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The Regenerative Livelihood Podcast

Jul 8, 2020


If you want to learn how to off-set your own carbon footprint, or are looking for a way to finance woodland creation on some land, then this is the episode for you!


In this episode I'm speaking to friend and colleague Matt Hay, Project Manager at Forest Carbon, about the role of finance in restoring ecologies and sequestering carbon.


Matt has always been a keen lover of the natural world and started his career taking a deep dive into the world of weather whilst working for the Met Office. Since then he has fallen in love with trees, forests and the Scottish landscape which has led to him becoming a director of the charity Reforesting Scotland, as well as making a livelihood from investing other people's money into woodland creation.


The conversation today explores the need for a place - and a price - for greenhouse gases in an economy that still talks about its problems in terms of 'externalities'. The company he works for - Forest Carbon - is a pioneer in putting financial value on carbon sequestration, which they facilitate through new woodland creation and peatland restoration. We discuss the moral issue of capitalist markets which are able to trade in 'natural capital' and invest in 'ecosystem services', and whether such terms are a necessary means towards ecosystem restoration within an all-powerful money-driven economy.


We also talk a lot about trees! Being the main 'tool' at Forest Carbon's disposal. We discuss the relationship between climate change mitigation and adaptation and how all tree planting in the UK and beyond needs to be working towards both at the same time, not one separate from the other, in order to be truly regenerative. Taking in the context of the UK's current woodland cover, its booming timber industries and the current upheaval coursing through the conservation sector in the theory and practice of conservation ecology, we have a look at how the structure of a lean, streamlined and adaptable business can respond much more flexibly and impactfully than its charitable counterparts.


Quote of the episode:

"We are a *for profit business* in the sense that we are not a social enterprise or a charity, but...when you look at the ethos the two co-founders brought to the table when they were starting this of them was determined to stop treating environmental costs as externalities, the other one was just obsessed with getting trees in the ground. So those are their motivations...not to make money, and the decision to stay as a for-profit company is really more about keeping us lean and streamlined and adaptable."


Organisations and people mentioned:

Forest Carbon

Matt's Blog

Jim Knight - A Forest for a Future (short version)

Borders Forest Trust

The Woodland Trust

Trees for Life


Music credit:

Permanent Holiday - Mike Love