John Bourbon and John Mudge, directors of the Quadris Environmental Forestry Fund, explain to Alex Blackburne how they, along with the fund’s many investors, have been inspired by the Brazilian teak plantation that the fund invests in.
“When they come out of the laboratories, the seedlings start off as big as the tip of your fingernail“, explains John Bourbon.
“To watch them grow into something which, four weeks on, is about four inches tall, and then a couple of weeks after that it’s six inches, has a proper root system and leaves on the top of it, and then to think that in four or five years’ time, the thing is 12 to18 feet tall, is just incredible.”
The Quadris chairman, and director of the company’s Environmental Forestry Fund, is referring to the process undertaken at Floresteca’s Brazilian plantations, where up to four and a half million teak seedlings are collectively planted each year.
Teak is renowned for being one of the strongest, most durable and weather-resistant types of wood in the world, whilst also being one of the most easily adaptable, making it almost perfect for indoor and outdoor furniture. Floresteca, whose plantations cover over 100,000 hectares in Brazil, are the world leaders in producing it.
“To go into the plantations, it’s like looking at a stand of Grenadier Guards“, Bourbon continues.
“You just look down a line of trees and you can see how perfectly formed they are.
“It grabs you, and everybody that’s involved with it and is touched by it invariably comes to the same conclusion – it’s quite amazing.”
Quadris, which is based in Douglas, the capital of the Isle of Man, originally set up its Environmental Forestry Fund in 2001. And unlike the two previous focuses in this series – WHEB AM’s Sustainability Fund and Kames Capital’s Ethical Equity Fund – its sole investment is in Floresteca, the largest privately owned forestry company in South America.
“All their plantations are certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council, and they are very, very strong on ethics and sustainability, which is why we invest in them“, says John Mudge, also one of the fund’s directors.
“There is such demand for teak; the indigenous teak forests, predominantly in Burma, have been decimated, and it’s now very tightly controlled.
“What Floresteca have done is basically converted scrubland in Brazil to productive, sustainable plantations.
“They employ local people, support local communities, have their own charity – the Floresteca Foundation – which builds medical facilities, schools, and villages and so on, and they look after their workforce. It’s all quite uplifting.”
It’s obvious that the two men have been touched by the continued inspiring work done by Floresteca, and the Quadris fund really echoes the sentiments relayed by National Ethical Investment Week’s slogan – ‘make money and make a difference’.
The Environmental Forestry Fund was set up in 2001, and is currently worth £105m. Mudge is keen to convey the fund’s impressive performance statistics.
“The US dollar variable is the best class to look at because the assets are valued at US dollars, therefore the anomalies caused by exchange rate fluctuation are stripped out”, he says.
“The three year performance growth has been 25.57%, and two years has been 15.13%.”
A reoccurring myth surrounding ethical investment funds is that an investor must sacrifice performance for their morals or ethics – a point that countless IFAs and fund managers have dispelled on Blue & Green Tomorrow.
Mudge is another one to join that list.
“Just look at our track record“, he responds, completely justifiably.
This misconception that industry representatives are continuing to drive out makes you wonder where and how it all started.
Both Bourbon and Mudge have been out to Brazil to experience the Floresteca plantations for themselves, and state that the whole buzz surrounding the project is inspiring.
“One of the things that has really surprised me about the fund is that everyone that comes into contact with it becomes passionate about it“, explains Mudge, who has been at Quadris for five or six years.
“The number of people who really believe in what Floresteca are doing and what the fund is trying to achieve is absolutely fantastic – as is the whole ethic.”
Bourbon, who has been involved for 18 months, echoed his colleague’s attitude.
“The fund grabbed me as well“, he says, “it just does“.
“It’s just an incredible thing when you think about what’s going on – the growth of all this wood which is obviously desperately needed, particularly in hotter climates for building and the like, where hard wood such as teak is in desperately short supply.
“To think that we’re growing it in a sustainable way, whilst putting back loads of oxygen into the atmosphere, and employing about a thousand people at Floresteca in Brazil, you get a very warm feeling and you just believe very quickly in the fund and what it can achieve.”
Looking to the future, things look bright for the Quadris Environmental Forestry Fund, with a possible endless stream of teak production on the horizon, meaning it is entirely flexible over how and when they reap its financial rewards.
“The great thing is, teak grows“, says Mudge.
“Yes, there will always be some market volatility in the teak price, but as the asset grows close to maturity, if the price of teak is depressed, we can leave it in the ground, and it continues to grow, get bigger, and become more valuable.
“We also have the option if the price is much higher, to probably sell the teak forward to take advantage of that.
“You have flexibility, as long as people are willing to accept the long term nature of the underlying investment.”
The Quadris Environmental Forestry Fund is an entirely refreshing investment. It is ideal for specialist investors who are passionate about forestry and sustainable assets, although it should be noted that, at present, there are some restrictions on new subscriptions to the fund.
The nature of the fund is almost completely unique in that it invests in teak, which in Floresteca’s cycle, takes about 22 years to grow.
Therefore, as with most ethical funds, it’s not an investment for short term gain, but instead, provides financial security in the long term, whilst also helping our beautiful Earth to breathe. And that, for want of a better cliché, is priceless.
If you would like to find out more about the Quadris Environmental Forestry Fund, visit their website, and to explore Floresteca’s work in more detail, visit their’s too. Alternatively, if you would like to invest in such sustainable or ethical funds, contact your financial adviser, if you have one, or complete our online form, and we’ll connect you to a specialist ethical adviser.
How Going Green Can Save A Company Money
What is going green?
Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.
The first step in going green
There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.
Making needed changes within the company
After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.
Reducing the common paper waste
Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.
Make money by spreading the word
Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.
5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable
Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.
1. Weather stripping
If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.
Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.
Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.
2. Programmable thermostats
Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.
Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!
3. Low-flow water hardware
With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.
Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.
Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.
4. Energy efficient light bulbs
An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.
New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.
5. Installing solar panels
Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.
Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.
From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!
These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.
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