Planting trees to offset boiler CO2

Q&A with JUST ONE Tree Founder, Amanda Bronkhorst.

At Gas Angel we care about our planet and are committed to doing everything we can to offset gas boiler CO2. For every customer who signs up for one of our boiler cover plans, two trees will be planted by JUST ONE Tree.

To share why this is so important, we chatted to Amanda from JUST ONE Tree who have now planted a whopping 750,000 trees.

Welcome Amanda!

As you know, we’re working with you to plant trees for every customer who signs up to Gas Angel Cover, our new boiler cover plan.

Can you explain why this is important?

Amanda: To prevent the worst impacts of climate change it is imperative we restrict our carbon emissions. However, this alone is not enough. To stop our planet from exceeding 1.5 – 2 degrees of global warming, we need to reach net-negative emissions. This means removing more CO2 from the atmosphere than we put into it.

“Scientists have now confirmed that planting a trillion trees would be the most effective solution to our climate crisis”

What’s more, they’ve mapped out the entire planet and proven there is enough space to plant these trees.

If we’re going to survive as a species we now need to consider the planet in everything we do. JUST ONE Tree, is a platform for everyone to do exactly that. We enable every person, business or school to collectively take action on the climate crisis because JUST £1 plants 1 Tree.

“If we’re going to survive as a species we now need to consider the planet in everything we do”

What is it specifically that trees provide for the planet?

Amanda: Once you start to look into it, they really do an incredible amount, it’s easy to see why they are so integral to the health and survival of both us and the planet.

Trees are climate regulators on a global scale. They are often referred to as the lungs of the planet as they remove harmful gases from the atmosphere. They store carbon in their roots, trunks and leaves and in return give us oxygen to breathe. They filter the water we drink – in fact, every 5th glass of water comes from the Amazon Rainforest. Trees prevent soil erosion, increase soil fertility and help to prevent flooding. They are also great barriers against extreme weather such as tsunamis and even avalanches in the snowier climates.

“They store carbon in their roots, trunks and leaves and in return give us oxygen to breathe”

If we look to the animal kingdom they provide habitat for the world’s wildlife and form complex eco-systems. Interestingly a single tree can house up to 2000 different species of insects, birds, amphibians, funghi, mosses and epiphytic plants.

On top of all this, they provide food for both animals and humans alike, shelter, timber for construction and 1.6 billion people actually earn a living from working with trees.

As you can see, they are incredibly important.

They absolutely are! Can you tell us a bit more about where you plant trees on behalf of our boiler cover customers and why you chose the locations you did?

Amanda: Yes, currently we plant in Madagascar, Mozambique, Indonesia, Nepal, Kenya and Haiti. I’ve chosen these areas to begin with for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is scientific evidence that suggests planting trees closer to the equator has more impact on rising global temperatures.

“Planting trees closer to the equator has more impact on rising global temperatures“

Not only do trees have a faster uptake in these climates, but also trees trap in heat, so it’s important to be planting in hotter regions. Sadly in these areas, the pound also goes a long way, so we can plant a lot more trees compared to here in England. JUST ONE Tree was set up to focus on climate change, so planting 10 – 15 trees in say Kenya for example, rather than one here in the UK was more important considering the urgency we’re facing.

Finally, my decision was also based on the social impact. A lot of deforestation is actually caused by the local communities, chopping trees to sell as charcoal on the side of the road or through slash and burn agriculture. This provides a short term solution for struggling families but actually causes a long term problem. Through working with my reforestation partners, we’re helping to provide training, agricultural education and sustainable incomes. This enables us to prevent further deforestation whilst reversing the effects, lifting people and their environment at the same time.

“Solution for struggling families”

Are there any kinds of trees that are more or less beneficial to the environment?

Amanda: I’m yet to come across a tree that isn’t beneficial to the environment, apart from planting monoculture forests and of course a key thing is always to only plant native species. However, I’m currently in love with Mangroves which is why we plant so many of them.

“I’m currently in love with Mangroves”

On first appearance Mangroves really aren’t very romantic compared to the rainforest, but when you delve deeper they are incredible.

Mangroves are huge carbon sinks and are vitally important in mitigating climate change. They actually sequester up to 4 times more carbon per hectare compared to land-based tropical trees.

They are one of the principal stores of blue carbon (a term given to carbon accumulated in marine or coastal ecosystems). They form a symbiotic relationship with coral reefs and impressively 3/4s of tropical fish species are born within their roots. So in planting Mangroves we’re also able to have an effect on the health and preservation of the nearby aquatic ecosystems whilst also sequestering large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere.

So you’re obviously having a huge and positive impact today! When and why was JUST One Tree founded?

Amanda: JUST ONE Tree was founded in June 2019. It was at a time when Greta Thunberg was visiting the UK and David Attenborough’s climate change programmes were being aired on TV. Suddenly, the climate emergency was really in the news and when I read Greta saying we only have 10 years left before we set off these irreversible tipping points which will lead to the end of human civilisation as we know it, I panicked. I was mum to a then 2-year-old and I was terrified what the future would hold for her. In ten years time she would only be 12, but what would the world look like when she was 30 or 40?

“We only have 10 years left before we set off irreversible tipping points which will lead to the end of human civilisation as we know it”

The governments were dragging their heels, and I felt pretty powerless. So I looked into it and came across how cheap it was to plant a tree. As a parent, I knew that I would plant a tree for my daughter’s future, and I was pretty sure other parents would do too. So I kept asking ’Siri’ all these different questions, ‘how many children are there in UK education?’… the answer was 10 million. What if every parent planted a tree for each of their children… Now that would be a lot of trees!

‘Hey Siri, how many people are there in the UK’… 66 million. ‘How many businesses are there in the UK’… there are 5.9 million businesses in the private sector.

I had originally been wondering what can I do, I’m just one individual? Well, I quickly realised it’s when we individuals join together that we can achieve the most. As Howard Zinn said “we don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” I suddenly realised we could be the ones driving change and being the solution.

“What can I do, I’m just one individual?”

Once I’d had that idea I just had to do something about it. That’s when I set up JUST ONE Tree, so no matter whether you’re a retailer, builder, teacher, marketing agency or a company like Gas Angel, looking after people’s gas boilers, whatever you do we can collectively make a difference and fight for a brighter future.

In our first year, we launched a nationwide JUST ONE Tree Non-uniform Day which saw 78,000 children in 350 schools across 5 countries take part, raising awareness about climate change, whilst providing a springboard for environmental education. We’ve signed over 35 businesses and most importantly we’ve planted just shy of 750,000 trees. As JUST ONE Tree is a non-profit we actually plant more than just one tree for every pound donated which is why we’ve been able to achieve such high numbers.

“We can collectively make a difference and fight for a brighter future”

Central heating houses

So as you can see we’re already making great strides, but JUST ONE Tree is the conduit. All of this has been achieved by every person that has donated or that has shared a post on social media or asked their school to take part in the JUST ONE Tree Day. I only hope that we can continue to build on this over the coming year.

And finally, just for fun, what’s your favourite tree and plant in your own back garden and why?

My favourite plant is definitely our clematis. We have two varieties and their flowers are just stunning. They make me smile every time I’m in my garden. My favourite tree has to be our lilac tree, it provides us with shade, marks the beginning of spring – making our garden look lovely and the cat loves climbing it. So our whole family gets enjoyment from it.

If you’d like to help protect the planet, and avoid the hassle and expense of a boiler breakdown – take a look at Gas Angel Cover, or call 0191 289 3464.

To read more about Amanda, the JUST ONE Tree team, and the brilliant work they do, click here.

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