Last month we were again reminded, by the IPCC, that our climate is in a bad way, and that things will only worsen from hereon out. Record forest fires have wrecked rich and poor regions alike, with huge CO2-emissions as a consequence. And this week it was confirmed that July was the warmest month since we started measuring in 1850.
What to do? Does it even matter to plant trees anymore? EVERYTHING matters. Every kilo of COCO2 we can sequester matters and will lessen the destructive impacts. We owe it to future generations to do everything we can to reduce the warming impacts we are causing.
And as if abrupt climate change and natural disaster isn’t enough, our planters also have to battle COVID and Dengue fever in Madagascar. Two waves of COVID hit the people on the ground, as well as a simultaneous outbreak of Dengue fever.
We write this update report against a very dire background this past year. Thankfully, we also bring good news in finishing our first 127-hectare site in Madagascar, having achieved great learnings on robustness of planting density, and we are on to our next site, neighboring the first site (see pictures at the end of the update).
Since starting planting on Madagascar with Eden Projects, we have now reached full planting of our first site, topping out at 127 hectares. According to our simple rule of thumb, at 20 tons of CO2 per hectare, that gives us a sequestering of 2,540 tons of carbon in trees and soil!
At the same time, we rejoice that these mangroves protect the Madagascar shoreline against erosion and that Eden now (Summer of 2021) employs 37 full time employees, planting mangroves for us and other climate aware organizations. Read more in the report from Eden: Grow For It, 2nd Year Update Reforestation Report, Antsanitia 2.
Increased planting density
Grow For It´s mangrove trees were initially planted with one sapling per sq.m., but due to difficult conditions for the saplings, the planter teams in Madagascar have learned that up to two saplings per sq.m. provides a better overall protection (especially against waves) and thereby ensures the longevity of the total population of mangroves. From this learning (and other similar mangrove sites) Eden Projects have gained valuable experience, and we are very happy to have them as a partner – they are truly a trustworthy partner.
Eden have explained to us that future plantings will be with up to two saplings per sq.m. And according to this USAID expert report (USAID report, pdf) it can be argued that densities of even up to 16 saplings per sq.m. may be feasible for planting in very harsh conditions. However, from our experiences from similar projects, we estimate that one-four saplings per sq.m. should be feasible for our sites at Madagascar. In this regard, comparing to lumber forest should not be done, where densities are lower, as these mangrove trees are planted for climate and ecosystem purposes.
The increased density will influence future price per hectare, and we are currently in dialogue with Eden on how to define the actual sequestering potential for the new density. More on this later.
Welcome to the new site (same as the old site, only opposite side of the “river”)
The new site is almost identical in size, as it is 125 hectares (vs. the old site of 127 hectares). In all other respects, the same conditions apply – erosion haunts the area, which is why only mangrove trees are feasible to plant and the only safeguard against erosion.
If you want to take a closer look at the new site, it is located at: 15°34’5.10”S, 46°26’10.05”E
In sum, we are very happy working with Eden Projects and we hope to include them in our planting portfolio many years into the future.
Earlier this year, we calculated different ways of calculating CO2 emissions from air transport (link), and in these news we also discussed the so-called condensation trails effect, which is additional impacts (radiative forcing) on global warming to a greater extent than just the CO2 emitted from aircraft engines. The climate impact is exacerbated by the fact that emissions occur at high altitudes, by the formation and impact of condensation streaks, water vapor, NOx emissions, soot particles and sulfur dioxide. All these factors contribute (although some of them counteract each other) to CO2 emissions being multiplied by at least a factor of two in order to capture the full effect… and that seemed like a reasonable assumption until now (as it was about a factor of two most of our sources in the aforementioned article). The UN’s climate panel IPCC has so far assumed that one should multiply by a factor of two or three, which also testifies to uncertainty about the subject.
But in September 2020, the EU aviation agency EASA finally released an alarming update to these additional impacts, and it now turns out that we should actually multiply emissions by a factor of three – and not just two. EASA points out that it has become wiser in the field over the last ten years.
And we listen to institutions that become wiser; we listen to the IPCC and the EU, and this means that we have to raise our estimate for aircraft compensation, from approx. 300 to 600 g CO2 emitted per flight kilometer in economy class (See calculations in the original news on the subject (link).
On the positive side, this report means that the European Commission now recommends introducing stricter tariffs on emissions of not only CO2 in the ETS but also on other emissions, e.g. NOx. But as action in this area takes time, we continue to plant trees today!
Man-made CO₂-emissions are generated in multiple sectors. In Denmark the bulk of our CO₂ equivalent emissions are generated in the agricultural sector, in the supply (energy) sector, and in the transportation sector.[i] In the national Danish CO₂-accounts emissions from international transport are currently not accounted for, making it difficult to place the responsibility. Consequently, responsibility is transferred to the individual organization or citizen (until we find a way to account for international emissions in our national accounts).
International aviation currently accounts for about 2% of global emissions, expected to increase dramatically in the years to come. 95% of traffic pertains to passenger travel, while 85% of it is of a private nature. Remarkably, only about 3% of the Earth’s citizens are flying regularly. In 2020 air traffic had increase by 70% since 2005, expected to increase by an additional 300% as we approach 2050[i].
