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BrewDog in epic forest fail

BrewDog CEO James Watt has confirmed that almost 100,000 saplings planted by the brewer in Scotland to sequester carbon have withered and died.

In 2022 BrewDog submitted a proposal to plant thousands of trees on the eastern side of Kinrara, within the Cairngorms National Park, in an attempt to restore the area’s ‘Lost Forest’ and soak up carbon.

A promotional film released by the brewer claimed the forest would be “capable of sequestering up to 550,000 tonnes of CO2 each year”, with the company telling consumers that for every pack of BrewDog beer sold, “we plant a tree in the BrewDog Lost Forest”.

Despite objections from local residents, in June 2022 government agency Scottish Forestry awarded BrewDog up to £1,229,496 over a 6 year-period to erect a forest fence and dig up a large chunk of Kinrara to plant trees.

To date BrewDog has received nearly £700,000 of public money to action the project.

However, following a bleak discovery by park staff, BrewDog CEO James Watt has confirmed that the brewer had been caught out by the “extreme” conditions in the national park, and that more than half of the pine saplings they planted, along with almost all the fledgling oak trees, had perished.

The catastrophic loss is estimated to be at least 92,436 trees.

A spokesperson from Scottish Forestry said: “The level of loss here is higher than normal which may be down to climatic factors after planting.”

The same spokesperson added: “The agent/owner will be required to replant the failed sections as a condition of the Forestry Grant Scheme contract to ensure that it is a fully stocked woodland at establishment.”

Watt spent around £8.8million buying the 9,300-acre estate in Kinrara, and said he wanted to plant more than a million trees to regenerate the ancient woodland and sequester carbon.

He stated that he was prepared to see a financial loss in order to “save the planet”.

Watt blamed “an incredibly hot and dry summer” followed by “a harsh winter, where savage gales and sweeping frosts hammered the Scottish Highlands” for the demise of the trees.

Despite the project being hailed as “disastrous”, Watt said in a statement: “Standing up to climate change can be an incredibly daunting task and it would be all too easy to disengage; to decide to leave it to others and even to deride the efforts of those who choose to fight.

“But if everyone did that, there’d be no hope for humanity. So, we stay the course, and we don’t let setbacks, such as the one we’re currently experiencing, dishearten us.”

In December 2022, BrewDog had its B Corp status revoked just two years after joining the scheme.

Watt sent an internal memo to staff stating: “We have decided to step aside from our B Corp certification for the time being. B Lab had requested additional measures from BrewDog and the BrewDog board decided that these were not something we could do at this time.



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