Viper Innovations' story
The company is passionate about reaching its goal to become carbon-neutral. To help them achieve this challenge, they have purchased a 31.5-acre plot of land in the village of Stogumber, West Somerset. The land comprises 14 acres of existing woodland, a mixture of mature and younger trees. The primary purpose of this land purchase is for carbon sequestration. It is intended that Viper and its employees will act as custodians for the exiting woodland and work with the Woodland Trust and Forestry Commission to plant the majority of the remaining 17 acres with new, mixed deciduous woodland.
To combat climate change, the UK government has established an action plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. As part of that plan, there is an urgent need for tree planting at a rate of 30,000 hectares of land every year. This land purchase and woodland creation scheme will help Viper offset its carbon footprint and move to net-zero emissions, whilst at the same time contribute to the overall target set by the UK government.
It is also proposed that some of the land will be used for forestry research to compare the efficiency of planting versus natural colonisation. In addition to this, there is the opportunity for an element of meadow rewilding with some of the existing pasture land. Viper and the Forestry Commission will be using this project as a case study to show how a business with the right CSR focus can create a significant and positive impact on the environment.
The Woodland project will offer many benefits to the environment and the wider community – such as encouraging biodiversity, allowing for family/community education in the woodland, and providing an enhanced environment for wildlife. The project will help with creating a diverse and protected habitat with a strong focus on ecology. The business has ambitious plans to further implement environmental initiatives into their organisation and ultimately reduce its impact on the environment whilst creating a rich habitat for wildlife within their new endeavour in Stogumber.
Useful learnings from Viper Innovations
Acquisition of land for tree planting does not have to be fully funded by a single company. A consortium of businesses can be established to provide sufficient capital to acquire a plot of land.
Currently, grants are available in England for undertaking woodland planning and then for the planting if the plot size is greater than 5ha, so this should be the smallest plot size unless the woodland planning and planting costs are to be self-funded.
It took us some time to find a suitable plot, but we were successful on the third attempt to buy, having been outbid at auction on two previous occasions.
Buying in a more remote location or where there is a lot of agricultural land generally means you get more land for your money and can therefore plant more trees.
When buying land it is recommended to use a solicitor familiar with land purchases (rather than property) since the transfer of land on the Rural Land Register (as well as on the Land Registry) must be completed correctly, otherwise, it is a long process to achieve the correct registration to be eligible for the many available grants.
The purchase of land that already includes some mature woodland means that there is an existing habitat that can be used to protect and improve the ecology. An existing, mature, woodland also provides a facility to implement an active woodland management plan (otherwise known as a team-building event).
This acts as a great basis for woodland and wildlife educational initiatives for staff, families and the community. As well as achieving the primary aim of woodland creation and protection of ecological habitats, the acquisition of the land has created a project that has been warmly welcomed by all staff and has created a high level of interest, not just from staff but from customers as well and we were happy to share our story as part of the Planet Mark Zero-Carbon Tour.
The initiative also supports our overall Corporate Social Responsibility commitment which is expected as well as welcomed by a number of our customers. The woodland remains an asset for the business but one that will remain in place for the staff and community for many generations.
Viper Innovations' metrics
Number of trees planted per year.