We plant a forest
Voluntary CO2 compensation through reforestation in Malawi
We all cause emissions in our daily lives, e.g. through food, travel, housing, heating etc. By rethinking and changing individual lifestyles, many people manage to reduce their personal carbon footprint. However, it is not always possible to avoid emissions completely.(1) Particularly in an economic context, a certain amount of CO2 emissions will remain even if there are many ways to save. To improve our carbon footprint beyond reducing plastic, using green electricity and offering vegan products, we have decided to voluntarily offset CO2 through a climate protection project. However, this should never legitimise environmentally harmful actions or replace reduction efforts.
For the climate, it is not decisive where CO2 is emitted, saved or offset, so emissions caused in one place can be compensated worldwide. Since trees store carbon and thus contribute to relieving the atmosphere, projects for sustainable forest management or reforestation are very suitable for CO2 compensation.(2)
Of course, the first question was how much CO2 we actually emit as a company. With the help of the experts from FORLIANCE, we were able to determine that we caused 1,032 tonnes of CO2 in 2019 through the consumption of heating, electricity and vehicles (the so-called Scope 1 and 2). With the help of our reforestation project "Coffee Fellows Forest" in Malawi, we want to offset these emissions over the next 20 years.
To achieve this goal, about 13ha of land must be afforested. This corresponds to an area of 13 football fields and the planting of about 28,000 trees. The first step was to find a place where such a project could be implemented in a meaningful and holistic way. Together with a local advisor, we went to Malawi in search of suitable areas for the Coffee Fellows reforestation. Near Ntchisi, we were able to lease 13 hectares of land from five farmers for 20 years. We pay the landowners an annual rent and thus give them and their families a predictable, secure income.
With the start of the rainy season at the end of 2020, the seedlings of various local trees that had been grown for almost a year were planted. These will one day form our "Coffee Fellows Forest" and some of them will even bear fruit that will provide food for animals and new habitat. Besides absorbing CO2, the planting of the trees also serves to re-establish native flora and fauna and also to create jobs for many local people. During the fertile rainy season, about 15 people planted about 20,000 of our seedlings every day for six weeks. Work was done from 7am to 4.30pm, with tea and lunch breaks, so that there was a fixed work schedule. Workers were rotated every week to give as many people as possible the chance to earn a living. In this way, almost 70 people could be employed for planting and the time window of the rainy season could be used optimally so that the plants had the highest possible chance of survival. The remaining 8,000 seedlings will be replanted in the next two to three years, as usually not one hundred percent of the trees survive the first critical year. The stand is therefore checked annually and replenished accordingly so that a dense forest can develop.
So after 20 years, we will be able to proudly claim that we have offset our CO2 emissions for 2019. As we also want to offset our environmental impact through reforestation in the coming years, the "Coffee Fellows Forest" will not only grow in height, but also in "width". Each year we will continue to reforest about 13ha of land in Malawi, and in addition to the positive effect on the environment, we will also be able to secure work and income for many more people in Ntchisi.
1 und 2: https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/sites/default/files/medien/376/publikationen/ratgeber_freiwillige_co2_kompensation_final_internet.pdf