Why we’re planting 1 million trees

Today I’m delighted to announce that MSQ are pledging to plant 1 million trees through the “Million Tree Pledge” scheme. The reason for doing it is perhaps obvious given the amount of focus on climate change, and the importance of a business’ role in helping to tackle the problem. However, there is some conflicting science around both tree planting and carbon offsetting, so I wanted to clarify a few reasons why it’s important to us. 

Doing the right thing 

First of all, it’s important to state that this is very much in addition to our work to be a carbon negative organisation. MSQ offsets more tonnes of CO2e (“carbon dioxide equivalent”; the standard measure of all greenhouse gasses combined) than we produce as a business. We have an aggressive 3-year plan to halve our carbon footprint per head by 2024 and are working on our more formal Science Based Targets for 2030. And because we will never reduce the amount of offsetting that we do, we will become more and more carbon negative over time, as our footprint reduces.  

Going further 

We chose to be a carbon negative organisation because many companies and individuals aren’t able to focus on climate change (often due to understandable financial constraints). So those companies and individuals that are able to extend their commitment, must do all that they can. 

Planting 1 million trees is just an extension of our drive to go beyond what we need to do simply in terms of reducing and offsetting our own company footprint. Our environmental sustainability goals are focussed on going much further as an organisation as well as trying to support and influence others wherever we can. 

It is estimated humanity has cut down over 3 trillion trees (almost 50% of the world’s total), with a current rate of 15 billion a year being lost.  We need to put these back and embark on mass reforestation and rewilding. It’s vital that we do this given the benefits that come from improving the planet’s biodiversity, beyond just those relating to the climate crisis. 

Our 1 million 

To help contextualise 1 million trees, that’s around 20,000 acres (or 15,000 football fields) and those trees will eventually produce enough oxygen for 2 million people to breathe. The amount of carbon dioxide that a tree absorbs is debated (and it’s clear that planting trees alone is not a scalable solution to climate change) but, once they are mature, they will absorb around 24,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. That’s about 8 times the total emissions of MSQ’s global operations, and about the same as 8,000 cars. 

How we’ll do it 

The tree planting for The Million Tree pledge is managed by our existing offsetting and tree planting partner Ecologi. And in the next few weeks Ecologi should be launching their new “meta forest” feature which will mean that we can see all of the trees that have been planted so far, by all those that have pledged. We’ll keep you posted on that.  

What impresses me most about Ecologi is that their projects focus on maximising the impact of the trees. Their sites are in 8 countries, including Madagascar, Indonesia and Mozambique, chosen to maximise the positive impact on nature – for example, planting Mangroves in the Madagascan rainforest absorbs four times more C02 than the average tree. 

And finally, let me answer an obvious question! How long will it take to plant 1 million trees? Well, we’re aiming to have them planted over the next 5 years. We’ll plant trees as a gift to ourselves at Christmas, and to celebrate things like agency anniversaries! 

Pay it forward 

Part of taking the pledge is also about seeing if you can get at least 2 other companies to join in the initiative, so that the scheme starts to grow exponentially. If you’d like to learn more about how your company could get involved, then please get in touch. The founder of this amazing initiative, Marcus Hemsley, is part of the BIMA Sustainability Council that I co-chair and I’d be delighted to make any introductions.