The forest covers an area roughly the size of 137 football pitches, which will absorb approximately 410,000 tonnes of carbon. That’s equivalent to taking 5,700 cars off the road.

Read more about the video platform.

Photo source: HempWood

2. FLOORING SOLUTION USES HEMP AS A SUBSTITUTE

Wood is a highly sought-after material for flooring, furniture and accent walls. It is warm and attractive, but it is also not highly sustainable, especially if it is a slow-growing hardwood. Now a company in the US, HempWood, has developed a new type of wood substitute — made from hemp.

Hemp has long been noted for its versatility, but HempWood has developed a new process that can turn hemp fibres into sustainable wood alternatives. Part of the appeal is that hemp grows very quickly and is ready for harvest in around 120 days – compared to the decades or even hundreds of years it takes for tree-based woods such as oak, hickory and maple. Moreover, every part of the hemp plant can be used, meaning there is no waste to dispose of. Although HempWood primarily uses the bottom part of the plant, the upper parts can be used for chicken feed, amongst other things.

Read more about the hemp substitute.

Photo source: Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

3. WORLD’S FIRST NATURE-BACKED FINANCIAL INSTRUMENT

Venture capital group Single Earth has developed a way for landowners to earn money for under-utilising their land. Their online platform allows forests, wetlands and other natural areas to generate income by being left alone – eliminating the need for their owners to sell their resources in order to turn a profit. Instead, owners are rewarded for preserving ecosystems.

Single Earth works by tokenising privately-owned natural resources and areas of ecological significance. Companies and organisations can then purchase the tokens and thus own fractional amounts of the lands and resources. Importantly, investors also receive carbon offsets on their token purchases. 

Read more about Single Earth.

Photo source: BrewDog

4. BREWERY BUYS A FOREST TO OFFSET CARBON

Scottish craft brewer BrewDog took a bold step towards becoming not just carbon neutral, but carbon negative. The company has recently purchased 2,500 acres of forest in the Scottish Highlands. The land is currently used for grazing livestock, but BrewDog hopes to restore the area to native forest, allowing it to sequester around 300,000 tons of CO2.

BrewDog’s plans for the forest include planting a million trees over the next two years and restoring 550 acres of peatland. The company also hopes to build a sustainable campsite on the land and host retreats and workshops for the public. Its 130,000 “Equity Punk” investors will be invited to help with tree planting from early 2021.

Read more about the BrewDog scheme.

Photo source: Lush Website

5. FIRST-EVER ‘CARBON-POSITIVE’ PACKAGING MADE FROM CORK

The British natural-cosmetic company Lush developed what may have been the first-ever “carbon-positive” packaging. The new packaging is made from cork instead of plastic.

Lush recently received its first order of 6,000 cork pots and aims to purchase an additional half a million more in the next year. Lush has also established ethical standards during the transportation process, bringing the pots to the UK by boat to reduce its carbon footprint. Moreover, to obtain the cork, Lush is only supporting forests that are part of regeneration programmes.

Read more about the cork packaging.

6. CHARCOAL BALLS TACKLE KENYAN REFORESTATION

Kenya has a problem with deforestation. The country cuts down an estimated 5.6 million trees and shrubs a year. The trees provide food, shelter and fuel, but without them, wind and soil erosion turn large areas of the country into a dustbowl. A local startup called Seedballs Kenya may have a solution. To make replanting easy and affordable, they developed seedballs – a way for anyone to plant trees with almost no effort.

Seedballs look like large, black marbles. Each one contains a single tree seed surrounded by nutrients and coated in a charcoal shell. The charcoal protects the seed and protects from insects or animals. When it rains, the water washes away the coating and allows the seeds to germinate. Seedballs Kenya is a business collaboration between two Kenyan companies, charcoal stove maker Cookswell Jikos and Chardust Ltd., which recycles waste into fuel briquettes.

Read more about the charcoal balls.

Photo source: Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

7. EMPLOYEE EXERCISE LEADS TO PLANTED TREES THROUGH AN APP

Last year, German heating, industrial and refrigeration manufacturer Viessmann offered to plant one tree every time one of its employees engaged in a short period of exercise, such as walking 1 km, doing 12 minutes of Pilates, or doing 20 minutes of downhill skiing. A total of 5,000 employees participated in the programme, called #ViMove for Climate, leading to the planting of 150,000 trees. Now, Viessmann has started the program again, only this time it is open to anyone.

The programme uses an app, the ViMove app, that lets participants enter how many kilometres they have covered or how many minutes they have exercised. Users can either connect the app to a fitness tracker or upload screenshots of exercise data collected using other apps – or even a photo of the exercise equipment’s display screen. The app will show users their total activity, as well as how many trees will be planted and how much CO2 they have offset. 

Read more about the ViMove app.

Written By: Holly Hamilton



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