International Forest Garden / Food Forest Symposium

From 31 May-4 June 2021
now Open Access

We are a carbon-negative organisation – we store more carbon on our land sites than we produce

Environmental impact

We are acutely aware of the environmental impact and carbon footprint of all our events. Any international gathering such as this symposium is going to have an impact, however we are confident that any negative effects will be mitigated by positive action, in particular because most participants are actively planting and growing forest gardens / food forests, trees, and perennial crops. As an organisation, the Agroforestry Research Trust is carbon negative – we store more carbon on our land sites than we emit in all other ways. 

We considered the extent to which bringing people together face to face is so much more productive of ideas and knowledge-sharing than simply bringing people together in virtual spaces. It is axiomatic that much of the knowledge shared and many of the ideas generated through events like this happen during informal down-times rather than in formal sessions. Given that we are a group of people talking about environmental solutions, we believe that the potential for new knowledge and new solutions outweighs some of the environmental costs of travel in bringing people together.

Dartington Hall
The venue considers itself to be a green venue. Around 50% of its power is now generated through renewables (biomass derived from its own forestry, and solar) and a second biomass boiler is currently being added. The estate has a ‘zero to landfill’ waste collection and recycling policy, and much of the food consumed on the estate is either grown on the estate or is sourced from nearby where there are many organic farmers and growers.

Our office (in South Devon) is powered with 100% renewable energy (mostly self-generated solar.)

The following table gives a good overview of carbon emissions for different modes of transport and approximately what area of new or young forest garden is required to absorb these over a period of 20 years. We are confident that most delegates will be planting much greater areas than these!


Method of transport


Kg CO2 equivalent emissions
per hour (approx) 


Forest garden required (approx) 2

1.1 m
0.2 m2
0.4 m2
10 m2


1 CO2 equivalent figures from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Forest garden equivalent area figures derived from research and estimates from the ART forest garden (4.8 t Carbon sequestrated per hectare per year) minus estimated respiration losses (60%). Assumes forest garden has been established on previous agricultural land. In colder climate than the UK, figures are likely to be lower and in warmer parts potentially higher.

Food and other consumables
The food in lunches comes from the White Hart kitchen at Dartington Hall. Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, often from the Estate itself, and many are organic.

Teas, herb teas and coffee are all organic. We do not use disposable cups etc.

Name badges are made from a board badge, and a lanyard made of organic cotton using vegetable based dyes. All fully biodegradable. There will be a basket to collect lanyards at the end of the event for re-use.

Booklets: the symposium and field trip site booklets are all printed on recycled paper using vegetable based inks.

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