CHEP, the global leader in pallet and container pooling services, has signed an innovative sponsorship deal with the National Forest Company, which is leading a regeneration project to create a wooded landscape embracing 200 square miles of central England. The agreement will result in the planting of more than 12,000 new trees in a six-hectare area at Normanton, Leicestershire, over the next three years.
The National Forest has been underway for less than 20 years, and is taking root across parts of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire. From being one of the country’s least-wooded regions, the ambitious goal of The National Forest is to increase woodland cover to about one-third of all the land within its boundary – an area roughly five times the size of the city of Manchester. No multi-purpose forest on this scale has been created in the UK for 1,000 years.
Creating a new landscape from scratch is challenging, but Mike Pooley, CHEP’s Managing Director, UK & Ireland, is relishing the task ahead. "I’m really excited about this project, and very much looking forward to the first tree planting session in the Autumn," Mr Pooley said. "Timber is obviously a crucial raw material that underpins the nature of our business, and while we know that pallet pooling reduces the strain on timber supplies, it’s more visible for us to be able to give something back in this way in terms of creating a brand new forest. It’s a wonderful project."
The National Forest is now well underway with woodland cover having increased from about 6% in 1991 to more than 18% today. More than 7.8 million trees have already been planted, through making green almost 6,000 hectares (14,800 acres) of derelict coalfield land and mineral workings, and through converting farmland to woods. Other wildlife habitats are also being created or brought back under proper management.
Additional benefits of The National Forest include the stimulation and diversification of the rural economy through the creation of a wide range of new enterprises and jobs, especially at visitor attractions that are part of a rapidly growing tourism sector. Uses for the timber are being explored to ensure the woodland economy is viable and sustainable.
National Forest Company Chief Executive, Sophie Churchill, said: "I’m delighted that CHEP is supporting The National Forest in this way, as it is clear that the environment and sustainability are at the forefront of the way we both operate. I’m looking forward to getting to know CHEP over these next three years, and seeing the new area of woodland at Normanton develop."
Given the nature of its business, sustainable timber supplies are a fundamental component of CHEP pallets. This initial sponsorship agreement with the National Forest Company will result in the planting of more than 12,000 trees over a six-hectare site at Normanton, Leicestershire over the next three years. CHEP will use the tree-planting sessions as employee team-building events as part of its wider sustainability programme to engage its 1,000 UK & Ireland employees.
CHEP continuously manages and maintains strict timber sourcing policies, which support the replenishment of natural resources by sourcing timber in a responsible and sustainable manner. CHEP is now the only pooling company in the world with both an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) multisite certification. CHEP estimates that the use of its pallet pools, rather than disposable pallets, reduce timber use by the equivalent of 16 million trees per annum worldwide.