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People of the woods

Words by Dan Warden

Bringing businesses, individuals and landowners together to rebuild the Celtic rainforest.

Did you know that 60% of wildlife in the UK has been lost in the last 40 years? Largely due to the loss and destruction of precious and delicate habitats, this startling, upsetting and eye-opening statistic is an all too familiar story nowadays. But over the course of DRIFT Abode, we’ve nevertheless been able to find solace – that as awareness grows of the many environmental crises our planet is facing, there are many home and interior businesses here in Cornwall who are striving to do their bit to secure a brighter, greener and more sustainable future for their industries. A future that, with their help, we as home owners can proudly become a part of.

Led by Co-Founders and Directors, Carl Rowlinson and Rai Lewis, Plant One Cornwall takes a different tack to the growing challenge of safeguarding our planet’s future. As a registered Community Interest Company, its driving goal is to put trees in the ground for the benefit of us all.

“Britain was once a wooded isle, with over 98% of the land covered in trees,” says Carl. “Now, only 2% of that ancient wild wood survives.” He points to the idea of what he calls “cultural amnesia”, which has meant we, as a society, have forgotten our woodland past. What Plant One hopes to achieve, is to re-connect the community with this ancient heritage, and enable the planting of trees where they’re most needed. “By restoring the Celtic rainforest, we can both create and improve habitats for wildlife. We’re highly conscious of the importance of our native habitats.

“We also provide expertise to landowners, enabling them to increase biodiversity on their holdings; we create public access woodland, increase our landscape’s ability to capture carbon, and support local communities to increase the UK’s canopy cover.”

Known otherwise as the ‘temperate rainforest’, the Celtic rainforest is a truly special habitat that’s becoming increasingly rare around the world. Here in the UK, Cornwall is one of only a handful of regions that are home to this kind of environment and in fact, according to the Woodland Trust, the planet’s temperate rainforests are thought to be more threatened than their tropical counterparts. Their importance lies not only in their ability to act as a ‘carbon sink’, but also in the fact that their lush conditions are perfect for scarce plants, lichens and fungi, as well as an array of unusual animals.

So how does Plant One Cornwall achieve its goals? How do Carl and the team hope to restore the vitality of the shrinking Celtic canopy? “Cornwall has the lowest canopy cover in the whole of Europe and we are trying to change that,” explains Carl, “by connecting businesses, landowners and communities to realise tangible environmental outcomes on a local level.” One way is by working with Cornwall’s amazing businesses, to help them offset their footprints with the all-important planting of new trees. And what better example than Post & Beam? Known regionwide for their astonishingly beautiful timber buildings, the Cornish based specialists at Post & Beam have joined up with Plant One Cornwall to offset their construction process. In fact, for each tree used to manufacture their beams, explains Carl, “they will be planting two with us”.

Other businesses include Simon Annear Plumbing, Heating and Electrical, one of Cornwall’s leading contractors who have pledged to plant one tree per boiler, air-source heat pump or solar panel installations; and Mel Chambers at Alchemy Tiles, who is crafting a bespoke set of tiles to raise money for Plant One.

On the planting itself, Carl says: “We conduct in-depth land surveys on each site to make sure it’s suitable for woodland creation, before we plant. This ensures we don’t plant on rare habitats such as upland moor and peatlands. If a site isn’t suitable, we don’t plant. Simple as that.”

Currently buying all trees from the British Hardwood Tree Nursery, Plant One does one day intend to make the switch to Cornish grown trees, something they’re surely bound to achieve as they continue to work in partnership with companies like Post & Beam. But whether or not they are grown in Cornwall, the trees Carl and the crew plant are nonetheless vital to the ‘rewilding’ of our open spaces. Referring back to our cultural amnesia, Carl reminds us: “We are people of the woods. Our fates are linked, and ensuring the survival of our woodlands and trees is imperative to our future.”


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