Scottish environmental firm plants 30,000 trees to go carbon negative

The MacArthur Green tree planting group

A GLASGOW environmental consultancy has planted 30,000 trees in Argyll as part of its plan to become a carbon negative business. 

The new Lochgair woodland in Argyll, comprising native trees, will remove over 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the next 100 years. 

As well as creating over 18 hectares of new woodland, the project will protect and enhance eight hectares of existing oak woodland and almost six hectares of peatland habitat, which is an important carbon sink. 

MacArthur Green, an environmental consultancy owned by David and Kirsty MacArthur, planted the woodland and registered it under the government-backed Woodland Carbon Code in 2019. 

MacArthur Green’s goal with this project is to be a carbon-negative business while creating benefits for Scotland’s nature. 

So far the project, including land purchase, has cost over £300,000. A forestry grant of almost £75,000 was awarded from Scottish Forestry to cover the costs of woodland planting.  

David MacArthur said: “As an environmental consultancy we believe it is necessary to change the way we operate to help combat the climate crisis. 

“Planting a native woodland felt like the obvious choice for us. They are nature’s way of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while also providing a home for wildlife. 

“We believe that our clients will value and support our carbon-negative approach, so we see this as an investment, not a cost.” 

The team has gone through various stages in their quest to become carbon negative. 

David MacArthur said: “We had our carbon footprint independently assessed in early 2019 and found that we emitted almost 53 tonnes of carbon dioxide in one year. 

“By July 2019 we had put in place a carbon reduction plan and offset 106 tonnes of carbon dioxide, twice the carbon we were emitting.”

MacArthur Green has already added one hybrid electric car to its fleet and plans to upgrade all vehicles to hybrids or pure electric by 2021; all 30 employees travel by rail for mainland UK meetings. 

This year they plan to install an electric charging point at their Glasgow office so that they can buy plug-in hybrid vehicles for the field survey team to use. 

The company owners want to encourage other SMEs to follow their example, and for the Scottish and UK governments to support more businesses to reduce their carbon footprint. 

David MacArthur said: “We want to help more SMEs in Scotland and the wider UK become carbon neutral or, even better, carbon negative. Imagine the positive environmental impact that could have. 

“SMEs make up the vast majority of the UK’s 5.7 million businesses, so we have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis.

“One of the main hurdles we faced was understanding the steps involved in reducing and offsetting our carbon footprint. So, we decided to create a guidance note, setting out how we became carbon negative, and the lessons learned. We are sharing it and a mini-film on our website to make it easier for other SMEs to achieve this.

“Businesses can read exactly how we’ve gone about becoming carbon negative and the level of investment involved.

“Hopefully this will spark conversations and action from businesses and policymakers. The Scottish and UK governments could do more to encourage SMEs to reduce their carbon footprint.” 

The MacArthur Green team plans to meet with business leaders, politicians and other stakeholders in coming months to encourage more companies to go carbon negative. 

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