Small and medium sized companies across Ireland are being invited to celebrate Earth Day – which takes place today (Thursday, April 22) – by planting trees to offset their carbon footprint.

Development charity Self Help Africa is seeking support from agribusinesses, retailers, small manufacturers and other businesses for a campaign that is aiming to plant a million new trees in Africa, this year.

If it reaches its goal, the new initiative will enable Irish businesses to plant trees that will remove more than 20 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year, for decades to come.

Self Help Africa says it will work with interested businesses to calculate carbon consumption based on utility bills and other information provided.

The organisation will provide companies with an estimate of the number of trees they need to plant for offsetting purposes, together with a plan to meet these carbon targets by planting trees in Ireland and in Africa.

Tree planting as a means of carbon sequestration isn’t expensive, the charity claims.

Self Help Africa calculates that each tree planted, once mature, will remove approximately 25kg of carbon from the atmosphere every year.

Commenting, Self Help Africa’s head of business development Martha Hourican said:

“The campaign will give Irish businesses the chance to do much more than just reduce their carbon footprint.

“Their investment in trees will also benefit rural poor households in Africa.”

As an agriculture-focused overseas charity, tree planting has always played an important part in the work of Self Help Africa, as trees are a key part of the mix of activities on small farms, where they provide a source of food, income and much more, she added.

“A tree that is planted anywhere will benefit people everywhere.

“The fact that we’re planting trees in sub-Saharan Africa, where rural communities who are least responsible for climate change are feeling some of its worst effects, should make this proposition even more attractive to business owners,” Hourican said.

Self Help Africa has partnered with Irish-led start up GreenFeet, who provide consultancy services to businesses seeking to devise more comprehensive carbon-offsetting strategies.

Meanwhile, Self Help Africa has teamed up with Glenisk for a second year to launch a public campaign to promote tree planting in Ireland and Africa.

‘Another One Million Trees’ was launched by the two organisations last month, and will plant 10 trees in Africa and one native tree in Ireland for every €5 donated.

For those interested, more details on Self Help Africa’s one million trees initiative can be found on the charity’s website here.