Can I offset my ecological footprint with trees?

Every company, small or large will have an ecological footprint. Some of the companies we work with are interested in supporting forest restoration to offset various environmental impacts associated with their business. We suggest you get in touch with us directly to learn more.

How many trees would be appropriate for a company of our size?

This depends entirely on your ambitions and objectives. From working with over 200 companies, we have learnt that what really makes a contribution worthwhile is a clear vision of why you would like to plant trees and contribute to forest landscape restoration. Your employees and customers should be able to easily understand what you are doing and why. Our team of experts will be happy to advise you on identifying this vision.

How much carbon is stored in a tree?

In some of our projects, 1 ha of growing forest can absorb more than 320 tons of CO2, which, depending on tree density, can mean up to 160 kg of carbon per single tree over its growth period (20 to 30 years). Since the annual carbon footprint of an average person living in Europe or North America is between 10 and 20 tons of CO2, each one of us should plant between 60 and120 trees every year. Plant now.

What options does WeForest offer for carbon compensation?

Thanks to WeForest's transparent information on planting progress, sponsors and donors have several options to demonstrate their contribution to carbon sequestration. All our carbon sequestration calculations are based on field measurements in sample areas and are specific to each project. Some of our projects have also received third party certification based on recognised international standards that allow formal carbon claims.

Companies that would like to become carbon neutral through forestry can pre-finance a forest restoration project and get a share of the generated carbon credits once they are issued. Carbon credits can also be purchased off the shelf in smaller quantities.

WeForest also offers the possibility to start a new carbon certified forest landscape restoration projects for companies interested in larger contributions. Please contact us to discuss the available options with our experts.

Why plant trees in tropical regions (and not in temperate countries)

Forests are known for removing the excess of CO2 from the atmosphere and cool our climate: 50% of a tree is actually stored carbon. The type of land cover however matters when considering what scientists call ‘the albedo effect’: the darker the land cover, the more it will absorb solar radiation and therefore heat.

The type of trees and the climate in which climate they grow also play a key role in regulating temperatures.

Snow cover is better than dark forest cover for climate. Furthermore, trees make clouds. In the tropical regions where trees grow faster (increased CO2 storage), forest also contribute to increased evapotranspiration and cloud formation, slowing down global warming.

Forest types matter. Recent observation-based approach (satellite data) suggests that reforestation to conifer forest at mid-to-high latitudes had the lowest cooling effect and reforestation to evergreen broadleaf forest in the tropics the highest. There is today a broad scientific consensus on the albedo effects of large scale afforestation/reforestation at different latitudes and still some uncertainty surrounding the response in terms of global temperature change linked to the effect of evapotranspiration, cloud formation and future CO2 uptake by forests. Read the whole blog here.

What is the global rate of deforestation and reforestation?

According to the 2015 Global Forest Resources Assessment by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), between 2010 and 2015, there was an annual loss of 7.6 million ha of forest area and an annual gain of 4.3 million ha of forest area, resulting in a net annual decrease in forest area of 3.3 million ha.

To get a better idea of just how fast is the rate of deforestation, tave a look at this clock produced by Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

How much does a tree cost?

On average it costs 1€. The price varies per location and by volume: Brazil is for example more expensive than India or Zambia. For long term or large contributions prices we are able to reduce the price a bit. Tell us about your needs and we'll give you a specific quote.

What is the link between bees and forest restoration?

Bees play a vital role in pollination of all flowering species including trees. A study conducted in Ghana and Benin by the NGO ‘Bees for Development’ has shown that cashew trees produced 2 or 3 times the amount of cashew nuts if honey bees were raised near the trees. When an area is deforested, bees can no longer feed on the tree pollen and nectar and struggle to survive. That is why WeForest started to distribute bee hives in restored forest area, bringing back the pollinators and benefiting the trees. In addition to their ecological benefits, bees can serve as a valuable source of additional income, especially for communities that depend on forest products for their livelihood.

