Where is your land?
Our first site is in Dalry, about 30 mins south of Glasgow in Scotland. It is 430 acres/172 hectares. We also own 2,000 acres of land at The Glenaros Estate on the Isle of Mull. It’s being planted with a mixed deciduous forest just like the native one would have been.
Will you buy new land?
Yes, the aim of The Future Forest Company is to buy as much land to reforest as possible. We’ll keep on updating our website with new land information.
Restoring and managing the land
What is agroforestry and why are you using it?
Agroforestry is a land management approach which combines agriculture with planting trees. It boosts productivity of the things we grow, it improves the soil and has positive impacts on the wildlife. The positive effect of agroforestry on carbon sequestration is promising but not well defined, so we are using these techniques because they make our forest healthier and allow us to produce sustainable products, but also to test how much of an effect they have on carbon sequestration. If we can help prove that they increase carbon sequestration on top of all of their other benefits, it will mean that these earth-friendly techniques are more likely to be used all over the world.
What is rotational grazing and how does it work?
Grazing animals are a fundamental and necessary force of natural disturbance that we need to create healthy forests. Animals trample, root, rub, spread manure and disperse seeds, creating favourable conditions for trees and wildflowers to grow. Rotational grazing is an agroforestry technique that uses the power of grazing in a controlled way by splitting up land into many different sections, and allowing animals to graze each section for only a short amount of time. This ensures that the benefits of grazing are realised, without over grazing the land. We use Woolly Mangalitsa pigs to graze our forests as they are a hardy forest breed.
Will you ever harvest timber?
Once the forest is mature (+60 years) we will start harvesting circa 1% per year (only ever for use in high quality furniture or building materials to ensure the carbon is kept locked up) and then replanting to achieve 2 things: (1) A mixed age structure in the forest which is better for biodiversity, and (2) Additional carbon storage through new trees.
What advice are you getting on responsible reforestation?
We’re advised by Scottish Woodlands, who have been designing and managing new forests in Scotland for over 50 years. They also provide our insurance for the forest.
Are the trees planted on a verified tree-planting plan?
Yes, we are following a planting plan approved by NatureScot. We always plant the right tree in the right place, meaning that we plant an appropriate species on appropriate tree planting land. We would never plant on an existing important habitat, or on deep peat.
What trees are you planting?
We are planting for what the native forest would have been. This includes birch, alder, oak and rowan.
Where do you get your trees?
We buy saplings from Alba Trees Nursery. They give us a certificate of provenance with every order, so we know that we are planting trees appropriate for our location in Scotland.
I’ve heard that tree planting isn’t always good for the environment. What can you tell me about this?
It’s true, tree planting isn’t always good. Planting the wrong species, planting monocultures, or planting on inappropriate land (deep peat, wildflower meadows, etc) can do more harm than good. That’s why we have our tree planting scheme verified by NatureScot to ensure that we always plant the right tree in the right place.
What is carbon offsetting?
Carbon offsetting means calculating your carbon footprint and then purchasing equivalent “credits” from projects that prevent or remove the emissions of an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases elsewhere.
I’d like to offset my carbon footprint – how can I do that?
Firstly, look at your lifestyle. There are lots of changes you can make to ensure you reduce the size of your carbon footprint before you think about offsetting – flying less, eating less meat, switching to a clean energy supplier, drive less and try and buy second hand clothes. In our modern lives it is near impossible to get your carbon footprint all the way to zero through lifestyle alone, so to offset the rest you can buy our carbon through our partners, Ecologi and Project Wren.
How do you ensure permanence of the carbon you sequester?
Permanence means how do we guarantee that the carbon we have locked up stays locked up? The three most common pitfalls to permanence are: land use change, natural disturbance and use of harvested biomass.
- Land use change – because we own our land, we can guarantee throughout our lifetimes at least that the land will not be used for anything else. We want to plant forests that stay standing. Even past our lifetimes we are in the process of structuring a covenant that will protect the land from any land use change in perpetuity.
- Natural disturbance – we plant forests in the UK, so luckily we have very low risk of forest fire, drought or storms that could seriously damage our forests.
- Use of harvested biomass – as we explain above we will harvest approximately 1% of timber from forests per year at maturity to both create a mixed-age forest and to replant some trees to sequester more carbon. The danger with harvesting biomass is that if it is burnt, left to rot or used in low quality building materials that aren’t looked after, the carbon is released. Therefore we sell our harvested timber to sustainable, high quality companies using it for furniture or house building, and we turn the offcuts and unused trimmings into biochar and apply it back onto our land.
How do you measure the carbon you have sequestered?
We measure the carbon sequestered in both the trees and the soil every year, and this is done by an independent ecologist. Soil sampling is done by taking soil cores from randomised locations across the whole site at different depths. Tree sampling is done by measuring tree height and diameter from different sampling points around the site (first running a pilot study to quantify variation in tree biomass values per land area as detailed in the UNFCCC protocol and thereby determining the sample size necessary to detect annual change in tree carbon stocks.) We then calculate above-ground dry biomass for each species using allometric equations obtained from the literature, and mean tree density for each species is estimated across the site using the known area cover of each species mix and the overall planting density of trees on site as determined by the survey.
What price do you sell your carbon credits for and why?
We have a relatively high price for our carbon (£20/$25). Land costs are our main price driver, as we strongly believe in the importance of owning the land that we work on. We also wanted to build The Future Forest Company in the UK, and grow forests locally. This means that the land costs are higher than in less developed countries.
Are you a charity?
No, we’re a for-profit company because we want to reforest and restore as much land as we can, and to do that we need to show that forests can be an attractive business model. This allows us to attract funding from investors so we can grow quickly.
How can I get involved?
If you’d like to come and help us plant trees, we’d love to have you! Sign up to our newsletter (in the bottom left hand corner of the page) and you’ll be the first to be invited.
For The Future Forest Company ‘buy a tree’ page
Who plants our trees?
In exchange for payment, Future Forest Company assumes full responsibility for the planting of the Trees and accepts liability for maintaining the trees in accordance with the Planting Specification and the UK Forestry Standard.
How long will it take to plant them and receive the e-certificate?
Though most tree orders will be fulfilled immediately, due to planting requirements, there may be up to 6 months between the order date and tree allocation.
What about forest fires?
The Future Forest Company shall maintain or procure that there is maintained throughout the Period such insurance as Future Forest consider necessary against fire in respect of any trees required to fulfil its obligations under this Agreement.
The Purchaser accepts that any tree purchased through this website will not confer upon the Purchaser any right of ownership of the Trees nor any leasehold or other occupancy right to the land upon which the Trees are planted nor will the Purchaser be entitled to claim any carbon credits or other carbon sink against the Trees or the planting of them.