“Reconciling ecology and economy” is one of Ecotree’s ambitions, as Baudouin Vercken, one of Ecotree’s co-founders in 2016, specializes in enhancing the value of the forest and its biodiversity. The company buys forest stands that offer individuals and companies the opportunity to become owners of one or more trees, while ensuring their management.
In this way, it is therefore a long-term financial investment that the company, registered since 2018 with the Autorité des marchés financiers, offers its clients. Because the latter will benefit from the product of the sale of wood from the trees when they are cut at maturity, in a period of 35 to 125 years, depending on the species.
According to Ecotree, “the expected profitability of an increase in the volume of wood over time is on average 2% per year.” Beyond the financial aspect, the company addresses people and companies sensitive to the environment and sustainable development. Ecotree provides them with a technical sheet that indicates, in addition to the estimated economic profit, the absorption of the CO2 generated by the tree but also its precise location so that it can get there.
In B2C and B2B
Currently, Ecotree manages around 1,500 hectares of forest on about 40 farms, mainly in France, which it maintains in an ecological way, without pesticides or chemicals. If 30% of the activity is generated with individuals (around 50,000 clients), the company quickly turned to business with B2B offerings driven by the boom in CSR engagements.
The acquisition of trees thus compensates for the carbon footprint or constitutes a gift for customers or employees. “These two segments communicate. We see a snowball effect between the two,” Baudouin Vercken analyzes. Today, Ecotree reports 1,000 associated companies such as Arkéa, SNCF, H&M and Coca-Cola.
Two forests in Denmark
Profitable, Ecotree had a turnover of € 4.5 million in its 2020 financial year. Close to € 7 million are expected in 2021, with the year-end celebrations generating a peak of activity. This model developed in France, Ecotree now intends to push it internationally. The company has already opened an office in Copenhagen for two years.
“It is a hub that allows us to target other Scandinavian countries, but also German-speaking Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands,” explains Baudouin Vercken, mentioning that he was inspired, with these partners by the Danish “non-punitive ecology” dynamic. to found Ecotree. But until now, the company only offered its foreign clients to invest in French forests, while pursuing the goal of duplicating its forest management model there.
“This previously required adapting to the specifics of Danish law. It is done: we just acquired, in early October, two small forests near Copenhagen.” The first site covers about twenty hectares. Located on an island, the second will be wooded, starting this winter, with more than 20,000 trees.
Other projects related to biodiversity
To support this new phase of its development, the company has structured its team, going from 60 before the summer of 2021 to 73 employees. The teams are divided between Brest, Paris and Copenhagen, where Ecotree employs 15 people. In 2019, Ecotree raised funds of 3 million euros.
“We are considering another operation to support the development of society in general, but also our projects abroad”, specifies Baudouin Vercken. With the B-Corp label since June 2021, the company now sees, in the logic of preserving biodiversity, beyond trees, with first projects around beehives and wetlands.
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