How do we know if our trees will survive?

The survival rates of trees in WeForest projects is high. Nevertheless, WeForest counts the number of trees not by the number of seedlings planted but by the average number of trees that successfully grow in a sample area. We always specify forest density in the project plan and contracts with all partners and participants. If fewer trees than expected are successfully transplanted from the tree nursery to the planting site, our commitment is to replant.

How does planting trees empower women?

To prevent further forest degradation in the project areas, WeForest projects include promotion of sustainable livelihood opportunities for members of the local community that do not put a strain on the forest. Some of the sustainable sources of income take form of micro businesses through which women can gain a unique opportunity to boost their entrepreneurial skills.

Helen from Kitwe in Zambia, for example, was trained to sell efficient cook stoves and wood chips. Helen is also a teacher in Kitwe and has a vision that all schools in the area should use efficient cook stoves for cooking lunch for the pupils because they do not produce as many dangerous fumes. By selling efficient cook stoves she can turn her vision into reality and support her family with additional income.

How's the money spent?

For every euro received we spend on average 0,75 on planting trees, training local communities for long term protection and developing local alternatives to forests and trees as their main income. We also audit and monitor our impact several times a year. The remaining 25 cents are spent on scientific research around forestry and water, on growing the cause and the communications tools (our outreach is key).

How do you protect the planting areas from fires or droughts?

This is always a challenge for forest landscape restoration projects. We study the project areas before we plant and, where needed, we include fire breaks in the forest landscape restoration plan. Every project also includes an area of trees that are not assigned to any donor or sponsor. Trees from this area may be allocated to donors and sponsors should any assigned planting polygons be dammaged due to an unexpected event.

Can we get photos of our trees?

Because we plant in large volumes, we do not monitor trees individually. Instead, we monitor and take photos of cross sections of the newly grown forest. Photos on the planting and tree growing process are made available to all corporate sponsors and donors along with stories of how the forest restoration effort impacts the local ecosystem and local community. All the planting areas are also visible on satellite images on our interactive map. Every sponsor or donor receives GPS coordinates of the planting polygon that they have supported.

Can we visit our project?

This depends on the project country location and the size of the contribution the donor or sponsor has made to WeForest (see sponsor/donor T&C’s).

What do you do to stop deforestation in the project areas?

All of our projects aim to address the root cause of forest degradation in that specific area (see our Restoration Principles). We do this by identifying and promoting sustainable livelihood opportunities for members of the local community that do not put a strain on the forest. We also provide training in various aspects of sustainable forest management, hire members of the local community as employees or volunteers and collaborate with local government institutions.

Is there a risk of being accused of greenwashing when planting trees?

WeForests strongly supports the view that companies engaging in reforestation should work towards decoupling their supply chains from deforestation. To avoid being greenwashing and to have a net positive impact on forests, your company needs to address its own impact on forests from either a product or operations perspective.

How do you monitor and report on the planting activities?

At WeForest, our objective is not merely planting trees, we plant trees to restore degraded landscapes and revive lush forests that have a sustainable positive impact on local communities and our climate. Scientific research is, therefore, a key element in our project planning and monitoring. We assess our projects regularly and are in close communication with local project partners. In some locations, we have full-time project managers on the ground, in others we conduct an in-depth monitoring visit at least once a year. Because we are always looking for ways to improve our practices, we partner with well-established local and international universities and research institutes on joint research projects.

We report on the progress of all our projects twice a year. This includes our monitoring results on vegetation growth and socio-economic impact. Our financial accounts are reviewed annually by an external auditor.

We believe that our donors and sponsors are part of the WeForest movement. Every contribution supports planting in a specific polygon with fixed GPS coordinates, which is visible on our interactive map. For our largest donors and sponsors we also prepare customised project reports with information on how the planting polygons they supported are progressing. All corporate donors and sponsors can also benefit from access to short project updates on our blog and photo stories from project sites.