For the second year in a row Just Trees, a nursery in Paarl in the Western Cape, is taking steps to ensure that the trees it is selling carry no residual carbon footprint. The nursery conducted an internal assessment and then calculated its carbon footprint under the guidelines set out in the GHG Protocol. This was then reviewed by experienced carbon footprint analysts all regulated by The Carbon Protocol South Africa.
It might be assumed that a nursery – by virtue of its business being trees – is ‘green’ by default. But take into account factors such as the electricity, fuel, fertilizer, containers, plastic bags, paper and transport that are required to produce trees and, like any other product, a container-grown tree can tread heavily on the earth in terms of the carbon footprint it leaves behind.
Through the carbon footprint analysis it was determined that Just Trees generated 477 tons of CO2 emissions for the 2011 financial year. As well as taking steps to reduce its emissions – by decreasing energy use, being water-wise and improving on transport efficiencies, for example – Just Trees chose to offset its remaining carbon footprint by donating 1 274 trees to Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) to be planted in the Western Cape, subsequently rendering Just Trees carbon neutral.
Carl Pretorius, managing director of the nursery, says, "In these times where people and our earth are facing extreme weather conditions, pollution problems and social upheaval, the very least we can do as a business is to be environmentally conscious. Planting trees through FTFA’s ‘Trees for Homes’ project not only maintains Just Trees’ carbon neutral status, but also helps green the environment in less advantaged areas. This in itself has many positive social spin-offs."
During October, 274 trees were delivered to Goedgedacht and a further 1 000 trees to the residents of the barren settlement of Mbekweni in the Western Cape. The trees were distributed at community events organised by Trees for Homes at different community centres within the settlement.