Trees, the lungs of earth
Trees are the foundation of a healthy ecosystem. If our group plants 12 million trees now, we can capture more CO₂ than we emit as from 2030. To have a greater and positive impact on our planet, we are investing in an ambitious afforestation project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Indeed, a global climate problem requires combined efforts.
The benefits of trees
Today, planting trees is one of the most efficient measures against climate change. They absorb carbon dioxide and store it in their biomass (wood, leaves or roots). In addition, they improve soil and groundwater quality and boost biodiversity.
When a tree creates 1 tonne of wood, it has removed about 1 to 2 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. While the wood continues to exist – and is not burnt for example – the CO2 remains stored in it.
How much CO2 a tree absorbs exactly depends on several factors. The tree variety and its age for instance. A tree having a higher wood density will absorb more CO2. Trees that grow fast and live long will also absorb more CO2 than trees with a shorter life.
A promising forest
Considering the 14 different tree varieties we intend to plant in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 10 years later, the forest will absorb at least 12 tonnes of CO2 per year per hectare or a total of 120,000 tonnes!
Picking and planting
We start planting the forest in 2022 to end up with some 10,000 hectares of trees three years later. To choose the tree varieties, we took into account the following goals:
- Stimulate local biodiversity.
- Optimise the forest’s life span.
- Maximise CO2 capture.
- Favour indigenous varieties.
- Provide useful by-products such as fruit, but also attract edible caterpillars.
Consequently, we choose to plant diverse tree varieties in order to create different height levels.
The vegetation layers and variety composition of the forest
To make a well-considered selection of tree varieties, based on scientific insights, we work with the University of Ghent, the Meise Botanic Garden, the Africa museum and local, Congolese experts. The experience of local organisations CADIM and Faja Lobi is also crucial to this project.
More vegetation in Belgium as well
Colruyt Group already planted many trees in Belgium as well. With an average of 725 m² of vegetation per site, we invest more than the average retailer in greenery (green roofs, fronts, experience gardens …) near stores, offices and distribution centres. An average total of 317 trees and 2,603 m² forest plantation a year on our own grounds! In addition, we planted a complete wood along Veugeleer in Halle to give many animals a larger living environment and contribute to the Euopean nature restoration targets and the Plan Boommarter campaign.
Our group also has a forest policy to compensate for deforestation due to the construction of a new site. We do this legally by planting trees or making a financial contribution. Our group decided always to choose new forests with nothing but indigenous trees and covering a surface twice as large as the deforested area.
Joining forces to reach the (tree) top
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.