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. 

Participation in the European Festival Forest is simple and can be done in several ways:
– a Carbon Coin levy of €2 on every booking
– voluntary donation of €2 (or a multiple) via your ticket system
– a fixed amount to offset travel movements

We will map the forested area and provide and issue an annual certificate for the newly planted trees.

Festivals can join the European Festivals Forest via this form. 
As a festival visitor vou can also donate trees directly to European Festivals Forest here.

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

Over 30 years, 3 trees will capture 1 tonne of carbon. That’s €6 per MtCO2e.

Iceland, Tumastaðir. Tumastaðir (Tom’s Place) was originally a plantation owned by the Norwegian Forest Service. At the time, the land was completely forestless. In 1944, a grove of Sitka spruce was planted on the slope; the first in Iceland with more than a few trees. Tumastaðir is now a diverse forest – including ash, oak, martåll – with open areas and good access to roads and trails. The Sitka spruce seed garden is located in Tumastaðir with selected trees that will produce seeds in the coming years. Also produced there are seeds of the so-called ‘Emblu’, a mixture with Icelandic birch, which is bushy and fast-growing.

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 Land og Skógur (formerly known as 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, Land og Skógur 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 in 2023 saw mapping, fencing, scarification and seed cultivation. May 2023 first planting of saplings. Seeds were pre-ordered in summer 2023 for planting in spring 2024.

NOW we can work together to pool our energy and resources to greatest effect. Please join us.

According to the data of Land og Skógur, the Icelandic forest service, carbon sequestration can be metered and certified at 1 tonne of carbon per 3 trees, over 30 years. A 1,000-kilometre flight can be offset, over 30 years, by planting 1 tree.

Lodgepole pine, Sitka spruce, black cottonwood and downy birch. We are also now planting silver birch (ideal for those silver anniversaries!), and will be including ash, elm and even oak, which is now thriving in Iceland for the first time ever.

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. Land og Skógur (formerly known as 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. It can de ecologically disruptive to repurpose farm or meadowland.
  4. 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.

Meanwhile, fourteen festivals from Germany, Switzerland, Kosovo, Serbia, Italy, Spain, Iceland and the Netherlands are participating plus three touring organisations: the Brussels Jazz Orchestra, Fast Forward Classical and the Flamenco Agency. Read more about the participants here.

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:

You can also engage UK organisation A Greener Festival for a comprehensive CO2 analysis 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 climate action plan can be found here

Your donation will benefit the planting of new forest in Iceland in cooperation with Land og Skógur. A small part 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 Forest Service for the planting of trees.