At the start of season 2021/22, our increased focus on sustainability led the matchday programme to partner with a non-profit reforestation organisation, Carbon Link, to ensure the publication was carbon neutral - and the Arsenal Forest in Bore, Kenya was born.
CarbonLink calculated that we needed to plant 12,500 trees to ensure the programme’s environmental impact was neutral and during the course of the season, the club actually planted close to 15,000 trees as supporters added to our contribution. More and more fans appreciated the opportunity to purchase trees – at just £1 each – as a way to offset their own carbon footprint or buy as a gift for environmentally conscious Arsenal-supporting friends and family.
In our second season, the total amount of trees planted on the equatorial site is now 24,000 with the number expected to be close to 30,000 by the season’s end. For scale, the site is now over 13 football pitches in size, and our first saplings planted in late 2021 are now over two metres tall. The rapid growth comes from the equatorial position of the site, meaning far more carbon is drawn down than would be possible if we planted in the UK, as our drought and disease-resistant neem trees flourish.
But the Arsenal Forest has become about much more than just a carbon offsetting project. We are now very much embedded into this eastern Kenyan community, creating significant opportunities for employment, supporting the local football teams and inspiring the whole region to think about sustainability.
Here are some of the ways we are benefiting the region.
- 37 acres of deforested and degraded scrub has been cleared, fenced and protected
- The trees will provide poor subsistence farmers with a valuable sustainable timber cash crop
- The propagation, planting and management of the trees employ 60 women who use the income to provide education for their children, and also to set up separate businesses to increase their financial independence
- 120 poor farmers are being supported with employment in the establishment of the plantation
- Two full-time jobs have been created for the forest caretakers
- The trees will also hugely help the tropical forest wildlife of the region, supporting hundreds of other species in what is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet
- The Forest is now supporting 20 beehives, helping the ecosystem and providing another commodity for local people to trade
- The neem tree used in our Forest is by far the most effective species in the area and its association with the Gunners means it is now referred to as ‘the Arsenal tree’ in this part of Kenya and has become hugely popular in other sustainability schemes, drawing down more carbon in the Arsenal name
- The local football team, the Bore Lions, are now kitted out in our colours. They regularly visit local schools wearing our kit to inspire local children
- Earlier this season, the local women in the community – inspired by the association with Arsenal – formed the first-ever women’s team in the region, the Bore Lionesses to whom we now provide kit and equipment
- We now sponsor the regional football tournament - The Neem Cup - which had its first-ever women’s version in 2022/23
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.