We’re speaking once again with the President of BeLeaf SA, Marcin Ujejski, who has been working on solutions to reduce carbon footprint for several years. Mr. Marcin, we wanted to ask you about the status of your plans related to reducing carbon footprint through investments in fast-growing trees plantations.

Good morning. Everything is going well. Currently, we are in discussions with several serious companies and organizations, not only in Poland but also in the Middle East and the United Kingdom. Over the past 5 years, we have invested several million in developing cultivation technologies, testing, and some research, and today we are almost ready for wide commercialization.

Almost ready?

Yes, the final touch will be the certification, which will open up a broad market for us. The Polish economy has 380 million tons of CO2 to be reduced by 2050, with half of it aimed to be reduced by 2030. Personally, I believe that it will be impossible to halve this footprint by 2030, but it is a signal that this train cannot be stopped anymore. For us, certification is the final element we are currently working on. It will send a signal to companies that investing in tree plantations will be a legal way to reduce CO2. Bloomberg estimates the global CO2 market value at $800 billion in 2024. We have an ambition to be part of this and contribute to this opportunity.

The idea of tree planting, not only fast-growing ones, has many opponents, who are saying that trees will not save the world, that they are inefficient in absorbing CO2, that they can be invasive, or threaten biodiversity. How would you respond to these arguments?

I agree with one thing – trees will not save the world, nor should they. Because the world doesn’t need saving. We need to look at this more broadly. Many companies are causing significant harm to the natural environment, and first and foremost, we should look at rational methods of improving companies to become more nature-friendly. If someone is emitting pollutants into the atmosphere, they should first look for ways to reduce emissions or seek more efficient filters, better “fuels”. Planting trees and not focusing on the root of the problem is pure greenwashing, and as a company, we do not want to be part of it.

For us, the idea of investing in fast-growing tree plantations is a complement to all those actions that companies take to be more nature-friendly. Our goal is to plant 25,000 hectares of plantations by 2035, which will result in a reduction of 1.5 million tons of CO2. In the scale of the country, this is not a large percentage of the total emissions. But what is more important to us is that paulownia cultivation, to a lesser or greater extent over time, will also reduce the cutting of native species, which need up to 100 years to grow. In terms of CO2 absorption, paulownia is 10 times more efficient in CO2 sequestration than traditional forests. Paulownia is not an invasive species. It has been cultivated almost worldwide for many years and does not threaten biodiversity. We have conducted a series of studies, consultations, and continue to work on more evidence that this is a great and natural solution for CO2 absorptions.

But we have State Forests in Poland. Shouldn’t they be responsible for planting trees?

That’s true, we do. Competing with them is not our goal. In Poland, we have over 9 million hectares of forests. The supply of wood from State Forests is about 30-40 million m3 annually. Planting 25,000 hectares will yield about 650,000 m3 of wood per year. So, this is also not a significant percentage of the demand for wood. However, let’s remember that the EU constantly wants to limit logging in its area of influence, so additional plantations may be beneficial for the timber industry in a few years. I will keep saying this: growing paulownia trees, regardless of whether someone supports or opposes global agendas regarding carbon footprint reduction, is on the positive side for the planet and will serve us well in times of widespread deforestation and cutting restrictions. Paulownia is a beautiful tree species that regrows from stumps after cutting. In Asia, after fires, paulownia was the only species that regrew quickly, which is why one of the paulownia clones is named Phoenix.

What about the wood? There are also voices questioning its quality.

There are about 40,000 species of trees in the world, each with its characteristics, and these individual characteristics determine its use. Paulownia is a lightweight wood ideal for the wider furniture industry, boat finishing, campers. Anywhere that weight matters. Another undoubtedly significant advantage of its weight is that it reduces emissions during the transport of wood or finished products. We already have several customers interested in the wood, so, knowing the timber industry for 15 years, I have no doubt that wood will be very useful to the industry.

From unofficial sources we know that you are finishing a publication with an interesting title “WHEN THERE WAS A FOREST, THERE WAS NO US. WHEN THERE WILL BE A FOREST, THERE WILL BE NO US”. What is this book about and what is its purpose?

Yes, after reading Bill Gates’ book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”, I decided to make a Polish publication about the global challenges that will create huge fortunes by solving them in the next decades. The world is facing a series of challenges that are not discussed enough publicly. Sometimes, by focusing too much on our own issues, we might stumble upon obstacles that could have been avoided if we were more attentive. I believe that today is the time to start thinking about future generations more than ever before. The growing population brings a series of problems that did not exist hundreds of years ago, increased demand for resources, epidemiological crises, rising sea levels threatening low-lying cities worldwide. These are just a few of the challenges humanity will face. The book aims to shed more light on these problems. After discussions with many companies that have now started working for Mother Nature’s benefit, we want to showcase examples of these companies and why they are acting for the climate, to inspire others to do the same.

So, it’s about inspiring others to act early rather than later on, out of desperation?

Exactly. We invite companies to share their actions for the climate within the pages of the book and become an inspiration for others. It’s a good time for the world to hear that not only profits matter but also a very positive global, ecological-social impact. It’s a unique opportunity to show the world our social responsibility for the future of the planet. We still have some space left to present to the world what your company is doing for the benefit of the planet. We plan to premiere the book at the upcoming Sustainable Economy Summit in May. We believe that this book will reach thousands of customers from all the companies that contribute to its publication.

So, we’ll see you at the Sustainable Economy Summit. Thank you for a pleasant conversation.

Absolutely, see you there.

Marcin Ujejski – president of Blue Timber SA and BeLeaf SA

President and main shareholder of Blue Timber SA, which manages the DrewnoDlaDomu brand, and the NC-listed company BeLeaf SA. Author of the book ‘Mathematical Formula for Success’.

Last Updated on April 26, 2024 by Krzysztof Kotlarski