Project CO20

This project aimed to follow the steps in successfully coordinating with partners in the planting of enough trees to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of Dr Alison Cooke’s lifetime. This is in response to a pledge she made to do so at COP21 in Paris 2015.

The goals set out at the start of this project were as follows:

  • To organise, fund and facilitate the planting of a large number of trees somewhere in the UK, in coordination with appropriate partners.
  • The design, and then practical application, of a method for calculating a person’s carbon dioxide footprint – both for a particular year and over their lifetime.
  • Public engagement - to promote this project as an environmentally sustainable act to offset CO2 emissions, which is accessible to the public.
  • Over summer 2021, Dr Cooke and Esther Tun sought for partners to gather as much information as possible regarding the logistics and costs of planting a woodland of trees in the UK. Dr Cooke found her friend, and Pertwood Manor Farm owner, Dr Rosalind Smith to collaborate with on the planting project using her land in Wiltshire. CO20 enlisted the help and work of land agent Harriet Cartwright from Strutt and Parker and forester Charlie Hunt from Wessex Woodland to help facilitate the planting.

    Information from the World Bank and Carbon, with advice from The Woodland Trust on realistic carbon sequestration of trees, was used to understand the best and most accurate way to calculate Dr Cooke lifetime carbon dioxide emissions and how many trees, or rather what area of woodland, would be needed. The final figure came to approximately 700 tonnes of C02. This included developing a method for calculating one’s lifetime equivalent carbon dioxide emissions – details are available in the Carbon Calculation page.

    Concerning the public engagement element of this project, BBC Look East interviewed Alison at her home in Cambridge on the 25th of October 2021. BBC radio Cambridgeshire and BBC radio Wiltshire also recorded live interviews with Dr Cooke on the 25th and 26th of October 2021.

    Dr Alison Cooke and Rosalind Smith met at Pertwood Manor Farm on the 26th of October 2021 to plant the symbolic first tree and the rest of the planting began on the 24th of January 2022 for approximately 10 days. The project took 1.55 hectares of land and planted 1715 trees with a blend of White Elm (40%), Norway Maple (10%), Wild service tree (10%), Italian Alder (5%), Beech (10%), Sycamore (10%), Western Red Cedar (5%), Norway Spruce (5%), Hazel (2%), and Hawthorn species (3%), at an approximate total cost of £13,000. The estimated number of carbon units that will be sequestered by these trees within 100 years is 748.

    Below is a picture of Dr Cooke and Dr Smith planting the symbolic last tree, a white elm, on the 23rd of February 2022

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