One important thing to both Victoria and myself is the carbon footprint and the impact on our planet. Unfortunately, we do not have a planet B, so we must start thinking of future generations. Many first nations people worldwide make decisions based on the next seven generations ahead, understanding that we are only borrowing this space from future generations.

This led to a conversation Victoria, and I had about what we can do to help alleviate what we are doing with our fossil fuel consumption.

It was an interesting conversation as we wanted to do more. Our consults take us to all sorts of places. While we have a very positive impact not just on landscapes but also on people’s lives, there is still that underlying truth. That fuels have been used while we were in service to our client and their landscapes.

The question remained, “what can we do?”

The short answer was simple – let us plant more trees. HUZZAH

The next part was not so simple. How many????

I will freely admit that one of the sessions I had at Tafe may have not been used to its more significant advantage as I dived into the subject.

First off was looking at the types of cars we drove. It is incredible how much information is available now about our vehicles and their carbon footprint per km. For example, one vehicle was 114g/km, and the other was 197g/km.

At the time, we were both doing a lot of running around. Not just for our work but for other jobs and children activities, so we decided to look at the footprint as a whole rather than just focus on the permaculture work.

Knowing the KM’s over the year and the emissions of our vehicles made it a simple calculation to work out their carbon footprint from the travel.

With that figure, the question again was, “how many trees to bring that back into balance?”

That question turned into a vast research task. There are several different tree varieties, from exotic to native, and each has a different impact. While some species are excellent at drawing down carbon, they also have the potential to become very aggressive in an area and upset the delicate balance of our native environment.
So the decision was made to just stick to native trees.

Again, now that it had been narrowed down to a point, there still was the difference between each species, then taking bioregions and local microclimates into account.

It really was challenging, but ultimately we had to work with averages. While not perfect, any other choice would have led down the path of ‘paralysis through analysis.’
Many research papers on the subject talked about the average drawdown for the typical hardwood tree. That number is 48 pounds per year or just under 22kg.
Excellent, now we’re getting somewhere. So knowing what our vehicles impact through usage per Km, the Km’s driven and then how much the average hardwood tree would uptake gave me something to work with.

With some quick mathematics and still trying to hide what I was doing while in class, we worked out how many trees we needed to plant per year to help offset our work and personal travel. 

So, after all of that, it turned out to be 10 trees a week. 520 trees a year. And that also gives us some extra to spare just in case I got my maths wrong. Now that figure for our footprint has changed.. It has dropped considerably, but I still plant 10 a week – I figured it was a good habit to have.

So every week, while out and about in various regions and places, we source 10 trees locally in tub stock and then plant them in and around local nature reserves and untouched areas. 

Again while not perfect, it did give us something tangible we could do. Permaculture is a solution-based design process. 
And honestly, it is the doing that matters.

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