Coadou Forest, France

Cut the Carbon Jargon Manifesto

10 perplexing problems to tackle together so our green actions make the biggest impact

Discover
Coadou Forest, France

Here to wrap your head around carbon offsetting? Great!

We're a seriously optimistic bunch at EcoTree, but even we feel bogged down sometimes by the jargon, wild claims and greenwashing that can get in the way of truly green action.

So we've put together 10 of our passionate (and expert!) thoughts on carbon offsetting to help you cut through the jargon. After reading, we hope you know what to expect, what to steer clear of and the right questions to ask to ensure real, measurable environmental benefits.

1

We’ll say this till we’re blue in the face… Reduce first!

Yes, we're an organization that a lot of people and companies come to for help in reducing or offsetting their carbon footprint on our planet. But our not-so-secret wish is that there was hardly any need for that benefit, because people, processes and companies had evolved to massively reduce their emissions in the first place.

We'd still be here, so that would be absolutely fine with us! We grow forests for the bigger planetary picture, and the capture and storage of carbon is but one jolly good reason we do what we do . Because while forests are important carbon sinks, they can't clean up this mess on their own.

We encourage anyone considering owning trees in EcoTree forests, to first look at ways to reduce emissions. Science-based targets are a good place to start. And there's no shaming here! We all emit and we all want to change. So let's keep looking for innovative ways to do this together and in the meantime, we'll grow and preserve your carbon-sinking trees.

Calculate your carbon footprint
2

Let’s drop the idea we can offset our carbon footprints now shall we?

At EcoTree, we believe passionately that engaging in environmental actions with an offset or balance sheet mentality can be counterproductive. We are not here to give anyone, companies or individuals, the feeling that they have bought a right to pollute.

That may sound harsh but the entire planet is at stake, so there's no time to skirt around the issue! The planet and our forests are enormously complex systems and only a global ambition of collective actions around the protection of biodiversity, sustainable resources and emission reduction in the long term will put them back in balance.

Our goal is to help people move away from a focus on the short-term balancing act of individual carbon neutrality, towards a contribution over time to future global carbon neutrality . We do this by helping them create carbon sinks, preserve biodiversity and produce sustainable timber instead of raw materials that pollute.

3

Saving the planet is about more than sucking carbon out of the air.

It's great that more and more organizations exist that plant trees to help people offset their footprint. But the race to capture carbon has led to some problematic consequences, which we must address in order to change.

As trees capture carbon at different rates, there's a push in the industry to maximize CO2 capture by planting softwood monocultures good at absorbing carbon. At the same time, the proliferation of tree-planting organizations that plant and leave can mean that CO2 capture is not maximized at all. EcoTree is the balancing act between CO2 capture and forest habitat preservation.

We must elevate the other environmental benefits of forests to the same level as carbon capture . Mixed forests are vital for the planet and animals that live there, for natural regeneration and for human wellbeing too. Potentially the most exciting part of our solution is how we bring people into sustainable timber production, which can truly benefit communities as well as the environment.

2

Credit where credit is due… and that’s not always carbon credits.

Carbon credit is something companies or projects can buy or sell, depending on whether they emit more or less CO2 than governmental regulation allows. As an example, a large company that's not been able to keep its emissions under a set amount can buy credits from one that has managed to emit fewer emissions than they were allowed. This exchange mechanism to reduce emissions has created a market for trading credits, and along with it a whole industry of organizations offering credits to others.

Do carbon credits deserve all the bad press and criticism they've received? Absolutely! But not because they are bad in themselves. It's more that some companies have been engaging with people offering credit where there's actually no real environmental benefit, in order to make money. And some companies have sadly viewed credits as a license to stay dirty.

At EcoTree, we don't believe in a right to pollute. And to us, it's crazy that anyone would think they have absolved their responsibilities for pollution they're creating here and now by paying for pollution to be slowly absorbed over the long and productive life of a forest. That makes no sense! What about the here and now ?!

Finally the price carbon credits are sold for on the voluntary market is simply too low (average selling price of € 3.37 / tCO2e in 2016) to encourage a genuine approach to reduction or to fund projects in the long term. This is a particular problem in the nurture and maintenance of vibrant forests, which is why we don't go there. We are in it for the long haul!

2

Do not take people at their word without research. Not even us OK?

Now we've said what we think about carbon credits, we acknowledge that they are the tool the planet has right now for holding large, polluting companies responsible for their current emissions. So we must be able to spot high-quality credits from bad ones, if we're to clean up the market.

Part of the problem is that the carbon credit market has 'standards', so companies assume that if a carbon credit project says it adheres to the right standards, then they are getting a real environmental benefit. There are sadly loads of examples where this has not been the case, because people have offered to preserve forest areas that were never under threat anyway.

