An exciting new not for profit organisation is the first of its kind in the UK to link landowners and the public to slow climate change by planting thousands of broadleaf trees.
9Trees, a community interest company, has a mission to plant nine trees per person per year at sites across the UK to help offset personal carbon footprints.
“The average person in the UK emits nine tonnes of carbon dioxide annually and the average broadleaf tree sequesters one tonne of carbon in its life,” said Michael Cunningham, who founded 9Trees.org last year with fellow director Michelle Kent.
“If we all plant nine trees every year, we can have a massive impact on the greenhouse effect. This is something we can all achieve, so let us make 2020 a real year of change.”
Michael and Michelle are supported by what they describe as “an energetic, dynamic and professional team with a wealth of experience drawn from many sectors”.
The company planted its first two sites near Rhayader and Llandrindod Wells in Mid Wales with 1,375 carefully sourced broadleaf saplings in March. The trees included oak, birch, rowan, hawthorn and willow with a small mix of hazel, dogwood and cherry to help to introduce biodiversity to what was previously pastureland.
“New sites will be springing up across the UK, in Yorkshire, Kent, Sussex, West Wales and Somerset, but there are many more counties we want to reach out to,” explained Michael.
“Coming from conservation backgrounds, we know there is much more to this process than putting trees in the ground. We work with landowners, organisations and councils to source land.
“We use professional tree planting and fencing contractors who are local to the site to carry out the work. This helps bring money into rural communities and the countryside sector.
“We choose trees that will create a valuable biodiverse wildlife habitat for the future. Trees are planted efficiently, in the right places and are safeguarded for 50 years.
“Once a person subscribes and their trees are geolocated, they will be able to visit them, showing their family and friends that they are contributing to a more positive future.
“People can sign up as a group or a family or just make a donation. We have business and corporate packages too.”
Michael has worked in a variety of roles for many different conservation organisations, including the Environment Agency, RSPB and Green Mantle . He is also the Wales representative for A Focus on Nature.
He started the not for profit organisation, Natural Mid Wales, in 2012 and was one of the youngest board members of Tourist Partnership Mid Wales. From 2009-’15, he successfully managed Erwood Station Craft Centre and Gallery on the banks of the River Wye near Builth Wells.
Michael’s desire to have an impact on the climate crisis was the driving force behind the creation of 9Trees, a practical solution to help himself and others offset their carbon footprint.
“This really is the start of a journey,” he said. “People who join us understand that we are working for the protection of our children’s future.”
Michelle studied environmental science and has worked in ecology, woodland management and habitat management for 10 years. She co-founded 9Trees to take action against climate change and to put a wide range of practical skills and knowledge to positive use.
“I want to build a network of sustainable woodlands that have been funded through lots of individuals from across the UK, which results in the creation of more countryside jobs and skills,” she said.