Regeneration and hope - Another Country


Regeneration and hope

It has been some time since I have penned a letter like this but I felt compelled to share a hopeful tale after a recent trip to Scotland.
The world is not heading in the right direction, let’s be honest. The news headlines this past week alone once again bear out all the predictions made by climate scientists decades ago, and it ain’t looking great.
If you’ve followed us for some time you probably know, and most likely share the values on which we were founded. We have remained a made-to-order business to this day, making furniture from sustainably sourced, carbon-capturing wood, and designing and making products that we hope will last a very long time.
Like any business or indeed human activity we have a carbon footprint; it is one that we measure, continually seek to reduce, and what we can’t reduce we offset in a variety of ways (you can read more about here). By the way, if we accounted for the carbon sequestered in the wood that we make with, we would be inherently carbon neutral. We allocate money to carbon capturing schemes, however, because The Paris Agreement, the guidelines of which we subscribe to, states that the life span of an item (or structure) has to be one hundred years or over for such a claim to be allowed. Yes, our furniture could last a hundred years, but that’s a big assumption to make. Like with everything else, always read the label when you buy!.
Speaking of longevity, we are the first to encourage you to reduce, reuse, and recycle before buying new (people sometimes post comments on our digital ads to this effect; we take no issue with that). Our view is that if you need or want to buy new, that is ultimately your choice, and we aim to make it for you in as responsible as a way as possible, at as fair a price as possible.
Carbon is a big issue, but so is the staggering nature and biodiversity loss that we have experienced in our lifetime (or at least in my lifetime). In our small way again, we support organisations like Heal and Highlands Rewilding, and take great interest in nature regeneration, or rewilding, as many indeed call it, which finally brings me to the tale I wanted to share.
My wife Ariel and I were celebrating a milestone anniversary and decided we’d save up and with some dear friends head to Scotland for a week. The aim was to combine some adventure, good food, a wee dram or two, lots of hiking, wild swimming and cycling with a comfortable mattress at the end of the day, along with a deep dive into learning more and experiencing first hand the nature regeneration work that has been happening across large swaths Scotland.
We began our trip at the very top of Scotland, in Sutherland, staying at a property owned by Wildland (above left), an organisation with a 200-year conservation vision of landscape renewal across two large Highlands estates. We then headed south, stopping at Alladale Wilderness Reserve, another pioneering rewilding estate that has planted 1,000,000 trees since 2003 (above right and top), finally ending up in Breamar, right on the edge of the Mar Lodge Estate, since 1995 a National Trust Scotland estate (picture below).
 As a keen but ultimately amateur reader I will leave it to more knowledgeable folk to lay out the science that underpins (re)wilding (I have added some links for you to turn to below if interested), but at its core, in my view, it is a message of hope.
We know that nature can restore itself if left alone, that it can massively boost biodiversity and help protect our food system, that it has huge carbon sequestration potential (woodland in the short term and peatland in the long term), that it can protect rivers from overheating in the face of rising temperatures (a big problem for wild salmon), that it can protect communities from flooding, that it can create new jobs in ecology, eco tourism, and outdoor pursuits (as well as retain and even enhance traditional field sports), and despite some people claiming otherwise, it doesn’t take productive farmland out of circulation.
I wanted to pen this letter to salute these pioneering projects (there are others south of the border of course, like the incredible Knepp Estate in Sussex), because they show the way and prove the science that informs the lawmakers, to the benefit of us all, and as a reminder that change for the better can happen, that we can all indeed make a difference by choosing how we spend our money and how we go about our lives, that there are well meaning people out there who care like we do, and not to lose hope.
Thanks for reading and thank you for supporting us.
Paul de Zwart