A multi-national company’s $300 million investment in the environment is likely to pay more than a few dividends in Virginia over the coming years, including the reforestation of many acres in Fauquier and Prince William counties.
Last week, Royal Dutch Shell announced that investment in reforestation and other conservation projects over three years to reduce the energy company’s carbon footprint and help combat climate change.
Thanks to a subsidiary of Fauquier County-based ACRE Investment Management located in The Plains, 25 acres owned by the Great Meadow Foundation is being transformed into a new forest, with 600 trees per acre on land already in easement.
“The cool story is that the largest reforestation company in the world is located right here in The Plains,” said Chandler Van Voorhis, who co-founded ACRE with Carey Crane, a fellow resident of The Plains. “A third of all the emissions put up in the atmosphere since 1750 has been caused by land use change. To repair the past, the most dependable technology to get carbon out of the atmosphere is reforestation.”
ACRE stands for Advanced Carbon Restored Ecosystem. GreenTrees, one of four ACRE subsidiaries, has been working with Shell, as well as companies like United Airlines, Duke Energy and Norfolk Southern, among others, to reduce their respective carbon footprints.
In the U.S., GreenTrees has been reforesting a million acres of marginal farmland in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. They’ve planted more than 30 million trees on 120,000 acres, in partnership with private landowners. ACRE is now exploring the possibility of doing much of the same in Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay region.
The tree plantings emit much-needed oxygen over long periods of time. They’ve also generated millions of tons of verified carbon credits that are registered on the American Carbon Registry and essentially are traded as a commodity. Those credits account for the vast majority of domestic forestry credits registered on the voluntary market.
According to ACRE’s website, “forests offer one of the best mechanisms with which to stem climate change, and they are by far the lowest cost and most scalable carbon solution, according to the National Academy of Science.
“Trees are nature’s solution to rising temperatures, increased flooding and pollution control. Trees are the green infrastructure that will hold our soils in place, clean our streams and rivers, purify the air we breathe and shrink the carbon footprint of our industrious nation. Trees provide the bridge to a low carbon world.”
Rob Banner, who recently resigned as president of Great Meadow, helped broker the reforestation agreement with ACRE on the foundation’s 25 acres. He said it will bring Great Meadow about $200,000, the value of its carbon credits, as well as the obvious oxygen benefit, as well.
Banner said he was so intrigued by ACRE and its mission, he decided to leave the foundation after 11 years as president and go to work for the company starting next month.
“They’re doing great work,” he said.
Len Shapiro can be reached at email@example.com