Although flying, until we invent sustainable fuels, necessarily will emit relatively large amounts of CO₂ per traveled km, CO₂ offsetting, by means of planting trees, is a sustainable way to make a difference. Planting trees is good for the environment and creates local jobs. The fastest and cheapest way we in the private sector can offset our CO₂-emissions, is by planting mangrove trees (forests in saltwater areas) in countries with low wages, as exemplified by DAT[i]. Mangrove trees pull about 20 tons CO₂ from the atmosphere per hectare of forest[ii]. That is twice as effective as trees planted on land, while simultaneously protecting coast lines and functioning as a kindergarten for wildlife living among the roots.
[i]https://dat.dk/iflygreen (Danish airline specialized in domestic air travel in Denmark)
[ii]Donato (2011), Nature.com
Click here to see the latest pictures from Grow For It’s area in Antsanitia, Madagascar, latest updated in May, 2020, as we achieved our Grove Partner level with Eden Projects. On the Antsanitia site alone, Grow For It has planted donor trees for amounts corresponding to the planting of half a million trees. Put in another way; on this one site Grow For It has planted trees to offset for about 1000 tons of yearly CO₂-emissions.
Calculation of CO₂-emissions from international aviation
In 2019, the Technical University of Göteborg, Chalmers, developed a new tool for calculating air traffic pollution as a function of distance. The tool has been created due to the increasing negative impact of air traffic on the environment (See calculations in the Appendix 1 below).
The tool is easy to use and based on historical data from 1990-2017. Below we have made a comparison of the most popular tools used to calculate the CO₂-emissions from air travel.
We believe, as IPCC recommends, that it is vital to look – not only at pure CO₂-emissions – but also account for the effect of the emissions happening in high altitude. This is also known as radiative forcing and can be seen as white condensation trails[i] on the blue sky.
[i]Kondensstriber = strålingspåvirkning = Radiative forcing (link to .pdf on IPCC web site)
When we include radiative forcing, using Chalmers’ figures, we end up at an average figure of around 0,300 kg of CO₂–equivalent (CO₂e) emissions per flown kilometer with economy class (see Table 2b in Appendix 1 below). Economy class is important as the figure would be higher for more expensive tickets, due to fewer passengers per flight. We therefore recommend to plant trees corresponding to 300 g CO₂ emitted per flown km on economy class.
Appendix 1: Comparison of different calculators’ methods to CO₂e / kmTable 1a) Comparison of kg CO₂e emitted per person round trip for typical distances, excl. radiative forcing (see sources below), economy class:
Tabel 1b) Comparison of kg CO2e emitted per km excl. radiative forcing, economy class:
We have great news to share with you: Grow For It is now a “Grove partner” at Eden Reforestation Projects – which means we have donated more than 50,000 dollars worth of plantings!
We are extremely proud of this, and simultaneously we can announce that we have received donations for plantings until October this year, so that is very nice indeed!
50.000 dollars means we have secured more than half a million trees planted, corresponding to about 1.000 tons of co2 abated each year, and we are now in the company of giant companies like the US internet provider Verizon!
For the local community, it also means that we (the donors!) have established the foundation for local jobs, putting in more than 5,000 hours, i.e. almost three full-time employees in Madagascar!
Read more: https://edenprojects.org/partners/#grove-partners
We still have some way to go before we are in league as the really large donors, such as Ecosia and 10tree, who have each donated over $ 1 million.)
Watch the cool tree planters in the video, forwarded by Eden Projects! More than 12 million trees planted in April, all around the world – in the midst of a corona crisis! https://youtu.be/zME9JhussI
If you would like to take a look at the location via GPS, please find the coordinates in this picture:
We have begun calendar year 2020 and it is with good news and fresh pictures from Madagascar!
In 2019 we planted a total of 34 hectares of mangrove forest, some of which can be seen in the pictures above. We are very proud of that achievement.
The picture on the left shows the wetland where the mangrove trees are planted. In the picture on the right you can see how the soil in some places needs trees with strong roots to alleviate erosion – for this the mangrove trees play their part.
Eden Projects document the work by taking pictures, so we can keep an eye on this at a distance (we are very satisfied with this agreement!). The photos above are from October as it takes some time to get the photos from the field back to Eden Project’s local headquarters in Mahajanga.
Som det kan ses på billederne herunder, benytter man (udover fotografens kamera 😉) den teknologi, man har til rådighed – dvs. ingen high tech waders eller tablets – og det vil også sige, at donationerne går fuldstændigt til træplantning, ikke til teknologileverandører eller andet godtfolk. Vi er i sandhed i gang med at starte noget nyt og stort op på Madagascar!
And as can be seen in the pictures below, you use (besides the photographer’s camera) the technology you have available – i.e. no high tech waders or tablets – and that means that the donations go fully to tree planting, and not to technology providers or other good people. We are indeed starting something new and big on Madagascar!
When the images arrive at headquarters, they are sent to the Eden Project department in the United States (unless cyclones or other terrible weather render the internet connection difficult – and they have had plenty of terrible weather over the past few months). In the US, the images go through an approval process and then they can be passed on to us. But it is all worth the wait – we really appreciate Eden Projects as a transparent and reliable partner in tree planting.
And last but not least, we’ve just asked Eden Projects to increase the volume from four to five acres per month so at present we expect to plant a total of 60 acres in Madagascar by 2020.