April 20, 2023
Planting for the Planet: Exploring the Intersection Between Clinical Research and Reforestation
Director, Europe at One Tree PlantedGuest
This episode we have something a little bit different as we talk with Karl McGrory, director of Europe at One Tree Planted. As an international nonprofit focused on reforestation, One Tree Planted has garnered widespread support from many sectors, including the pharmaceutical industry. Teckro has partnered with One Tree Planted and contributed to a project in Ireland, home to our HQ. Karl talks about Ireland’s significant deforestation over the centuries and upcoming projects they have around the world.
“There's an old folklore that said a squirrel could travel from the south of Ireland to the northern tip without touching the ground. That's how forested it was. So, it really is important that we restore some of the trees to that landscape.”
OK so in our recording. So I'm going to start in 3, 2, 1. This week, I'm joined by Carl McGarry. Sorry, is it mcgrory?
McGrory look. Rory Yes. Yes rory? Yeah so I. It's appropriate, but it's a real tongue twister, isn't it?
Because you have to grow, right? I always describe it as like Mac and Rory. Tricky Yeah. Cool so 3, 2, 1.
This week, I'm joined by Karl McGrory, director Europe at one tree planted, an international non-profit organization focused on global reforestation. Once you plant, it is on a mission to make it really simple for anyone to help the environment by planting one tree for every dollar donated. There are many advantages to reforestation. It helps rebuild forests after fires and floods and offers jobs to social impact and restores biodiversity.
And here at taproot, we are really proud to be supporters of one tree planted, contributing by planting thousands of trees in our company headquarters backyard island. Now, in this podcast, Carl will delve deeper into one tree plant, its mission, the incredible results they've seen so far, and explain why the nonprofit has gained widespread support in the pharmaceutical industry. Thank you for joining me today, Karl. Now, in that introduction, I've given some background about the importance of reforestation.
But let's start by going a bit more in depth about why reforestation is crucial to restoring the balance of nature. Thanks, Hannah. Nice to speak to you again. Yeah, lovely to join you today.
And talk a bit more about our partnership and the work of one tree planted. So in terms of balancing nature, the work that we do, planting trees around the world is just crucial. Everyone appreciates the beauty of a tree. You know, the change of the colors in the leaves in the autumn, sitting under a shade, on a picnic, on a nice summer's day.
And that's probably a good place to start in the trees, which is vital for the clean, cool air that we breathe. So not only producing the oxygen, but cleaning the particulates from pollution, particularly important in cities and around schools, where actually, if you have a good quality hedgerow or good quality trees around your school, it can collect a huge amount of particulates that would usually make it through into the air that we're breathing. And they cling to the leaves and then the leaves drop to the ground and the particulates get sort of sink into the soil. And in terms of cool air, again, we're seeing like last summer across Europe, one of the biggest heatwaves we ever experienced.
And trees are just vital for cooling the air around us. It's amazing, actually, if you're walking through a city and you walk under a nice, big, established tree, you can feel the coolness that it provides for you. And actually, we did a project where we monitored the air and a temporary urban forest that we set up last year. And we collected the data and proved that because there's not a lot of scientific data around it.
So it was good to have just a little pop up forest and evidence that with some air monitoring equipment, water is vital to all of life on the planet. Of course, we are made up of 2/3 of water. And look, management with trees is another huge area, but it's becoming increasingly important. Then in the summer when we have downpours, sometimes we've seen huge issues with flash floods and particularly in Germany, where we've had devastating landslides and things like that.
And I know that planting trees along what we call riparian corridors, which is along Riverside and sometimes higher up in the hills, so that they can divert water in deep into the soil before it runs off down the hills, into the towns and cities and creates potential issues for our lives. Another aspect is that 80% of the planet's plants and animal species depend on trees. I always love to refer to one of our favorites in the UK, the beautiful oak tree that is capable of hosting 600 different species. That's right.
You heard right 600 different species on One Tree. And that just shows the power of trees to sustain life on the planet. Billions if 1.6 billion people rely on trees directly for their livelihoods, whether that's from the products, from timber or from fruits and and nuts and things like that, seeds and things to sustain their livelihoods.
