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Trees for Life policies

Environmental policy Becoming Carbon Conscious Renewable Energy Policy Windfarm Statement of Concern

Here at Trees for Life we are looking at the sustainability of our operations, from an environmental, economic and social perspective.

  • We understand that we are part of bigger living systems.
  • We recognise our role as polluters.
  • We reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible.
  • We use locally produced goods and services where we can.
  • We build trusting and collaborative relationships with others.
  • We learn from our mistakes as well as our successes.
  • We make our events and facilities accessible to a wide range of people.
  • Most of our staff cycle or walk to work and we participate in the Cycle Scheme (
  • We share vehicles where possible and encourage volunteers coming on our programmes to travel by train and bus. We hold some meetings via Skype to cut down on travelling.
  • Our main office at Findhorn benefits from electricity supplied by the community's wind turbines.
  • We endeavour to use healthy and unprocessed ingredients where possible and to introduce volunteers to the benefits, both to them and the environment, of a vegetarian diet.
  • There are four key ways in which we work to improve the lives of people in our community:
    • We plant trees and protect wildlife sites.
    • We encourage active citizenship and volunteering.
    • We create opportunities for learning.
    • We support members of our community to develop their health and well-being.

Take action to counter global warming - become carbon conscious

'Tree planting is a contribution towards addressing the issue of global warming, but only as a complement to the most important action - reducing the use of fossil fuels, and the emissions of carbon dioxide that entails.'

Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life Executive Director

Why Trees for Life dissociates itself from the concepts of 'carbon offsetting' and 'carbon neutral'.

It's not possible to truly 'offset' carbon emissions or become 'carbon neutral' by planting trees. The burning of fossil fuels releases carbon that has not been in the carbon cycle for millions of years, and therefore creates a net increase of carbon in the biosphere. Also, by the time a tree reaches the size where it can absorb a certain amount of carbon, the CO2 will already have contributed to global warming.

In addition, promoting the concepts of 'carbon offsetting' and 'carbon neutral' runs the risk of providing an apparent justification for continuing with a fossil-fuel intensive lifestyle and culture, whereas it is a drastic reduction in fossil fuel usage that is required now.

Instead, we invite individuals and organisations to become Carbon Conscious, by committing to take action to reduce emissions, and to plant trees to reduce the impact of those emissions that are unavoidable.

The Problem

The carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of our modern consumer-oriented society are a major contributor to rapid climate change. When fossil fuels are burned, carbon that has been locked away for millions of years is released into the air, causing the Earth's temperature to rise and significant climatic changes to take place. We are already seeing an increase in extreme weather events, and indicators of imminent large-scale climate change, with serious implications for the world as we know it.

As trees and other plants play a vital role in the balancing of CO2 and oxygen levels, widespread deforestation has also had a negative impact, releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere.

The Solution - Become Carbon Conscious!

The most important solution to global warming is to reduce CO2 emissions. Minimising the use of fossil fuels, and living more lightly on the Earth are eminently feasible - all that is required is for each of us to have the commitment to put those principles into practice.

However, it is not possible to eliminate all CO2 emissions immediately, so in the interim we can help to reduce the impact of those emissions that are unavoidable by planting trees. By supporting forest restoration, you will be helping to absorb some of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere, as well as providing habitat for a wide range of very special wildlife, and giving it a better chance of adapting to climate change. However, it is essential that this be combined with effective action from each of us to reduce our CO2 emissions.

Why restore forests with Trees for Life?

Trees for Life is working to restore the Caledonian Forest for the long term (250 years or more), as a fully functioning healthy ecosystem, complete with all its constituent species. Tree planting by itself is not enough, as the wellbeing of the planet depends on the ecological services that intact forests provide. Our work focuses on all parts of the ecosystem, from fungi and insects in the soil to large mammals such as wild boar and beavers, as they are all are essential to the whole.

In addition, because of the long-term vision and timeframe for our project, and due to the remote locations where we work, the trees we plant will grow indefinitely and will never be cut down. They will be there as part of a restored Caledonian Forest for generation upon generation into the future. We see our work as part of the healing of the Earth, and your support will enable this to grow and expand.

How can I help?

Rather than claiming to help you become 'carbon neutral', we offer you the chance to make a real difference and become Carbon Conscious. Here's how:

Whether you're an individual, or a business, we can help you work out whether your 'carbon footprint' is broadly low, medium or high. Based on this, you make an annual donation, which provides us with essential funds to plant trees and carry out our work. This is one part of your contribution to tackling global warming.

