French hotel group Accor is to fund the planting of 200,000 trees in the UK as part of its new Plant for the Planet programme.
It announced the initiative, which is aimed as promoting sustainable food production and nurturing links between hotels, guests and farms, to mark the first anniversary of its Planet 21 sustainability strategy launched across the group's 3,500 hotels worldwide.
Aimed to engage Accor's employees and guests on sustainability, Planet for the Planet will involve up to 50 projects across the UK by the end of 2015. It is financed by money saved when guests reuse towels rather than send them to be washed.
While Accor has planted over three million trees worldwide since 2008 at a rate of around 1500 each day, the focus of Plant for the Planet will see the impact of the new trees being maximized in the same countries as the hotels that fund them. This will allow properties to build close links with their communities and develop strong partnerships with local farms, as well as preserve the environment.
Sophie Flak, Accor's executive vice president for sustainable development said she believes that the programme can have a real impact. "Worldwide we aim to launch 21 projects by the end of 2013 and we expect to finance 200,000 trees in three years in the UK alone.
"Plant for the Planet will cut our energy and water consumption thanks to laundry savings, support organic and low-impact farmers, and involve our guests in pioneering a sustainable food system. This new initiative demonstrates our commitment to responsible growth which generates shared value for all."
Accor is supported in Plant for the Planet on a global basis by Pur Projet, an expert in developing community forestation projects, while the Woodland Trust is managing the programme in the UK, with help from the Soil Association and Organic Research Centre. It is hoped the scheme will be launched on 10 farms this year.
Woodland Trust partnerships manager Helen Chesshire said she is delighted by Accor's to sustainability. "It's about making trees work for the farm to deliver a range of benefits. They can improve productivity, reduce spending on fertilisers and make farms more resilient to extreme weather.
Trees thoughtfully integrated into farms can deliver real business benefit, and enhance the environment, and thanks to Accor we'll be able to offer tree-planting to even more farmers."
• An audit of Accor's Planet 21 initiative, which set targets to cut energy, water and water as well as introduce eco-friendly products and engage staff and guests on sustainable development, by 2015 has produced the following results across the 140 owned, leased and managed hotels it controls directly in the UK:
74% have an identified sustainability manager
96% use low-energy lights in rooms
94% save energy by insulating pipes containing hot or cold fluids
93% have installed flow regulators on taps and showers to save water
83% recycle edible fat and electronic equipment
92% or more recycle ink cartridges, batteries, fluorescent lights, paper, cardboard
91% use eco-friendly cleaning products
92% offer healthy meals at their restaurant
95% take action to raise guests' awareness of sustainable development