You know, maybe they're working on the land, things like that. So that's a huge amount. When you think we're all around 9 billion people on the planet, that 1.6 billion of them depend on trees so their livelihoods.
And then lastly, just being the lungs of the Earth and also the nursery of the seas. If you go on to our YouTube channel, have a quick look at some of the videos. You'll be able to find some really cool information on mangroves and mangrove trees with their sort of umbrella of roots that stand in the water on the Rivers and the edge of seas, the nursery trees where fish come to spawn, and that young shouts of before they make their way back into the rivers, back into the sea. So that's just a few points on how vital trees are for the planet, the people and the nature that we're living with.
Wow Thank you so much for that explanation. 600 species in one tree. I bet many people don't know that. So if we can move on to one tree, plant its mission and goals.
Could you explain more about these? Yeah so one tree planted are a global reforestation charity. We were founded in 2014 and every year we've been doubling in size and just Amazing Grace. And really our mission is to make it as easy as possible for people to help plant trees, whether that's a business or an individual.
We just try and make it as simple as possible. We're working to restore forests, to create biodiversity and have a positive social impact around the world. And it's as simple as that, really. There is nothing else to add to the mission that we have.
Just making it as simple as possible to plant trees. Great actually, Carl, I think I'm going to move that part to the top. So I'd be like, could you start by telling us about the mission? Because you talk.
I was thinking maybe we talk more about some of the wider like mission, but you talk more about how it's founded, which is fine and that's great. But I think to me that I'll move it to the top and then I'll make once it gets to make forestation more into depth, because I was thinking it might be kind of moving the topic on that. If it's quite simple, then let's keep it like that. I think that's better.
OK so next we are talking about. OK so now let's discuss the results you've seen so far at one tree planted. How many trees have you planted and in which countries? So one tree planted have doubled in size every year and we are now working in over 80 countries.
We have nearly 700 partner organizations across the world that were planting trees with and we have planted a grand total of over 92 million trees. It's really phenomenal said we have doubled in size every year and just a few years ago we would be talking about planting 4 million trees across the world. Before that, just a few 100,000 trees across the world. And since I've joined one tree planted, the growth has been phenomenal and just amazing to behold and see all of the different projects that we're working on around the world.
It's really inspiring and the different partners we work with from North America and Latin America through Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific. To give you a little flavor of the mix in 2023 at the moment, and this it changes all of the time. So it's just a snapshot. But we are planting over 6 million trees in South Africa, over 11, 11 million trees in South America, 5 million in Brazil alone.
And we really to touch the entire globe with our work. You had some really great results there. And it just goes to show how keen governments, businesses and individuals are to meet sustainability goals. Now if we move to the situation in Ireland, one of the reasons Kerry was really keen to help was because the country suffered significant deforestation over the centuries, and we really want to do our bit to put this right.
Could you explain more about Ireland's situation and how tech growth is going to help here? Yeah it's amazing to speak with you as an Irish company. Ireland is dear to my heart because my wife's from Ireland and I've spent a lot of time there in the past and I have some distant relatives myself and some really. It is the country in Europe actually.
I think it's joint in Europe with the lowest number of trees and percentage of tree cover in the country, which is due to the fact that, you know, humans have used the land in a different way to when it was reforested. We become farmers. We then developed intensive agriculture. We've enhanced towns and cities and developed urban sprawl.
So the land use has really changed completely and over the years and, you know, been used for all sorts of different things from exploration to industrialization, but in Ireland in particular is probably starker than anywhere else. There's an island is known as the land of the celts, and that is the, the people of the forest. And now it has I think less than 3% forest cover. And there's a old folklore that said a squirrel could travel from the South of Ireland to the northern tip of Ireland without touching the ground.
That's how forested it was. So it really is important that we restore some of the trees to the landscape and actually have particular interest in your industry as well is that there's a high proportion of respiratory diseases in Ireland, which I don't think the link has been made definitively by anyone. But for me in my gut it just shows, you know, less trees and more risk for respiratory diseases. It seems like a complete cause and effect.