We're not trying to make anyone feel bad about using credits. Why, even the world's most sustainable companies have inadvertently bought into bad carbon credit schemes, that promised impact they couldn't deliver. We should always look critically at a project to see if it has brought more of the planet under protection and not accept projects that are an easy way for credit-offering organizations to let companies off.

2

Don’t believe you can make a sustainable, long-term impact at €1 per tree.

Planting millions of trees all over the place and pushing for quick action is energizing the collective imagination. But just like carbon credits, we need to ask if this approach has the impact people hope it does. Companies offering cheap trees often act as intermediaries, giving part of the money they receive to landowners, while keeping the rest. The landowner is happy, as they needed funds for their forest, but are they enough to support the proper maintenance of a sustainable forest?

Forestry projects should have a holistic approach and resources for long-term success. Because rewilding a world with humans in it is going to take care and management . It's not just about being a habitat for wildlife, nor simply about absorbing CO2. It's about the sustainable management of both these things, and ensuring humans thrive within that vital, natural environment. And that takes time and expert intervention.

Our sustainable foresters work every day to maintain and preserve forests of your trees, so even though we've cut out the middleman, we're never going to be able to offer trees that cheap. But owning trees in our forests contributes to so much more in the long run, like reducing dependence on non-sustainable steel and concrete, a UN Sustainable Development Goal!

2

Measuring how much carbon we absorb is tricky but not impossible!

We understand how overwhelming it can be to navigate through environmental offerings to find truly beneficial ones, when many organizations can't back their claims up with figures. Because even though there are complex variables involved, it is actually possible to measure impact. That's why we've spent some serious brain juice on our verified carbon capture calculations. And they've been verified by the Bureau Veritas (they're a big deal).

The capacity of a forest to capture carbon differs depending on the type of trees, their ages, climate and soil type, to name but a few variables. That is why a sum-of-trees approach to calculating carbon is useless . It also doesn't take into account capture happening in litter and soil, nor substitute capture when the wood is used to replace polluting materials once harvested.

Our methodology takes all these complexities into account and is accessible online for all our tree owners to track and account for their contribution. We present it in the hope that people will use it to demonstrate their contribution towards a global reduction in CO2 , rather than a tick-sheet on individual impact.

2

Look past wild claims and demand verifiable standards.

We're all painfully aware that as environmental business opportunities multiply, so to do the scandals and false claims. So we're so glad that you're here, reading this and hopefully embarking on your green journey to a carbon-reduced future with EcoTree. Because we're confident about our ability to stand by our promises.

First off, we have an independent ethics committee made up of experts in this field. We're registered with the AMF, France's national financial regulator which ensures the protection of invested savings and access to proper information. And we know we keep going on about it, but our carbon calculations are now verified by the Bureau Veritas!

We manage our forests ourselves with sustainable management plans and our forests are continuously being certified with the world's largest sustainable forestry certification, the PEFC. . The work of our foresters is inspected annually by an independent forester certified by the Court of Appeals. And each year we produce both a forestry report and a biodiversity report.

2

You can absolutely shout about your action without greenwashing.

All of that means that you can actually shout about your partnership with us, without having to worry about greenwashing, or in this case, treewashing. But it's still important to know how to communicate it.

If you are on-board with our thinking and also see the benefit of talking about your green action in terms of contribution to carbon sinks in the long term, protection of biodiversity and creation of sanctuaries for humans as well as animals, then go wild - you can communicate in confidence!

If you plan on talking about how your trees in our forests allow you to be a dirty old polluter, then you're on your own! Our calculations can be trusted and you can absolutely use them when talking about your impact, but we really hope you won't use them to cover emissions you could reduce instead. The impact you're making with us is simply a beautiful green step in the right direction you can be proud of.

2

To cut through the jargon, we'll go back to the root of it all.

To help you with that communication, we'd like to take you back to the gorgeously complex way forests capture and store carbon. Because understanding this delicate balancing act will help you walk the fine line in communicating your contribution to a carbon neutral future.

We know that a tree in a temperate, sustainably managed forest absorbs between 10 and 50kg of CO2 per year, with an average of 30kg. How we got to this number is important and you can read about it here, as well as find out more about photosynthesis. This is how trees absorb carbon and ultimately why there are 8 billion tons of CO2 locked into our planet's forests (the second biggest carbon sink, after our oceans).

Trees store carbon in their trunks, branches, roots, leaves and biomass (litter and soil). But they get less efficient at this over time, until they eventually stop. When this happens, EcoTree cuts the individually selected trees, plants three more in their place, then sells the wood as sustainable timber. All the profit goes to the individual tree owner. And the timber keeps the carbon locked in, which means it further reduces carbon emissions by replacing materials like steel and cement.

