17th October 2017
In 2015 we kicked off an ambitious project to plant 1 million trees over 10 years in Kenya. Working with smallholder tea farmers in the foothills of Mount Kenya (one of our key tea growing regions), the community reforestation scheme is one of the biggest tree planting projects we’ve ever funded and will deliver a number of benefits.
Firstly, as these trees grow, they will absorb carbon from the atmosphere, offsetting almost 40% of our carbon footprint (measured from bush to supermarket shelf) by sequestering 84,283 tonnes of carbon dioxide. It’s part of our drive for our tea and coffee products to be Carbon Neutral by 2020. Beyond this, the trees planted will provide immediate environmental benefits – reducing soil erosion, supporting fertility, retaining water and so on.
The second objective is more economic. As well as receiving ongoing payments for the carbon their trees absorb, the farmers are encouraged to grow trees that provide other benefits to their farm. Some trees produce cash crops, like mangoes or macadamia nuts, giving farmers an extra source of income; multi-purpose trees that provide shade and wind protection to other crops, making them more resilient to climate change; trees that can be pruned for cattle fodder; trees which can support honey-producing beehives, and even trees that can keep elephants from trampling on their tea!
We’re working with an organisation called The International Small Group and Tree Planting Programme (TIST) to help oversee the project and to provide training and support to participants. As part of the scheme, farmers receive training on conservation farming and agroforestry techniques which will help them to improve the productivity and sustainability of their land.
And it’s a project we’re in for the long haul. When we signed up to support TIST in 2015, we pledged to help them plant new trees for at least ten years, to grow the incomes and resilience of many of the communities who we rely upon for our tea.
By then, those first mangoes and macadamia nuts should be growing too.
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