So in terms of the work we're doing in Ireland at the moment, we're planting around 200,000 trees a year and to grow are obviously contributing towards that and valuable reforestation effort. The fantastic thing about the project as well is it covers both the North and South of Ireland and really again, touches on all the different areas across the community. There's a lot of community planting, a lot of agricultural planting and community orchards and things like that, planting around schools, which is just as I said earlier, and coming back to the point about the respiratory diseases, just one of the most important things we can possibly do with planting trees.
I love the anecdote about the squirrels tail not touching the ground. Let's hope one day this will again be the case. So when the average person thinks about sustainability, the pharmaceutical industry, to be honest, may not immediately spring to mind. But there has been a real shift in the industry towards net zero goals, such as from astrazeneca, which aims to have zero carbon emissions from global operations by 2025.
In fact, AstraZeneca has been working with one tree planted. Could you explain more about this? Yes so we started working with AstraZeneca in 2020 when they announced at the World Economic Forum that they were going to develop the is a forest, as they call it, in partnership with one tree planted. So we're delighted to be a global reforestation partner for AstraZeneca with the goal of planting 50 million trees worldwide by 2025.
And this project, it focuses on two really large projects, one in Australia, where we're planting 25 million trees in an effort to restore land that's been devastated by bushfires. And 20 million trees in Indonesia for wildlife and people. And in Indonesia, there's one of the largest, I think actually the largest remaining colony of orangutans. So really, really crucial for the wildlife and in particular the orangutans there and in Australia.
We just working on this huge project where it will cover approximately 20,000 hectares of land and create habitat for dozens of endangered species and sequester carbon and provide, you know, all of the benefits for people in terms of cooling and the urban heat island effects and reducing emissions that could be produced by approximately a million cars. So, yeah, absolutely amazing to be involved in that project. And we work with a number of pharmaceutical industry companies like tecra and AstraZeneca. And I think, you know, it has such a big impact on our lives every day.
And the fact that the majority of medicines that we've developed in the past have come from the basis of plants. To have that synergy with now reforesting parts of the planet and helping to reduce the impact of the industry is just a fantastic thing to do. Yeah I mean, the paper based aspect of clinical trials evidently affects the environment here at Tucker. We support an approach to remote monitoring.
The trials. So there's less impact on nature. So this is where we saw the parallel of one tree planted. And have you had any other industry feedback on why when she planted a pod as a project?
Well, I think there's an interesting synergy there as well, because one tree planted, we try to engage with the latest technology to help monitor the planting that we are engaged with across the world. So we are developing our approach to satellite based monitoring, trying to really enhance what we do there. And bring our industry forward. And also things like drones are useful, everything from monitoring forests to potentially looking at seed collection or even planting seeds and all of those sorts of things are things that one tree planted have been engaged with, working with partners on, trying to make the most of the technology we have out there.
And of course, also he the there's a common anecdote that actually the tree is the best technology that we have to solve our planetary issues. So the number one technology is actually planting the tree, but really going back to one tree planted approach and that sort of synergy. I've worked in a number of different sustainability and charities and and nature based organizations, and I've never seen anywhere near the efficient use of technology and responsiveness that the one tree planted has. And I think, you know, tech grow has that, that ethos as well of being responsive, using the best technology to enable the sensor to operate more efficiently.
And I think there's such a synergy there with us with one tree planted. And yeah, that responsiveness, that technological approach has been appealing to lots of other organizations that we're working with. I love that. Yes lots of synergy between one tree planted and set grow.
Now let's talk about the work you're currently overseeing in Europe. And what you're focused on right now. I had just lost my note. Sorry Messing around to the screen so I can just take a breath while I get those back up.
OK And in the right place that moved away from my notes while I was chatting on the last dance. All right. Start again on that question. Thanks so in Europe, we have a number of strategic priorities that are really based around the key issues that we have relating to trees, the environment and European works or issues is probably not the right word.
But we have been trying to bring on a few more projects with regards to forestry. And for those listening on AWARE of what our forestry is, it's the practice of planting trees between crops to help with soil stability, to help increase the yield of the farmers so that they have. Oh, I don't know if you call it a 3D farm, so to speak, but rather than just having mono crops on the ground and one level of cropping that you then have to produce, whether it's nuts, seeds, fruit trees at a different level and different time of year as well. So enhancing that and also adding to the leaf matter that goes back into the soil can increase the nutrients and the quality of the soil that the farmer's working with.
