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SUSTAINABILITY| 21.03.2022

Our forests: lungs of the planet

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The International Day of Forests is celebrated on March 21, and we here at MAPFRE want to reclaim the priceless value of forests in the lives of all species.

Although forests cover a little over 30% of the earth’s surface, they are the habitat of 75% of earth’s biodiversity, according to the SOFO (State of the World’s Forests) report (2020) [1].

Forests Are the Planet’s Lungs

What does this mean? Millions of people, animals, and plants depend on the future of forest areas, which are increasingly harmed by deforestation and global warming. Unfortunately, forests remain under threat due to actions taken to turn them into land for agricultural crops and unsustainable levels of use, a large part of which is illegal. Therefore, conserving biodiversity is heavily dependent on how we interact with forests.

What does offsetting the carbon footprint mean and how do companies do it?

Forest degradation and deforestation continue to progress at an alarming rate. It is estimated that since 1990, 420 million hectares of forest have been lost due to the change in land usage, even though the deforestation rate has decreased in the last thirty years. Agricultural expansion remains the main cause of deforestation and biodiversity loss.

As a result of all our activities and our movement around the planet, we are leaving a footprint, specifically a carbon footprint, due to greenhouse gas emissions. That is why organizations are looking for ways to offset their environmental impact. And how do they go about doing that?

One of the ways that companies can offset their footprint is by reforestation, which consists of repopulating deforested areas to recover recently destroyed forests. Given the loss of large forest areas, which are vital for CO2 absorption, there is a need to plant new trees. This planting aims to prevent the loss of ecosystems and slow the deterioration of our planet while we contribute to sustainable development.

BOSQUES

How many trees need to be planted to offset our CO2 emissions?

As we mentioned before, trees absorb CO2 and retain the carbon from the molecule. They use it in carbohydrate form in their metabolic processes to grow, which helps remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Depending on the species, an adult tree can thus offset between 21 and 30 kg of CO<200>2</200> per year. If we see, for example, that a single round trip flight between London and Rome emits a minimum of 500 kg of CO2 per passenger, we can get an idea of the importance of caring for our forests to offset our footprint.

Growing trees capture the most carbon. So younger forest stands are the most effective at removing CO2.

Learn About Bosque MAPFRE

The concept of Bosque MAPFRE [MAPFRE Forest] was created with the objective of meeting the goals of the plan defined in the greenhouse gas emissions Corporate Offsetting Strategy, the ultimate purpose of which is to neutralize the group’s carbon footprint by 2030. 

  • Bosque MAPFRE Real [Real MAPFRE Forest] covers traditional reforestations to recover degraded areas, which may be associated with greenhouse gas offsetting. This initiative began in 2021 with the first carbon footprint neutralization in MAPFRE’s activity in Spain and Portugal. This will be joined by other actions in forests in Spain, like reforesting the Parque Nacional de Doñana, among others.
  • Bosque MAPFRE Virtual [Virtual MAPFRE Forest] was developed in the corporate sharepoint and is designed to educate employees on the impact that paper printed monthly in offices has on deforestation. In this way, being knowledgeable about the resources used, they can be aware and work to reduce them.

MAPFRE’s Reforestation Projects 

In 2021, we created the “Bosque MAPFRE” project to cover all of our reforestation activities, aimed at preserving biodiversity, natural capital, and creating carbon sinks in areas where we operate.

Our commitment has materialized into different projects in forests in Spain and Portugal, such as the recent reforestation project held on Borela mountain (Galicia), which was devastated by the 2016, 2017, and 2020 fires. Our collaboration with the company CO2 Revolution has allowed for the recovery of the wooded area with native vegetation thanks to technological measures combined with traditional planting methods.

Recently, we have planted a total of 4,874 trees in the Cerdedo-Cotobade municipality in Pontevedra and another 1,667 in the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais in northern Portugal. We have contributed to repopulating almost five hectares of areas affected by deforestation through these projects. Those over 6,500 new trees absorb 4,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, which neutralizes 21% of the company’s emissions in those two countries.

The Bosque MAPFRE projects promote corporate volunteering actions and sensitization about environmental protection. Every year, we get all our employees involved in planting trees and cleaning natural spaces in countries like Spain and Portugal and others, such as Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, the U.S., Mexico, and Puerto Rico. In Mexico specifically, volunteers from that country reforested one hectare last year, and in Brazil, they planted 1,200 trees in an area of environmental interest through the Amigos del Bosque project.

BOSQUES

Why is it important to offset the footprint with reforestation?

Trees are natural CO2 sinks, which means that they are natural CO2 deposits. This has a significant impact on the air we breathe. It is calculated that forests in Spain are responsible for capturing 20% of the CO2 in the atmosphere. That is why reforestation represents vital leverage against global warming and in protecting diversity.

The role of forests in sustainable development is being increasingly recognized. Furthermore, their value is incalculable and goes far beyond improving the quality of the air we breathe. They are also a source of vitality and are fundamental for our psychological well-being, as nature is associated with a greater sense of freedom and well-being.

On the occasion of the International Day of Forests, we wish to promote initiatives like Bosque MAPFRE to reverse the loss of forest areas and biodiversity to benefit all generations, both present and future. We would also like to highlight our commitment to the Sustainable Development Objectives (SDO 13 and SDO 15), which are so important to the future of our planet. 

 

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[1] FAO and UNEP 2020. State of the World’s Forests 2020. Forests, Biodiversity, and People. Rome. https://doi.org/10.4060/ca8642es