Lost Forest 1

BrewDog was awarded a grant for in excess of £1.2m to kickstart its Lost Forest in 2022

BrewDog has confirmed over half of the trees it planted on the east coast of Scotland to sequester carbon have withered and died.

In 2022, the brewer was awarded £1,229,496 by government agency Scottish Forestry over a six-year period to get its plans to plant a ‘Lost Forest’ “capable of sequestering up to 550,000 tonnes of CO2 each year” off the ground.

To date, it has received nearly £700,000 of public money to put the project into action.

The funds were used to pay for fences surrounding the 9,300-acre plot on the site of the Kinrara Estate, Inverness-shire, and to cover the initial planting phase.

However, BrewDog CEO James Watt has admitted that – following “the fifth hottest Scottish summer on record” and a winter of “savage gales and sweeping frosts”, over half of the tree saplings it planted in conjunction with Scottish Woodlands had perished.

Losses were estimated to be at least 92,436 trees, according to figures obtained by campaigner Nick Kempe under a Freedom of Information request and published on the ParkswatchScotland blog.

Watt, who spent in the region of £8.8m to purchase the land for the project, said the setback showed “standing up to climate change can be an incredibly daunting task”.

“Woodland projects of this scale are always a challenge,” he wrote on LinkedIn. “You know that some saplings won’t survive, and you plan for it from the outset. But last summer’s extreme conditions resulted in a higher-than-expected failure rate, particularly Scots Pine, which is one of 11 native species we planted.”

A spokesman for Scottish Forestry said BrewDog would have to take remedial action as part of the terms of the government grant it received.

They said: “The level of loss here is higher than normal, which may be down to climatic factors after planting.

“The agent/owner will be required to replant the failed sections as a condition of the Forestry Grant Scheme contract to ensure that it is a fully stocked woodland at establishment.”

Watt reaffirmed BrewDog’s commitment to rebooting the project.

He said: “We have done a full assessment with Scottish Woodlands Ltd and two weeks ago we began replanting the failed saplings in earnest and we have already replaced 50,000 of the baby trees that did not survive the winter.”

“One thing that is for sure is that sustainability is hard. Whatever you do, you could do more. Whatever you do, there are critics who love nothing more than to tear it down. Whatever you do, it can feel totally insignificant. And things don’t always go to plan.
“Sustainability, like life, is hard, but it sure as hell beats the alternative.”