9Trees was established in 2019 by Michael Cunningham, an experienced habitat and business manager from Wales, who had studied at Bishop Burton Agricultural College in Yorkshire and since taught at Kingston Maurward college in Dorset. Sitting on a flight on his way to take part in humanitarian and conservation projects abroad, he felt uncomfortable about his carbon emissions and wanted to do something to balance them. Working out that the average UK citizen would need to plant nine trees a year to balance their carbon, he committed to plant those trees, first for himself, then for friends and family, and now for as many people in the UK as he can.
9Trees have come up with a really unique and innovative way to sustainably create new woodland. Instead of purchasing land themselves, they are leveraging the collective power of altruistic landowners who want to give back their land to nature. 9Trees does all of the pre and post management for 50 years, linking up conservationists and ecologists with expertise, utilising local conservation contractors to provide the correct equipment and purchasing all the trees and materials needed to start the woodland as well as coordinating and gathering the sponsorship. A massive part of what 9Trees does is maintaining the woodland for the next 50 years to ensure that it at least meets its carbon sequestration aims.
Finding the land is only the tip of the iceberg, then the real work begins; funding the creation and management of the woodlands. To do this they attract like-minded businesses to partner with, who fund individual projects. 9Trees are happy to hold businesses to account and make sure they are committed to more than just offsetting their carbon. To be accepted into a partnership, businesses must have genuine desire to get involved in improving biodiversity and have the credentials to prove this. Where they don’t yet have this ability but have a genuine desire to make a difference, 9Trees often support them with advice on how to achieve their environmental goals.
The success of their award winning business model means that 9Trees will be able to sustain itself well into the future. They have big ambitions to keep growing, creating sites all over the UK and creating employment opportunities in woodland and habitat management.
Another key aim of the organisation is to provide woodland that is accessible to people, providing mental health benefits well into the next few generations. Many of the woodlands they create are accessible for people to enjoy. Each site has a ‘walkabout sheet’ so you can visit and have an understanding of the area. They are currently developing the ability to geotag trees for the people and businesses that fund them – meaning they can go and visit their trees.
9Trees are currently working on a new woodland site at Llandeilo in Mid Wales, securing stewardship for the next 50 years. A grant from the Matthew Good Foundation will help to purchase trees and associated planting equipment for this site, where they are planting 5,000 trees, managing the hedgerows and creating wildflower areas to attract local wildlife. The organisation also plans to use funds raised to employ a 9Trees Coordinator to work throughout the UK, covering site activities and community engagement and education.
We are delighted to be shortlisted to receive this funding. If we get the funding not only will you be giving locals in Mid Wales a chance to gain employment in the countryside sector, you will be enabling the local schools and community members to engage with activities in regards to helping to tackle climate change. Ultimately you will be helping us to educate, inspire and achieve our goals to create biodiverse woodlands across the UK and sequester thousands of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere and support a nature-rich habitat for wildlife to thrive.
When we met with the founder of 9 Trees we were really impressed with their approach. They have been growing steadily but they are at a pivotal point in their journey and we expect that with support they will grow rapidly. The great thing about this organisation is that it is incredibly focussed on biodiversity and the many benefits woodlands create on both the planet and people, rather than focusing on carbon sequestration. This combined with their approach of partnering with landowners and local communities gives a much better chance of the benefits remaining for the long-term.
Latest Project Updates
After becoming one of the top five finalists in the latest Grants for Good Round, £2,000 was granted.