07/11/2006 - 21:00

Not for profit: Planting the seeds of change

07/11/2006 - 21:00

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With the issue of carbon emissions firmly on the national agenda, a not-for-profit group in Perth is encouraging members of the public to reduce their carbon footprint.

Not for profit: Planting the seeds of change

With the issue of carbon emissions firmly on the national agenda, a not-for-profit group in Perth is encouraging members of the public to reduce their carbon footprint.

 

Established in June this year, Elementree is recruiting businesses and individuals in a national reforestation project to offset carbon emissions.

 

Courtney Hayes, director of Elementree, said the tree-planting program was a practical solution to addressing climate change.

 

“Aside from some small lifestyle choices, you have little opportunity to make tangible inroads in offsetting the emissions you produce in daily life,” he said.

 

The initial stage of the project requires individuals to calculate their contribution to carbon emissions on the Elementree website, using information about vehicle use, household energy and air travel activity, to produce an estimate of the output generated each year. 

 

The website calculates the number of trees needed to offset this carbon, and participants can pledge to buy this number of trees, at $2.50 each, to be planted at sites around Australia.

 

Mr Hayes said that, while his background was in finance, he had always wanted to own a business and could combine his concern for the environment with this objective.

 

“Long before I first put pen to paper, I needed to convince myself that this was worth paying attention to,” he said.

 

“For more than 18 months I was talking to businesses about the carbon market. I needed to convince myself of the merits of this proposition – is it a meaningful solution?

 

“I immersed myself in the literature and realised it would be an enormous win-win to make a little concept like this grow. The trick is to spend time educating the general community on being carbon neutral.”

 

Native and salt-tolerant species will be used in the program, enabling trees to be planted in marginal and drought-affected areas.

 

Seeds will be bought eight months in advance, to allow them to reach sapling stage in time for planting.

 

More than 50,000 trees have been purchased for planting in WA, with a rapid increase expected before June 2007 and an anticipated future commitment of 500,000 to one million trees annually.

 

“We have an enormous program lined up for next year, with the first planting to be in winter,” Mr Hayes said. “Our first area of interest is the north-east Wheatbelt and low rainfall areas.

 

“We’re hoping by the end of the year to have confirmed one project in every state for next year. We want to be nationwide and the bulk of our customers are in the eastern states at the moment.”

 

The majority of trees will be planted by landholders, whose labour and machinery will be subsidised by Elementree.

 

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