In February 2019 we set out, along with friends and family, for a day of tree planting in Avonmouth.
The aims of the project were three-fold; to offset some of the company’s carbon emissions; to improve local air quality; and to increase biodiversity to support the natural environment.
We joined Bristol City Council as part of their One Tree per Child project, which is aiming to plant 24,000 trees in Bristol by 2020. The trees planted on the day were paid for by our carbon fund, which is money that we set aside to spend on initiatives that will save the equivalent amount of carbon emissions to those that we have used in our travel and energy usage in the past year.
The day started with an induction from the Bristol City Council staff on the type of trees that were going to be planted and the best digging technique, as well as an explanation regarding mulch films and plastic rabbit guards.
With so much of our work centred on reducing plastic use we were keen to minimise the amount of plastic involved in our tree planting session. At the moment the mulch used in the process contains plastic mulch film: so as part of our project we have conducted a mulch film experiment with the aim of persuading the Council to stop using mulch film.
The site at Avonmouth was naturally split in three sections. In the first section a traditional plastic mulch film was used; in the second, a certified biodegradable mulch film; and in the third no mulch film was used. In years to come we will see the affect that this has on the trees survival rates and we hope that the Council are able to minimise their plastic use. We also used plastic rabbit guards to protect the young saplings from being nibbled by wildlife – these guards were to be recollected when the time was right and reused or disposed of properly.
After our briefing it was time for us to get digging! Under the supervision of the project coordinators, the assembled volunteers were given spades and let loose to plant small saplings of a variety of species. The species chosen were all native to England and deciduous; including oak, hornbeam, goat willow and silver birch. Some faster growing species, including oak, were planted in small groups to prevent them shading out the others. The volunteers were even encouraged to name each tree that they planted!
The team spent four hours hard at work and planted 1,087 trees, covering almost the entire site. It is expected that in years to come the area will be a beautiful deciduous woodland – as well as a carbon sink. Studies show that trees will, on average, offset up to 1 tonne of CO2-eq per 40 years, so if all trees were to survive, we could offset up to 1,087 tonnes of carbon over the next 40 years.
All in all, everyone had a wonderful day and we are all proud that the woodland will offset some of the greenhouse gas emissions that we have produced as a company in the past year, as well as increasing air quality and biodiversity in the area.