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Green shoots: &Open's journey with Hometree to reforest and revitalize

Discover how Hometree is sowing seeds of hope for Ireland's ecosystems through education, conservation, and community-driven reforestation.

Nay Pereira, Sustainability Coordinator3 min2024-03-21

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Green shoots: &Open's journey with Hometree to reforest and revitalize

As a company built on human connection, we believe that fundamentally, these connections begin with our unified home - the Earth.

Countless environmental crises threaten our planet and it has become increasingly evident that each one of us has a role to play.

At &Open, we wholeheartedly embrace our responsibility to be a part of the solution and we’re lucky to partner with some incredible organisations helping to drive environmental change forward.

One of our favourites is Hometree, an organisation working to establish and conserve permanent native woodland in Ireland,  and encouraging land regeneration and biodiversity through afforestation, restoration and education.

Hometree images

We spoke with Matt Smith, Hometree co-founder to find out more about what they do.

“Our core value is stewardship. Through education and supporting increased awareness and consideration of Ireland’s natural environment, we hope to nourish a new way of relating to nature conservation and rehabilitation”, Matt explains.

Starting in 2014, a group of farmers and activists joined forces to rethink the use of farmland in the west of Ireland. They reached out to local businesses, leveraging their position within the surfing community to gain substantial support.

The project gained momentum, and Hometree continues to grow: “just recently we got the keys to a 280-acre project in the mountains of Connemara,” Matt says. “This journey has taken us three years, filled with ups and downs, but we've received an immense amount of support from local volunteers and prominent organizations.”

The use of native species is central to Hometree’s reforestation projects. “By planting trees grown from seeds sourced in the same area, we support the interaction between these trees and the diverse insect and animal species that rely on them. It's crucial that insects can recognize and interact with the trees we plant, fostering a thriving ecosystem,” Matt explains.

“The true benefits of reforestation are realized in the long term. Once a woodland has been planted and established over three years, it requires very little management. If any trees are affected by the wind and fall, they provide nourishment for insects, ensuring a sustainable ecosystem. From a corporate standpoint, the land is held in trust by the charity regulator and will remain permanently as woodland.”

As an NGO, Hometree isn’t required to generate profits for shareholders, allowing them to focus on doing work that’s truly needed, rather than just what’s profitable. The organisation supports farmers in ways that benefit not only their farm, but also the broader environment, and they collaborate with neighbours who are interested in implementing tree systems on their land, ensuring that local communities directly benefit from their projects.

Hometree images

On-going partnerships with business are crucial to the future of environmental organizations like Hometree. “We are not a carbon offsetting company, we focus on restoring ecosystems rather than solely measuring carbon sequestration benefits,” says Matt. “When envisioning the future of partnerships between businesses like &Open and organizations like ours in Ireland, we see the need for a radical change in land use perspective. This change should honour farming communities while adopting a forward-thinking vision that can withstand the test of time. Our goal is to have a holistic impact.”

There are lots of ways to support Hometree’s reforestation project in Ireland, as an individual or as a business, including monetary contributions, tree pledges, acre sponsorships, and participating in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) days.

We’re proud to have enabled them to plant 1,288 native trees, and look forward to seeing the trees, and this incredible organization, grow.

Discover more about Hometree, and get involved, here.

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