Our common action and the heart of our growing movement, is the creation of sustainable, continuous forests where ecosystems are preserved, biodiversity flourishes and where trees absorb CO2 over the long term, growing at their own pace before eventually becoming timber with the carbon locked in.

Thank you for helping us secure the future of the forest!

2

We’ll say this till we’re blue in the face… Reduce first!

Yes, we're an organization that a lot of people and companies come to for help in reducing or offsetting their carbon footprint on our planet. But our not-so-secret wish is that there was hardly any need for that benefit, because people, processes and companies had evolved to massively reduce their emissions in the first place.

We'd still be here, so that would be absolutely fine with us! We grow forests for the bigger planetary picture, and the capture and storage of carbon is but one jolly good reason we do what we do . Because while forests are important carbon sinks, they can't clean up this mess on their own.

We encourage anyone considering owning trees in EcoTree forests, to first look at ways to reduce emissions. Science-based targets are a good place to start. And there's no shaming here! We all emit and we all want to change. So let's keep looking for innovative ways to do this together and in the meantime, we'll grow and preserve your carbon-sinking trees.

Calculate your carbon footprint
2

Let’s drop the idea we can offset our carbon footprints now shall we?

At EcoTree, we believe passionately that engaging in environmental actions with an offset or balance sheet mentality can be counterproductive. We are not here to give anyone, companies or individuals, the feeling that they have bought a right to pollute.

That may sound harsh but the entire planet is at stake, so there's no time to skirt around the issue! The planet and our forests are enormously complex systems and only a global ambition of collective actions around the protection of biodiversity, sustainable resources and emission reduction in the long term will put them back in balance.

Our goal is to help people move away from a focus on the short-term balancing act of individual carbon neutrality, towards a contribution over time to future global carbon neutrality . We do this by helping them create carbon sinks, preserve biodiversity and produce sustainable timber instead of raw materials that pollute.

2

Saving the planet is about more than sucking carbon out of the air.

It's great that more and more organizations exist that plant trees to help people offset their footprint. But the race to capture carbon has led to some problematic consequences, which we must address in order to change.

As trees capture carbon at different rates, there's a push in the industry to maximize CO2 capture by planting softwood monocultures good at absorbing carbon. At the same time, the proliferation of tree-planting organizations that plant and leave can mean that CO2 capture is not maximized at all. EcoTree is the balancing act between CO2 capture and forest habitat preservation.

We must elevate the other environmental benefits of forests to the same level as carbon capture . Mixed forests are vital for the planet and animals that live there, for natural regeneration and for human wellbeing too. Potentially the most exciting part of our solution is how we bring people into sustainable timber production, which can truly benefit communities as well as the environment.

2

Credit where credit is due… and that’s not always carbon credits.

Carbon credit is something companies or projects can buy or sell, depending on whether they emit more or less CO2 than governmental regulation allows. As an example, a large company that's not been able to keep its emissions under a set amount can buy credits from one that has managed to emit fewer emissions than they were allowed. This exchange mechanism to reduce emissions has created a market for trading credits, and along with it a whole industry of organizations offering credits to others.

Do carbon credits deserve all the bad press and criticism they've received? Absolutely! But not because they are bad in themselves. It's more that some companies have been engaging with people offering credit where there's actually no real environmental benefit, in order to make money. And some companies have sadly viewed credits as a license to stay dirty.

At EcoTree, we don't believe in a right to pollute. And to us, it's crazy that anyone would think they have absolved their responsibilities for pollution they're creating here and now by paying for pollution to be slowly absorbed over the long and productive life of a forest. That makes no sense! What about the here and now ?!

Finally the price carbon credits are sold for on the voluntary market is simply too low (average selling price of € 3.37 / tCO2e in 2016) to encourage a genuine approach to reduction or to fund projects in the long term. This is a particular problem in the nurture and maintenance of vibrant forests, which is why we don't go there. We are in it for the long haul!

2

Do not take people at their word without research. Not even us OK?

Now we've said what we think about carbon credits, we acknowledge that they are the tool the planet has right now for holding large, polluting companies responsible for their current emissions. So we must be able to spot high-quality credits from bad ones, if we're to clean up the market.

Part of the problem is that the carbon credit market has 'standards', so companies assume that if a carbon credit project says it adheres to the right standards, then they are getting a real environmental benefit. There are sadly loads of examples where this has not been the case, because people have offered to preserve forest areas that were never under threat anyway.

We're not trying to make anyone feel bad about using credits. Why, even the world's most sustainable companies have inadvertently bought into bad carbon credit schemes, that promised impact they couldn't deliver. We should always look critically at a project to see if it has brought more of the planet under protection and not accept projects that are an easy way for credit-offering organizations to let companies off.

