Climate Change Project in Ghana

21st August 2019

I have taken the time over the Parliamentary summer recess to look at other areas of business affecting my North West Leicestershire constituency, outside of day-to-day matters in the House. When I learned earlier in the year of a company involved in direct action against climate change, located in the heart of my constituency, I had to find out more. 

The Curious Guys (TCG) are based in Ashby-De-la-Zouch. Jamie Mackenzie, one of the Directors of TCG, asked me to take a look at the company and see if I was able to offer any help and support in issues with HMRC. It soon became obvious that TCG were involved in a large-scale climate-based project, based in Ghana, West Africa. The project is owned and operated by Mere Plantations Ltd (MPL) and is quite unique.

Having spent some time learning about the company and the project, when the chance came along for a site visit, I had to see for myself. The project is a large-scale reforestation project based in the Afram Headwaters Forest Reserve, covering over 10,000 Acres. The sheer scale is difficult to grasp!

MPL Plantation Nursery        Newly established Teak stand

MPL Plantation Nursery                                                                   Newly established Teak stand

The company has planted over 4 million trees to date. They have taken a massive financial burden for the Global community and broken it down into manageable sized projects. This has been turned into a profitable business for individuals.

7-8 year old Teak stands ready for first thinning        7-8 year old Teak stands ready for first thinning

7-8 year old Teak stands ready for first thinning

I was lucky enough to be on the plantation as the first trees were being harvested. At 7-8 years old, these trees contained over 0.5cbm of saleable timber. All timber grown by Mere plantations; this is fully certified plantation Teak. The fact that you are standing in a profitable, large-scale carbon absorbing forest that just a few years earlier was totally degraded land is a wonderful feeling.

Newly felled tree – thinning        Log trailer being loaded with Teak

Log trailer being loaded with Teak                                                 Newly felled tree – thinning                           

I understand Ghana is one of 3 developing Nations that the UK has elected to support, under the Paris Climate Agreement. Ghana, one of the fastest developing West African countries, provides the perfect location for a fast-growing plantation. As part of our Paris Agreement, the UK has the right to use Ghana for mitigation of our own carbon reduction commitments. The speed of the tree growth, and value of the timber makes total sense. This is the product of a British based company. So, when the timber is sold, even though it is grown in Ghana, the UK Government is able to Tax the sales. It is fighting climate change in a profitable way. This has now been put to the relevant departments in Government for evaluation.     

There has been a lot of debate in recent years around the use, and accountability of the Aid budget. Ghana, as a Nation, is clearly on record asking for Trade not Aid. This project certainly delivers on that:

  • Jobs are being created in the UK and jobs are being created in Ghana.
  • Carbon is being absorbed in line with the UN commitments for the UK and Ghana.
  • Neither country is being asked to fund the project, as it is a profitable business.
  • Both countries earn Tax from the revenue, as well as VAT and employment Tax.
  • Fully certified, sustainable timber is being grown; relieving the pressure on logging in natural forests.
  • Both countries are fulfilling obligations under Tropical Timber Treaties.
  • Britain is building new export markets under WTO rules.

More trade is being done with Commonwealth Nations.

MPL workers being trained to use chainsaws        MPL Nursery workers, men and women

MPL workers being trained to use chainsaws                               MPL Nursery workers, men and women

 

MPL workers being trained to use chainsaws

Above, one sub compartment of the 10,000 Acre Teak Plantation

 

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