Planting for the future

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Ross Muir, head of health, safety and environment at Jersey Electricity, outlines how the company’s CSR activities support the Island’s net-zero aspirations

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AS an essential service provider with a ‘natural monopoly’, our responsibilities to our island community are huge and they are responsibilities our entire team of dedicated employees take extremely seriously.

The very wellbeing and prosperity of everyone in Jersey is dependent on a reliable, affordable electricity supply.

The wider global community is now reliant on energy being low carbon, as the world strives to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to combat climate change. As we have seen at the recent COP27 climate summit in Egypt, the world is still falling well short of its target of limiting global warming to 1.50C above pre-industrial levels.

Jersey Electricity is also doing all it can to help the Island play its part in this global battle by supplying low-carbon nuclear and hydro power at scale and helping people switch from using fossil fuels. At just 24g CO2e/kWh last year, Jersey has some of the cleanest electricity in Europe.

But, of course, corporate social responsibility for a company the size of JE goes well beyond the responsibilities we meet through our business activities. We have always sought to support our community and the many organisations and charities that do so much to make Jersey such a wonderful place to live and work. We have traditionally focused this support on health, education and the environment.

Planting for a better future

While we continue supporting health-related organisations and educational initiatives, our vision is to inspire a zero-carbon future and much of our CSR activity is focused on realising this vision and supporting the government’s net-zero carbon ambitions. Since the government declared a climate emergency in May 2019, we have therefore increasingly concentrated our environmental initiatives on tree-planting to increase biodiversity and aid carbon sequestration in the long term.

In February this year, we completed the planting phase of the three-year Mourier Valley Woodland Restoration Project with partners the National Trust for Jersey, Jersey Trees for Life and joint sponsors Jersey Water.

The project, which began in 2019 and involves hundreds of volunteers including teams from JE, has been the largest-ever planting project the National Trust and Trees for Life have undertaken. An additional 23.5 vergées (4.2 hectares) that adjoin existing ancient woodland at the bottom of the valley are now covered with 13 mainly native species including 1,000 common oak, ash, sweet chestnut, hazel, wild cherry, bird cherry, silver birch, larch and sallow, which were selected to suit the exposed conditions, alongside rowan, Scots pine, Monterey pine and black pine.

Last year we partnered with the government to fund Jersey’s first carbon-absorbing Tiny Forest at Hautlieu School. Along with Jersey Trees for Life, Earthwatch Europe and students, we planted 600 trees in a tennis-court-sized plot. The method means the trees will grow ten times faster than under a traditional planting scheme and will generate 100 times more biodiversity and absorb up to 30 times more carbon.

Parish Earth Partnership

This year, St Clement became the first parish to plant for our Parish Earth Partnership for which we’ve offered a total of £60,000 for parishes to densely plant and maintain small plots with native trees to increase biodiversity and aid carbon sequestration over the long term. Around 40 parishioners, supported by two teams of Jersey Electricity employees, planted almost 1,000 whips in a large meadow behind St Clement’s Parish Church.

Our next big planting project is at Bouley Bay where, again in partnership with the National Trust and Jersey Trees for life, we will be funding and helping to plant trees over a large swathe of land on the north coast, which has been gifted to the trust. We are grateful to all our partners and the many volunteers who have made these projects possible so far.

We are also supporting St Helier Youth and Community Trust to create La Pouquelaye Community Garden, which will include a forest school, arboretum, children’s allotments and sensory garden as part of our Parish Earth Partnership.

Support for health

We continue our long-term partnership with Family Nursing and Home Care. The charity used our annual Christmas donation to help fund a huge 3D-effect mural at its children’s community centre, Pip’s Place, which supports more than 7,000 children and young people through many groups and health services. We also sponsor and participate in the annual Colour Festival, which raises funds for a children’s palliative care nurse.

Educating the next generation

We have supported the National Trust for Jersey’s full-time education officer for three years. Activities, which employees are encouraged to help with, complement schools’ science curricula and encourage children to reconnect with nature. The programme has also led to the creation of Power Rangers, a young environmentalists’ club providing training for Young United Nations Global Alliance challenge badges.

To encourage future generations of engineers, we are an industry partner for the UK initiative, Primary Engineer. Led by Skills Jersey, Primary Engineer engages pupils in science, technology, engineering and maths-related careers through a competition called If You Were An Engineer, What Would You Do? for which we provide mentoring engineers and judges.

We are also long-term partners and supporters of the FNHC initiative Child Accident Prevention Safety In Action Week, during which our employees volunteer to present to over 1,000 schoolchildren on home and electrical safety at a week-long series of workshops.

Our staff charity draw continues to raise more than £500 every month for employee-nominated local charities through donations paid directly from salaries. Nominated charities to have benefited this year are Jersey Stroke Association, The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Jersey, Jersey Hospice Care, Teenage Cancer Trust, Caring Cooks of Jersey, Parkinson’s UK, Jersey Breast Cancer Support, Jersey Beekeepers’ Association, Tiny Seeds, Jersey Hedgehog Preservation Group and Liberate.

Jersey Electricity continues to support our community, with more initiatives planned for 2023.

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