The scheme of planting jubilee trees of the queen was sponsored by companies with links to deforestation, say activists.
Across the country, people were asked to “plant a tree for the jubilee” in honor of the queen’s 70th year on the throne.
La Queen’s Green Canopy a scheme will dedicate a network of 70 ancient woodlands across the UK and identify 70 ancient trees to “celebrate 70 years of Her Majesty’s service”.
The move is aimed at reforesting Britain. However, concerns have been voiced by a campaign group about some of the scheme’s “platinum” sponsors, who are listed on the official website. These include McDonald’s, which was linked to deforestation in Brazil.
Another platinum sponsor is Coutts, the queen’s bank. As part of the NatWest groupCoutts is investing in various companies that activists at a wildlife NGO Wild Card accuse of profiting from deforestation.
These include the power company Drax, which uses biomass for fuel. In 2021, the Drax plant in Yorkshire burned 8.3 million tonnes of pellets made from around 16.6 million tonnes of freshly cut (“green”) wood, but there are growing concerns about the sustainability of this practice.
NatWest is also investing in the pulp mill UPM, which has been accused of causing deforestation in Uruguay by harvesting trees for paper. Energy company Vattenfall, which trades wood pellets and wood chips to energy companies, is also funded by the group.
Activists have accused the royal family of helping large corporations green their environmental records.
Louisa Casson, head of forestry at Greenpeace UK, said: “Unfortunately, the number of trees that this scheme could help plant is a tiny fraction of the number that the company’s sponsors helped destroy. It is an insult to the volunteers. participating in using their efforts to green the reputations of companies that conduct deforestation around the world. “
Joel Scott-Halkes, co-founder of Wild Cardadded: “The royal family is helping major corporations green their own destructive activities. As representatives of our nation, they are implicating us all in the shameful concealment of these global companies’ terrible environmental reputations.
“As the largest landowning family in the UK, the royal family should use their time to reforest and reforest their own vast estates – not lending their name to companies like McDonald’s.”
Wild Card has also criticized the scheme for awarding Rentokil platinum sponsorship, as the company advertises its services for the killing of winged insectswhose numbers have decreased by 60% since 2004.
Emma Smart, a campaign coordinator at the NGO, said: “A company that benefits from the extermination of bees, ants, moths, wasps and flies is essential for the survival of tree canopies, which are essential not only for nature but also for humans. ., it is ecocidal ”.
Rentokil said: “The type of work we do helps clients control flies in food production or food processing facilities, bed bugs in hotels, cockroaches in kitchens. We also work in parts of the world where mosquitoes cause malaria and zircon. [virus]with the relevant major impact on human health. “
During her reign, the Queen planted more than 1,500 trees all over the world, and her subjects were asked to plant millions across Britain as a “special gift” for the jubilee celebrations.
However, her own land is relatively treeless. The royal family owns more than 850,000 acres (350,000 hectares) of land and shore, 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% UK wide.
Balmoral, the Queen’s estate in Scotland, would naturally be temperate rainforest, but environmental activists have warned it contains large areas of grouseand only small fragments of woodland remain.
The crown estate manages a property portfolio of £ 14.1bn, which includes Windsor Great Park and urban areas such as Regent Street in central London as well as 264,000 acres of countryside, forest and surroundings. Independent business, it gives everything profits to the treasury, which delivers 25% of the profits – with a two-year time lag – to the Queen through the Sovereign Grant.
Activists have previously asked the crown estate to promise to make room for nature – and possibly woodland – even if that will impact profits.
A spokesman said: “The Queen’s Green Canopy is very grateful to our platinum supporters who have helped enable the planting of over a million trees in the UK since October 2021. Every company that has generously supported the QGC is committed to rigorous and challenging goals. on deforestation and biodiversity.
“As a charitable initiative that has not received funding from taxpayers, we are relying on donors to achieve our goals, which are to fund tree planting in areas of greatest need across the UK.
“With this support we will continue to plant significant numbers 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 for a long time to come.”
“McDonald’s is committed to removing deforestation from its global supply chains by 2030,” the company told the Guardian. “2020 has seen us reach a major milestone in achieving our goal of maintaining deforested supply chains for several of our main ingredients and materials – beef, chicken (soy in fodder), palm oil, coffee and the fiber used in customer packaging.
“We recognize that we have more work to do. That is why we are accelerating progress in this area and, as a signatory to the UK Soybean Manifesto, we are committed to testing soybeans, used both as an ingredient and in animal nutrition through our supply chains, from deforestation supply chains to 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 board member in the Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures.
“Our private bank Coutts is proud to support the planting of trees in schools and deprived urban areas with the Queen’s Green Canopy as part of its broader commitment to inspire tree planting across the UK and support young people to develop green skills and find employment.”