The Queen’s Jubilee tree planting scheme was sponsored by companies linked to deforestation, campaigners say.
Across the country, people have been asked to ‘plant a Jubilee tree’ in honor of the Queen’s 70-year reign.
The Queen’s Green Canopy The scheme will dedicate a network of 70 ancient forests across the UK and identify 70 ancient trees to “celebrate 70 years of Her Majesty’s service”.
This move aims to reforest the UK. However, concerns have been raised by a campaign group about some of the programme’s “platinum” sponsors, who are listed on the official website. These include McDonald’s, which has been linked to deforestation in Brazil.
Another platinum sponsor is Coutts, the Queen’s Bank. As a member of NatWest GroupCoutts invests in various companies that activists from the reforestation NGO Wild Card accuse of profiting from deforestation.
These include the electricity company Drax, which uses biomass as fuel. In 2021, Drax Power Station in Yorkshire burned 8.3 million tonnes of pellets made from around 16.6 million tonnes of freshly cut (“green”) wood, but the sustainability of the practice raises concerns. growing concerns.
NatWest is also investing in the UPM pulp mill, which has been accused of causing deforestation in Uruguay by cutting down trees for paper. The energy company Vattenfall, which sells wood pellets and wood chips to energy companies, is also financed by the group.
Campaigners have accused the Royal Family of helping big business whitewash their environmental records.
Louisa Casson, Head of Forests for Greenpeace UK, said: “Unfortunately the number of trees this program could help plant is a tiny fraction of the number that the program’s corporate sponsors have helped destroy. It is an insult to the volunteers who participate in using their efforts to whitewash the reputation of the companies that drive deforestation around the world.
Joel Scott-Halkes, co-founder of Wild Card, added: “The Royal Family is helping big business green their own planet-destroying activities. As representatives of our nation, they implicate us all in a shameful cover-up of these global corporations with appalling environmental reputations.
“As Britain’s largest landowning family, the Royal Family should use their time to reclaim and reforest their own vast estates – not lend their name to companies like McDonald’s.”
Emma Smart, Campaigns Coordinator at the NGO, said: “A business that profits from the extermination of bees, ants, moths, wasps and flies essential to the survival of tree canopies, vital not only for nature but also for humans, is not only greenwash, it is ecocide”.
Rentokil said: “The type of work we undertake is to help customers control flies inside food production or preparation facilities, bed bugs in hotels, cockroaches in kitchens. We also work in areas of the world where mosquitoes cause malaria and zika [virus]with the associated serious consequences on human health.
During her reign, the Queen planted more than 1,500 trees around the world and her subjects were invited to plant millions across the UK as a “special gift” for Jubilee celebrations.
However, his own land is relatively treeless. The royal family owns over 850,000 acres (350,000 hectares) of land and foreshore, but many of their estates have less tree cover than other parts of the UK. For example, the Duchy of Cornwall, owned by Prince Charles, has only 6% tree cover compared to 16% in the UK.
Balmoral, the Queen’s estate in Scotland, would naturally be a temperate rainforest, but environmental campaigners have pointed out that it contains vast expanses of moorland with grouseand only small fragments of wood remain.
The Crown Estate manages a £14.1 billion property portfolio, which includes Windsor Great Park and urban areas such as Regent Street in central London, as well as 264,000 acres of farmland, woodland and uplands. An independent commercial enterprise, it takes care of all its benefits to the public treasury, which passes 25% of the profits – with a two-year lag – to the Queen through the Sovereign Grant.
Campaigners have previously called on the Crown Estate to commit to making room for nature – and potentially woodlands – even if it would impact profits.
A spokesperson said: “The Queen’s Green Canopy is very grateful to our platinum supporters who have helped enable the planting of over one million trees in the UK since October 2021. Each company who has generously supported the QGC is committed to achieving rigorous and ambitious goals. both on deforestation and biodiversity.
“As a charity that has not received taxpayer funding, we are dependent on donors to achieve our goals, which are to fund tree planting in areas in the UK that need it most.
“Thanks to this support, we will continue to plant a significant number of trees in the fall until the end of the Platinum Jubilee year. The legacy of this campaign will make a difference for future generations and encourage tree planting long into the future.
“McDonald’s is committed to eliminating deforestation from its global supply chains by 2030,” the company told the Guardian. “In 2020, we reached a major milestone in achieving our goal of supporting deforestation-free supply chains for several of our key ingredients and materials – beef, chicken (soya in food), palm oil, coffee and fibers used in customer packaging.
“We recognize that we still have work to do. This is why we are accelerating progress in this area and, as a signatory of the UK Soy Manifesto, we are committed to sourcing soy, used both as an ingredient and in animal feed, from our supply chains, from deforestation-free supply chains by the end of 2025.”
Natwest has meanwhile confirmed that it has identified biodiversity and nature loss as an emerging risk for the bank and is a member of the Nature-Related Financial Disclosures Task Force Forum.
“Our private bank Coutts is proud to support tree planting in schools and deprived urban areas through Queen’s Green Canopy as part of its wider commitment to inspiring tree planting across the UK and helping young people develop green skills and find jobs.”