A unique ecological project titled CO2MPENSATING BY PLANTING – the first Croatian program for compensating CO2 emissions by planting trees – was presented at the Zagreb Botanical Garden on the occasion of Earth Day.
The project is organised by the Croatian Scout Association, the HEARTH company and Croatian Forests as an innovative response to the consequences of climate change.
This is the first such programme in Croatia, and in the region, and is intended for companies and other organisations that want to compensate for CO2 emissions by planting trees and neutralising their own carbon footprint and become a positive example of care for the environment and community.
As the organisers state on the occasion of Earth Day, climate change is one of the greatest threats to humanity today, and our actions now will determine what kind of world we will live in in 10, 20 or 50 years.
“The effects of climate change are visible to us locally, but also worldwide. It is planting trees, thanks to their natural ability to absorb and bind CO2, that is the way to fight climate change very effectively and easily. By afforestation, we can partially or completely neutralise the carbon footprint of an individual company, organisation or community,” organisers said.
The CO2MPENSATING BY PLANTING project enables just that – every company, organisation, but also individual, can plant their trees or even an entire forest in several locations in Croatia and thus compensate for the produced CO2 emissions and partially or completely neutralise their carbon footprint.
“By organising the now largest European afforestation campaign, Boranka, in which scouts, together with numerous partners, gathered more than 7,000 volunteers and planted more than 85,000 trees in the fire-effected areas of Dalmatia, we gained valuable experience. However, planting trees and compensating for the CO2 emissions produced in this new project are not an end in themselves, but a means of reducing harmful CO2 emissions altogether and behaving more responsibly towards nature and the environment. By organising educational workshops in schools, practical trainings in nature, public information campaigns and education of companies and their employees, we want to raise awareness of the role and responsibility of all of us in the pollution we create and encourage citizens, companies and the community to behave more responsibly,” Dan Špicer, project manager and Business Director of the Croatian Scout Association said.
The organisers also anticipated that companies entering the CO2MPENSATING BY PLANTING project should make their own carbon footprint calculation and commit to CO2 reduction activities. That part of the emissions that will not be able to be reduced in other ways, will be able to be compensated through the project by planting trees.
“Project beneficiary companies are entitled to a special CO2MPENSATING BY PLANTING certificate. By using it, they show that they compensate their CO2 emissions by planting trees, but more importantly, they show and take long-term responsibility and care for the environment in which they live and work, as well as their focus to make that environment better and greener for all of us,” said Damir Ciglar, CEO of HEARTH.
Croatian Forests is the main co-organiser of the project and responsible for the selection of afforestation sites, supervision and implementation of voluntary planting actions, procurement of seedlings and their maintenance. Croatian Forests experts will participate in the implementation of educational activities and training of volunteers in planting actions.
The Hrvoje Požar Energy Institute carries out carbon footprint calculations with action plans and a strategy to reduce the total CO2 emissions of each company and helps calculate the amounts and types of emissions that will be compensated by planting trees. From the professional point of view, the Croatian Forestry Institute will help in the selection of planting species resistant to climate change and the calculation of CO2 absorption per individual planted area, and will also help in the implementation of educational activities.
“As much as man feels climate change, the forest feels it even more, through global warming, long periods of drought, strong and stormy winds, devastating fires, attacks by numerous pests and the like. But the forest is at the same time our biggest ally against climate change and therefore we must help it to be in a stable and vital state to withstand all that they bring to it. Croatian Forests is constantly working to restore forests and raise their quality, and we are glad that the public is increasingly sensitised to the issue of forest conservation, as shown by this project, which we gladly accepted and joined, and will certainly contribute to raising awareness of how to try to mitigate the devastating consequences of climate change,” said Igor Fazekaš from Croatian Forests.
The entire CO2MPENSATING BY PLANTING project, afforestation and education actions, is funded by the project partner companies. That companies are well aware of their responsibility for a better and greener future and environmental well-being, as well as their readiness to reduce their CO2 emissions by their own example and compensate for the remaining emissions by planting trees in Croatia, is confirmed by the entry of the first two large companies – Coca-Cola HBC Croatia and Raiffeisenbank.
“Coca-Cola HBC Croatia continuously cooperates on its own projects or provides support to other initiatives aimed at promoting positive social and environmental values in the community. Commitment to the vision of a sustainable future for all of us is the strength of our business through which we successfully achieve the set goals in the field of sustainability, including reducing the impact of our production processes on the environment. With the latest Sustainability Report of our company for 2019, we have confirmed the reduction of CO2 emissions by 14% in a period of two years, and with innovations in the production and packaging of our products we estimate that we will achieve a reduction of 400 tonnes of CO2 this year. We are also proud of the fact that 100% of the electricity we use comes from renewable sources. This project therefore naturally builds on our many years of efforts to reduce our own carbon footprint and we are grateful to the organisers for the innovative idea and recognition of our company as an indispensable partner,” said Mirjana Brlečić Bujanić, Head of Public and Regulatory Affairs at Coca-Cola HBC Adria.
“As a sustainable bank, we want to reduce our carbon footprint and be at the forefront of initiatives that positively impact the environment. We calculated that our CO2 footprint in 2019 was 303 tonnes. We are determined that we need to act, so we will plant 2,000 trees this year by volunteering. By 2030, we aim to be completely CO2 neutral and as a bank to become a leader in sustainable development and initiatives. We have decided to finance investments that unite economic and environmental development. Sustainability is a key part of our business and the most important filter through which we will pass our every business decision. So we have already stopped financing those investments that are related to coal. Especially we, in the financial industry, can make a strong contribution to the decarbonisation of the economy and our lives. Through our Yellow goes Green initiative, we actively support clients in green investments, and we educate our colleagues on how to be sustainable in their workplace,” said Sara Foršek, Sustainability Manager at Raiffeisenbank.
Organisers will announce the beginning of planting actions and educational activities this autumn. Planting and education actions will be held every spring and autumn, and it is expected that numerous domestic and foreign companies will enter the program and that a large number of citizens will be involved.
More details about the project can be found on the website – www.compensatingbyplanting.com