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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
'Plant tree' air travellers urged
Harry Hartwell, Ru Hartwell and Rocco
Ru Hartwell in his tree nursery with father Harry, and son Rocco
A tree lover from mid Wales has launched a business offering air travellers a way to offset the carbon produced by flying.

Ru Hartwell, 48, is offering to plant a tree on or near his small-holding in the Cambrian Mountains as part of the fight against climate change.

For 10, people can choose between a number of native broad-leafed species, and visit the woodlands being created.

He hopes to plant at least 7,000 trees during the autumn and winter.

Mr Hartwell says he has planted around 17,000 trees since moving to Llanddewi Brefi, Ceredigion, 20 years ago and now works as a professional tree planter.

Planting trees is a fundamentally positive, ecologically friendly thing to do - in marked contrast to taking an aeroplane flight
Ru Hartwell

Trees bearing the name of their sponsor, and flight number they represent, will be planted either on Mr Hartwell's five-acre small holding, at a six-year-old woodland at Llanfair Clydogau or on seven acres of bare mountain land at Llanybydder.

His smallholding boasts a young woodland, which he says has become a haven for wildlife as well as making the family self-sufficent in wood.

He is convinced planting trees can play a part in tackling the carbon emissions blamed for climate change, and without necessarily encouraging people to fly more.

His firm, treeflights.com, allows people to sponsor a tree that, he says, in 80 to 100 years will reclaim much of the carbon produced during a person's trip by air.

Mr Hartwell plans to set up a webcam so people can follow progress.

He said he was prompted to start his business after the birth of his third child, son Rocco, two.

Carbon dioxide

He said: "I do not want him to be living on the surface of Venus when he's my age.

"I'm a bit of lone voice saying that carbon offset tree planting is a good thing. Just because it takes a long time to work is not a reason for not doing it, but for doing more of it.

Pantglas, Llanddewi Brefi
The 12-year-old woodland at Pantglas, Llanddewi Brefi, set for new planting

"It's like the whole world has forgotten that there are things in the world called trees, these devices to sequester the carbon from the atmosphere, when we have more carbon in the atmosphere now than in the past 650,000 years.

"Planting trees is a fundamentally positive, ecologically friendly thing to do - in marked contrast to taking an aeroplane flight which produces a lot of CO2 (carbon dioxide) which we all know is the main culprit for global warming.

"Your flight won't suddenly become carbon neutral if you plant a tree, it will take 80 to 100 years, depending on the species, but as last year we lost seven million hectares (17m acres) of forest globally, there's nothing bad about planting a tree."

Mr Hartwell has 15,000 seedlings in his nursery, many are cuttings from his existing woodland.

Customers can choose from willow, birch, cherry, alder, sweet chestnut, ash, beech chestnut, poplar or oak.




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