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Transportation & Fuel Source Technology

New Carbon-Offset Scheme for Fliers Launched

With the recent press on flying and its effects on the environment, issues surrounding global warming and the aviation industry have hit the headlines. Now an ingenious new idea called Treeflights provides a simple way for any airline passenger to do something to make their flight more ecologically positive.

Today we are encouraged to be more aware of the environment. We may just have learned how to recycle our rubbish properly or perhaps we grow our own healthy veggies. For everyone to follow more sustainable lifestyles there must also be more sustainable choices on offer in the global marketplace.

Treeflights is the brainchild of a man with a passion for trees. Ru Hartwell lives on the bare slopes of the Cambrian Mountains of Mid-Wales and his eco-powered smallholding is now covered with organic woodland. This young forest is steadily getting larger as more and more airline passengers choose to take advantage of the service. It works like this. After booking their ticket on the net in the normal way, the passenger visits the Treeflights website where they choose their preferred species and log in their flight number. For £10, the tree is tagged with their name and details and then planted on the rough Welsh mountainside.

Ru says, "At we do one thing, we plant trees for people who fly. When we travel in an aeroplane we use loads of aviation fuel. In a few hours we each burn up hundreds of litres of a non-renewable resource that it took the earth (and the sun) millions of years to make. On top of this we are producing a lot of CO2 which we all know is the main culprit for global warming. There's no way of avoiding it, flying is inherently environmentally destructive and we shouldn't do any more of it than we really have to. Planting a tree, on the other hand, is an ecologically constructive thing to do.

Trees use the sun's energy to absorb CO2, taking it out of the atmosphere (where it's really harmful) and turning it into this wonderful, renewable material that we call wood. Trees encourage biodiversity and are also fantastic air purifiers.

If you choose to fly, this is just a simple way to put something back."

As a customer you can choose from Willow, Birch, Cherry, Alder, Sweet Chestnut, Ash, Beech Chestnut, Poplar or Oak. Most of the trees will ultimately be harvested for construction timber, potentially locking up CO2 for hundreds of years. You can plant trees for single, return or block booking flights and can even go and visit your tree(s) in the future if you wish, as each tree is tagged with your name so you can see it develop over your lifetime.

Ru Hartwell has lived on the bare slopes of the Cambrian Mountains of Mid-Wales for 20 years, bare that is, until he planted 17,000 trees. Now a haven for birds, insects and butterflies, he's installed a self-designed hydro-electric system powered by the stream next to his house, whilst a solar array makes what it can from the limited Welsh sunshine. He is truly "off-grid" - even his water comes from a spring.

Ru says, "There's no way of avoiding it, flying is really hard on the planet. Each time we do it we burn up precious fossil fuel and produce loads of pollution and CO2. Planting a tree does pretty much the opposite. Over its lifetime a tree will store up solar energy, it'll purify the air and take tonnes of CO2 out of the atmosphere. I've been working with trees for a long time and that work has shaped me.. All the trees I've planted are still only babies and I'm 48, almost an old man! Because it takes time for trees to grow and absorb CO2, we have to be planting many more of them now, to have any hope of balancing emission and fixation in the future. The most important thing to understand about tree-planting is that you are not doing it for yourself but to help people in the future. - we should be busy now, trying to protect our future."

Tom O'leary, the Treeflights nurseryman says, "Look at a forest. What else will thrive on 200 years of neglect, whilst producing vast amounts of oxygen and providing food and shelter for hundreds of species?"

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