In Conversation With… Mossy Earth
What is Mossy Earth?
Our team shares a passion for the outdoors and the preservation of our natural world. As such we work with one mission in mind, to restore wild ecosystems, support wildlife and biodiversity and help fight climate change. Impact is core to Mossy Earth, so we research, set up and manage specific projects which seek to have the highest environmental return on investment for our members.
How was it started?
Mossy Earth was founded by Duarte de Zoeten and Matt Davies, both keen surfers who share a passion for adventure and the environment.
Chasing waves around the world saw them clock up more than their fair share of air miles, took them to some of the most beautiful places on earth, but also opened their eyes to its fragility. It was this burden of air travel and witnessing first-hand the human driven destruction of our natural world, such as palm oil plantations in Sumatra and the illegal trapping of turtles in Nicaragua, that motivated them to take action.
Three years on and too many extra grey hairs to count, Mossy Earth has successful reforestation and rewilding projects in Scotland, Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Namibia and Portugal.
How does carbon offsetting work and what is carbon sequestration?
Carbon sequestration is the process of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in a stable long-term carbon reservoir. Trees can act as carbon sinks by taking up more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis than they release through respiration. In fact, tree planting, if done correctly is the most reliable way to directly sequester carbon from the atmosphere that is currently available.
Unfortunately, it is not as simple as it may sound and there are a number of carbon offsetting organisations doing it incorrectly. The carbon offsetting industry has become saturated as ever more organisations seek to claim carbon neutrality. On the face of it, this can appear as only being a good thing as many more trees are being planted, however, when you dig a little deeper you discover an uncomfortable truth. Sadly, many carbon offsetting schemes plant non-native, monoculture forests that overtime degrade the land, are devoid of wildlife, contribute to the acidification of soils and rivers, while creating potential flooding and fire hazards.
This is not what Mossy Earth is about!
How do you do it differently?
At Mossy Earth we see carbon offsetting as just one of the many benefits of native tree planting and instead prioritise ecosystem restoration and rewilding. In fact, we do not see ourselves as a typical carbon offsetting organisation and do not issue carbon credits. This allows us to do things differently and address many of the aforementioned concerns that people have about supporting reforestation projects to tackle climate change.
In all our decisions, from project selection to monitoring and implementation, we focus on improving the state of the ecosystem rather than optimising carbon sequestration rates. What’s more, we plant a natural balance of native species with the wider objective of rewilding. Coincidentally, however, by working to establish wild and resilient forest ecosystems we believe we are increasing our chances of creating a stable carbon sink that will continue to sequester carbon for years to come.
Sadly, many carbon offsetting schemes plant non-native, monoculture forests that overtime degrade the land. This is not what Mossy Earth is about!
At Flexi-Hex® we support a reforestation project in Ireland, can you share a little more this project and why it’s important?
Ireland was once the most forested country in Europe yet today it has just 11% tree cover, of which only 2% is native forest. Its once rich woodlands were prized by England for the construction of its cathedrals, the reconstruction of London after the Great Fire and its naval fleets between the 1600s – 1800s.
To compound matters, Ireland today has witnessed a misguided reliance on non-native monocultures of conifer species driven by lucrative government incentives to reduce carbon emissions. These monoculture forests have had a devastating impact on Ireland’s environment in terms of soil acidification, loss of biodiversity and river pollution.
Working closely with our partners, we wish to reverse Ireland’s history by planting the right trees with the right management. We plant a variety of native Willow, Alder, Birch, Scots Pine, Rowan ‘mountain’ Ash, Holly, Blackthorn and sessile Oaks, that will not be sold or clear felled. The trees are planted for native forest restoration.
We believe that carbon offsetting isn’t a license to pollute. While we can’t be perfect, as a company we aim to reduce our carbon output as much as possible. What are your top tips to small businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint?
Yes, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. It is our belief that every attempt should be made to reduce emissions before carbon offsetting is even an option. Once we have done everything in our power as individuals or businesses to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, only then is carbon offsetting the final, logical step. As such we offer our members a CO2 assessment with practical steps to help them minimize their environmental impact. We also have an extensive and freely available collection of low impact living guides, articles and video tutorials, which offer useful solutions to reducing one’s carbon footprint. The guides cover travel, diet, energy, lifestyle, and waste. Here are just a few ideas…
- Avoid or minimise air travel.
- Facilitate an office car share scheme
- Consider installing a shower to encourage employees to walk, run or cycle to work
- Allow your employees to work from home to avoid the commute
- Opt for online meetings whenever possible
- Ensure you are on a legitimate green energy tariff
- Install low energy use office appliances and lighting
- Ensure the office space is well insulated
- Have a recycling system in place
- Compost any organic waste
- Contact suppliers to reduce unnecessary packaging
- Adopting a plastic free or zero waste policy
- Encourage a meat free day once or twice a week
- Is there a small space to have a company veggie bed?
Finally, and a shameless plug, consider setting up a Mossy Eearth team membership for each employee. It not only offsets an employee’s personal emissions by planting 4 trees every month but it is an engaging experience, whereby members can view their trees, vote on project decisions, contribute to rewilding projects and access low impact living guides all from their own mossy earth account.
What has been Mossy Earth’s biggest achievement to date?
Surviving 2020! Joking aside…
In addition to our on the ground impact, a key objective of Mossy Earth is to create independent and sustainable long-term funding mechanisms for these rewilding, reforestation and conservation projects. As such we consider our ability to demonstrate that nature and conservation can be considered economically viable as one of our biggest achievements.