Man’s quest to reverse climate catastrophe by planting trees

PUBLISHED: 09:00 06 November 2018

Michael Russell, from Christon, with the Christmas trees he used to build a lodge in Ethiopia.    

Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Michael Russell, from Christon, with the Christmas trees he used to build a lodge in Ethiopia. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

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A North Somerset family is hoping to plant thousands of trees and set up a clinic in Ethiopia to help the local community.

Michael Russell, from Christon, with the Christmas trees he used to build a lodge in Ethiopia.    

Picture: MARK ATHERTONMichael Russell, from Christon, with the Christmas trees he used to build a lodge in Ethiopia. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Michael Russell and his wife Selas Kidanu Russell, from Christon, bought a lodge in Ethopia with the money they have raised by selling Christmas trees in North Somerset.

They are now planning to use the profits from their lodge to invest in the community by improving the environment and providing healthcare.

Michael is a freelance consultant in forestry, landscape and ecology and has worked all over the world.

He believes their plans to plant trees on 12,000 hectares of land could pose the solution to climate change and he is hoping people all over the world will follow suit.

Michael Russell, from Christon, with the Christmas trees he used to build a lodge in Ethiopia.    

Picture: MARK ATHERTONMichael Russell, from Christon, with the Christmas trees he used to build a lodge in Ethiopia. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

He said: “We want to use the money we’ve earned from the lodge to help the environment and the people out there.

“What we are proposing to do in Ethiopia, I see as the main solution for what everyone is talking about to reduce climate change.

“Every year we are seeing landslides, floods and temperatures rising.

“The world used to be covered in 90 per cent forest which used to absorb all of the pollutants and keep temperatures down.

“In the UK there is now only about 10 per cent of forest.

“When you remove the forests all the pollutants go into our rivers.

“We need a massive change, worldwide, to reforest non-agricultural land, and all these problems could be reversed.

“It’s so simple. With more trees, wildlife can thrive, pollution is controlled, and plants which were endangered get a new lease of life.”

Michael trained in forestry and spent a year in Nigeria in 1972 when the seeds of his love for Africa and travelling were sewn.

He said: “I feel at this stage in my life I have learned a lot. I want to put something back but I don’t know the way to do it.

“With this current topic of climate change, now is the chance for me to speak up.

“I’m 69 now and I’ve got 30 years left to do something.”

The couple are keen to hear from anyone who would be interested in getting involved with the project or planting more trees in the UK.

Michael can be contacted at michaelrussell519@yahoo.co.uk

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