The next step involves making a simple commitment to at least one positive change in your lifestyle or business, to reduce your fossil-fuel based carbon emissions. These changes are essential if we really want to make a difference.

Now take action!

Step 1 Work out your carbon footprint

This table is intended to give you a very approximate idea of what your relative emissions might be like. Not everyone fits neatly into a category, but it will give an indication of how much you could consider donating:

Individual / Family

Light energy user

Medium energy user

Heavy energy user

  • Drive less than 5000 miles p.a.
  • Often use public transport
  • Fully insulated home
  • Regularly walk for short journeys
  • We suggest that you donate around £60. This will allow us to plant 12 trees.
  • Drive around 10,000 miles p.a.
  • Occasionally use public transport
  • Partly insulated home
  • Occasionally walk for short journeys
  • We suggest that you donate around £140. This will allow us to plant 28 trees.
  • Drive more than 10,000 miles p.a.
  • Seldom use public transport
  • Non insulated home
  • Seldom walk for short journeys
  • We suggest that you donate around £280. This will allow us to plant 56 trees.


Light energy user

Medium energy user

Heavy energy user

  • Employ less than ten people
  • Service industry
  • Transport few goods
  • No car pool
  • We suggest that you donate around £500. This will allow us to plant 100 trees.
  • Employ less than 100 people
  • Service industry
  • Transport some goods
  • Operate a car pool
  • We suggest that you donate around £2000. This will allow us to plant 400 trees.
  • Employ more than 100 people
  • Manufacturing industry
  • Transport many goods
  • No car pool
  • We suggest that you donate around £10,000. This will allow us to plant 2000 trees!

Step 2 Pledge to take action

Have a look at the list on the link below, and choose at least one change, or step, that you can pledge to make. Once you have done this, we will send you a certificate to thank you for becoming Carbon Conscious, saying how many trees you've had planted, and what action you've pledged to take. You will then know that you have made a real contribution to tackling climate change:

Trees For Life Policy Statement on the Impact Of Renewable Energy Initiatives

The United Kingdom Government is legally committed to meeting 15% of the UK’s energy demand from renewable sources by 2020. The Scottish Government has set ambitious goals to replace fossil fuel energy with renewable sources. A target has been set for the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s electricity demand to be supplied from renewable sources by 2020.

Trees for Life is broadly supportive of initiatives in Scotland that replace fossil fuels with greener renewable energy. As a general principle, these should be diverse, relatively small in scale, and sited in areas that avoid wild and largely natural landscapes. For example, our Findhorn office obtains its electricity from a small scale, community-owned wind farm situated about 500 metres from the building, in an area that has already been heavily-modified by human activities.

Trees for Life recognises that every new initiative carries complex aesthetic, commercial and environmental considerations. Taking a broad, balanced and informed approach, Trees for Life will view renewable energy initiatives, with the potential to make an impact on the ancient Caledonian Forest, on a case-by-case basis but will advocate:

  • assessment of the carbon impact of any initiative
  • open and transparent communication
  • extensive compensatory tree planting
  • wide consultation with environmental and community groups
  • local benefits as the result of any renewable energy initiative
  • minimal visual impact and environmental effects on sensitive wild landscapes
  • maximum benefits for biodiversity from any renewable energy initiative

Where proposals for large scale renewable energy installations and their associated infrastructure are deemed to negatively affect sites we are responsible for (eg Dundreggan Conservation Estate) we will lodge formal objections to the relevant planning applications.

For renewable energy installations that gain planning consent in the areas where we operate, we will seek involvement, where appropriate, in the environmental mitigation measures associated with the schemes.

Windfarm Statement of Concern

Trees for Life is very concerned about the planned wind farm of up to 30 turbines proposed by the company EON for Glenmoriston, and if/when the proposal is submitted for planning permission, we will lodge an objection against it. You can view the reasons for our concern here.


Return to About Us.

Trees for Life is an award winning conservation charity working to restore the Caledonian Forest
and all its species to a large contiguous area in the Highlands of Scotland.

Trees for Life is a registered charity Scottish charity No. SC021303, and a company limited by guarantee No. 143304 with its registered offices at Forres, Scotland.
VAT reg. No. 605079649
Photos © Alan Watson (unless otherwise indicated) - Banner Credits - Illustrations © Caragh McAuley

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