Frequently asked questions

Festivals imagine the world. They share stories and rhythms and images and ideas that celebrate our diversity and what we love. And festivals gather people together for an intense, communal, life-enhancing experience. There’s a hard environmental cost to these gatherings, a cost that we have to own.

The European Festivals Forest is a way for the festival industry and audience to lead a progressive call to climate action, and to do something about it together. Although the science and economics are elegantly complex, on any scale this plan is beautifully easy. It’s easy to tell, easy to do. Together we can do more, do better and reach further than each of us can do alone.

The European Festivals Forest is a carbon sequestration project to mitigate the carbon footprint of each festival. In our sector’s drive to Net Zero by 2030 this afforestation project is the carbon sequestration plan that complements your best practice in reduction, repurpose and recycling sustainability policy. 

Festivals introduce a carbon levy on each full booking, to be added as an opt-in at checkout. We recommend a levy of € 2, which is exactly 1 tree.
We will map the forested area for each festival and provide annual reports.

Festivals can join the European Festivals Forest via this form. 
As festival visitor, you can support the European Festivals Forest by buying tickets for your favourite festival and donate trees. Soon there will be a donate button on this website as well.

1 tree = € 2.
1 hectare of 2,500 trees = € 5,000

Iceland, Vatnshorn. Vatnshorn is an 1100-hectare abandoned farm on the shores of Lake Skorradalsvatn in West Iceland. The farm has a small amount of lowland, a slope and a large upland area. The slope in the most western part of the property is an intact, primeval birch forest that is protected as a nature reserve. Vatnshorn was purchased by the Icelandic Forestry Service in 1996 with the aim to protect this primeval forest and afforesting other parts of the property. The underlying glacial till combined with plentiful rain creates mesic (not too wet or too dry) soil conditions and several tree species are well adapted to the climate.

The polar thaw is melting ice on this northerly tip of Europe. This will accelerate. One positive by-product is that there is now the possibility of reforesting some of this land, nurturing animal habitat and collaborating with local agency. The land we use for the European Festivals Forest is covenanted by the Icelandic government for afforestation purpose in perpetuity so there is a guarantee of long-term commitment.

We are working with the Icelandic Forestry Service – Skógræktin – to plant 2,500 trees per hectare with locally incubated seedlings of Lodgepole pine, Sitka spruce, Black cottonwood, Downy birch in a mosaic landscape – a bio-diverse forest, with open glades, wetlands, streams and ponds.

This is a big project. Let us break it down into long, medium and short term, and then the now.

Long Term vision will enable Strava Sigríksdóttir, a 22nd century luthier, to make violins and guitars from the spruces planted in the 2020s. Forest thinking is like Cathedral thinking, but instead of generations we are planning centuries of arboretum.

Medium Term stability of geography, the Icelandic Forestry Service land management and partner ownership enables our festivals to plan for sustained and sustainable biodiversity, and carbon certification in 50-year cycles.  Time and international collaboration maximises both carbon sequestration and efficacy.

Short Term project management sees 2022 – mapping, fencing, scarification. 2023 – seed cultivation. 2024 – sapling plantation. 

NOW we can work together to pool our energy and resources to greatest effect. Pilot Festivals will make the Carbon Coin deal with audiences from the Summer of 2022, and start to invest in the EFF this Autumn.

According to the data of the Icelandic Forestry Service carbon sequestration can be metered and certified at 5-10 tonnes per hectare per year for 50 years.

Lodgepole pine, Sitka spruce, Black cottonwood and Downy birch.

We’ll be mapping the forest as it grows and providing photographs and stories online. We intend the forest to be open to visitors, artists, gyrfalcons, snowy owls, bears, wolves, elves, gruffalos and dragons… What you won’t find there are squirrels, because there aren’t any in Iceland. Which is one of the reasons why seedlings fare better. Same goes for arctic hares, which deplete saplings in Greenland.

  1. The Icelandic Forestry Service, Skógræktin is decades ahead of the rest of us in afforestation. They are the best. Best practice, best value, best forestry.
  2. The ownership and permanence of the land-use is guaranteed.
  3. Together we can exponentially improve the effect of what each of us, individually, can do. Though this is pretty much always true, it’s also specifically the case here as the bigger the forest we grow together the more efficient is the carbon sequestration.

Festivaletteratura (IT), Festivals of Flanders Brussels (BE),  Schiermonnikoog Festival (NL), STROOM (BE), ArtLink Festival Belgrade (SRB) and Wonderfeel (NL)

Everyone needs to understand their own context. There’s a useful impact calculator here, established by Cardiff University in Wales, that measures environmental and economic impact:

The Swiss Foundation myclimate provides an online calculator to calculate the CO2 emissions of your festival:

BTW: one of the most advanced green programmes for major events is being pioneered by our pilot partners at Festivaletteratura Mantova. Their fascinating climate action plan can be found here

Your donation will benefit the planting of new forest in Iceland in cooperation with the Icelandic Forestry Service. A small part (with a maximum of 10%) will be used to cover the costs of the foundation. These costs will be mentioned in the annual accounts, which will be published on this website. Should the foundation be dissolved, your donation will still be transferred to the Icelandic Forestry Service for the planting of trees.