‘Research shows that planting billions of trees across the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis.’ reported Damian Carrington in The Guardian back in July and only the other day The UN Food and Agriculture Organization announced its Great Green Wall for Cities initiative, promoting the use of nature-based solutions to tackle climate change. In our own move to becoming a greener and more environmentally responsible agency, we have been looking at carbon offsetting, so we invited Matt Davies from Mossy Earth to explain to the team how it works, and how it can help compensate for unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions.
Matt and his friend, Duarte de Zoeten, set up the social enterprise in 2017 in order to provide an easy way for people to offset their carbon footprint. Their projects focus on tree-planting, with the aim of bringing back lost wilderness to Europe and improving biodiversity and restoring native ecosystems through rewilding. Rewilding is bringing back indigenous species and rebuilding native habitats in areas where they’ve been lost or where invasive species have devastated the environment. Worldwide we currently lose 7.56 million hectares of forest per year which equates to 27 football fields every minute.
Registered in the UK, but based in Portugal, Mossy Earth currently have a number of projects there as well as in Ireland and the Southern Carpathians mountains in Romania. They work closely with local communities, organisations and governments and in the Southern Carpathians they’re working to fix the damage from illegal logging by replanting native trees. They employed the local Roma Gypsy community to help with this, with the ultimate aim of turning the forest in to a national park.
With 28,000 species at risk of extinction, Mossy Earth are working to reintroduce animals back into their native habitats. The Southern Carpathians have wild wolves, bears and lynxes and are one of the few areas where these animals can be found in vast numbers. Using cameras, Mossy Earth have been monitoring the animal’s behaviour so that they can learn how they live and then reintroduce them into other ecosystems.
Matt also told us about the damaging effect toilet paper is having on the environment. Toilet paper is a big export for Portugal, accounting for 4.9% of all exports in 2016, but whilst the industry is a large employer, it’s made from invasive eucalyptus trees which are planted in close proximity for higher yields. This unfortunately leads to soil degradation, with the earth drying out and becoming more prone to forest fires. Unfortunately, in 2017 devastating fires did break out in Portugal and led to over 60 deaths with more than 200 injured. With a better understanding of how to plant the trees, and which trees to plant where, this can be prevented with simple solutions like adding native hardwood trees to plantations, which can stop fires in their tracks.
The company has been rapidly growing and has planted 50,000 trees in its first 2 years. They fund their projects through monthly subscriptions that help individuals and businesses carbon offset their lifestyles and operations. Next, they will be expanding their projects into the US where they already have a strong membership. Each member gets 24 native trees planted on their behalf each year – enough to offset their entire annual carbon footprint – as well as the opportunity to vote on rewilding projects, and access to sustainable living guides and monthly podcasts.
Matt’s top tips for leading a cleaner lifestyle with less environmental impact:
- Take less flights, and carbon-offset when you do fly – you can do this easily via Mossy Earth’s website if your airline doesn’t offer it as an add-on.
- Eat less meat, especially red meat – beef is very damaging due to the amount of ozone-damaging methane that cattle produce, as well as the number of forests that are cleared to plant soy plantations for cattle feed.
- Say no to fast fashion – buy less clothes and only buy sustainably sourced materials (fabric dyes for example are very damaging to the environment).