2

Don’t believe you can make a sustainable, long-term impact at €1 per tree.

Planting millions of trees all over the place and pushing for quick action is energizing the collective imagination. But just like carbon credits, we need to ask if this approach has the impact people hope it does. Companies offering cheap trees often act as intermediaries, giving part of the money they receive to landowners, while keeping the rest. The landowner is happy, as they needed funds for their forest, but are they enough to support the proper maintenance of a sustainable forest?

Forestry projects should have a holistic approach and resources for long-term success. Because rewilding a world with humans in it is going to take care and management . It's not just about being a habitat for wildlife, nor simply about absorbing CO2. It's about the sustainable management of both these things, and ensuring humans thrive within that vital, natural environment. And that takes time and expert intervention.

Our sustainable foresters work every day to maintain and preserve forests of your trees, so even though we've cut out the middleman, we're never going to be able to offer trees that cheap. But owning trees in our forests contributes to so much more in the long run, like reducing dependence on non-sustainable steel and concrete, a UN Sustainable Development Goal!

2

Measuring how much carbon we absorb is tricky but not impossible!

We understand how overwhelming it can be to navigate through environmental offerings to find truly beneficial ones, when many organizations can't back their claims up with figures. Because even though there are complex variables involved, it is actually possible to measure impact. That's why we've spent some serious brain juice on our verified carbon capture calculations. And they've been verified by the Bureau Veritas (they're a big deal).

The capacity of a forest to capture carbon differs depending on the type of trees, their ages, climate and soil type, to name but a few variables. That is why a sum-of-trees approach to calculating carbon is useless . It also doesn't take into account capture happening in litter and soil, nor substitute capture when the wood is used to replace polluting materials once harvested.

Our methodology takes all these complexities into account and is accessible online for all our tree owners to track and account for their contribution. We present it in the hope that people will use it to demonstrate their contribution towards a global reduction in CO2 , rather than a tick-sheet on individual impact.

2

Look past wild claims and demand verifiable standards.

We're all painfully aware that as environmental business opportunities multiply, so to do the scandals and false claims. So we're so glad that you're here, reading this and hopefully embarking on your green journey to a carbon-reduced future with EcoTree. Because we're confident about our ability to stand by our promises.

First off, we have an independent ethics committee made up of experts in this field. We're registered with the AMF, France's national financial regulator which ensures the protection of invested savings and access to proper information. And we know we keep going on about it, but our carbon calculations are now verified by the Bureau Veritas!

We manage our forests ourselves with sustainable management plans and our forests are continuously being certified with the world's largest sustainable forestry certification, the PEFC. . The work of our foresters is inspected annually by an independent forester certified by the Court of Appeals. And each year we produce both a forestry report and a biodiversity report.

2

You can absolutely shout about your action without greenwashing.

All of that means that you can actually shout about your partnership with us, without having to worry about greenwashing, or in this case, treewashing. But it's still important to know how to communicate it.

If you are on-board with our thinking and also see the benefit of talking about your green action in terms of contribution to carbon sinks in the long term, protection of biodiversity and creation of sanctuaries for humans as well as animals, then go wild - you can communicate in confidence!

If you plan on talking about how your trees in our forests allow you to be a dirty old polluter, then you're on your own! Our calculations can be trusted and you can absolutely use them when talking about your impact, but we really hope you won't use them to cover emissions you could reduce instead. The impact you're making with us is simply a beautiful green step in the right direction you can be proud of.

2

To cut through the jargon, we'll go back to the root of it all.

To help you with that communication, we'd like to take you back to the gorgeously complex way forests capture and store carbon. Because understanding this delicate balancing act will help you walk the fine line in communicating your contribution to a carbon neutral future.

We know that a tree in a temperate, sustainably managed forest absorbs between 10 and 50kg of CO2 per year, with an average of 30kg. How we got to this number is important and you can read about it here, as well as find out more about photosynthesis. This is how trees absorb carbon and ultimately why there are 8 billion tons of CO2 locked into our planet's forests (the second biggest carbon sink, after our oceans).

Trees store carbon in their trunks, branches, roots, leaves and biomass (litter and soil). But they get less efficient at this over time, until they eventually stop. When this happens, EcoTree cuts the individually selected trees, plants three more in their place, then sells the wood as sustainable timber. All the profit goes to the individual tree owner. And the timber keeps the carbon locked in, which means it further reduces carbon emissions by replacing materials like steel and cement.

Our common action and the heart of our growing movement, is the creation of sustainable, continuous forests where ecosystems are preserved, biodiversity flourishes and where trees absorb CO2 over the long term, growing at their own pace before eventually becoming timber with the carbon locked in.

Thank you for helping us secure the future of the forest!