So that's really key. Look at changing the way that we produce our food and care for the soil and the planet at the same time adding biodiversity into the farm. So that's something that we're looking for more and more projects in my area. Another thing is projects that contribute towards climate mitigation and resilience to pests and disease.
In across Europe. We have a number of key diseases from some killer ash dieback, which is devastating ash trees across the UK and there is no cure for it's an airborne fungus and ash trees are particularly important for things like hedgerows and Wildlife corridors and the most numerous outside of woodlands. So when you're driving along in your car, going to work or going out on the weekend and things, and you see these trees in hedgerows or individual trees outside a forest, it's most likely to be an ashtray. The disease means that we're going to lose possibly 90% of them in the long term.
So using our efforts now to replace those trees or supplement those trees, you know, increase the resilience by planting a variety of species along these corridors or creating new forests that have more diversity in them is such an important thing to do. In England we have a project in community forest that is doing just that, working across the whole of the country. And we'll be planting hopefully up to 1.5 million trees a year.
And yeah, wildlife corridors. I was just touching on them with the disease because they interlinked but also in terms of hedgerows and riparian planting that I mentioned earlier, again, where we're supporting projects with that emphasis because it's just so important for nature, but also important for preventing flash flooding. Even in Scotland, for example. It's a huge issue where the river and salmon organizations, NGOs are highlighting the fact that the increase in temperature and Rivers from climate change is the risk of destroying the salmon stocks.
And then the knock on effect is that destroys potentially the whole community in terms of forest for fishing and ecotourism and all sorts of things, you know, just enjoying the nature and the environment in Scotland that there's a huge push for riparian planting to help reduce or reverse that heating effect in Rivers and sustain the economy and the traditions of in Scotland. And then finally touch on probably where we've got one of our other biggest projects in Europe is focused on forest fire recovery. So in Portugal, for example, since 2017, we've seen the biggest forest fires on record and the project that we're working on in Portugal, there was 12,000 hectares built, burnt in just three or four days.
And unfortunately, a few people lost their lives as well. They were in 63 people. And it's just vital that we help to build resilience into those communities, help restore them, help them recover from such devastating effects and plumb the forests in a way that they're going to be more resilient to fire. So in that instance, you might be reducing the number of eucalyptus and pine trees and then and enhancing them with a broader diversity of species.
Some trees actually respond well to fire and their seats are resilient by us. They spring back afterwards. Strawberry tree in Portugal and actually is native to Ireland as well. The strawberry tree.
It's a beautiful tree that's resilient to fire so it can be burnt and it will spring back and grow again. And it also produces a wonderful fruit and you can make various produce out of that as well. So yeah, are the key issues that we're focusing on in Europe protection and recovery from forest fires, wildlife corridors, hedgerows, riparian planting, climate change, pests and diseases and forestry. And we're lucky to have projects that are touching on all aspects of this, from Romania to Iceland and Ireland and England and all over Europe.
We're trying to broaden our reach as well and work with more and more partners. Great Thank you for coming on to speak with me. Stay call. It's been so fascinating to learn about the important work one tree planted is doing.
Now, before we wrap up, I want to ask what's next for one tree planted? You've had massive success working with businesses and individuals all over the world. You just talked about some of the work you do in Europe. What big goals did the company have on does the company have on the horizon?
Actually we always focus on the numbers when we're reporting and things like that. But some of our big goal is, is to make sure that we have high quality projects, projects that we're monitoring with the latest technology, that we have high quality evidence that the trees have survived, that the trees are growing well, that we're able to report on their benefits in terms of social community, environmental biodiversity impacts. And that is the real focus for us. Now, we have had amazing success in growing as fast as we've grown.
We'll always be looking to increase that number. And enhance reforestation around the globe. But really, we want to make sure that those trees are there and cared for in the long term and bringing all of the benefits that we need to have, the environment, environmental impact, the social impact, the community impacts that we want these trees to have when we're all contributing to planting them right now that they benefit generations to come. And that's the focus.
Brilliant Thank you. I'll just start recording.