Deforestation and Measuring Biodiversity:

A Sustainable Enterprise Tech Council Conversation

Jan 17, 2023 12:00 PM1:00 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways:

When it comes to sustainability, it’s crucial that communities and corporations act fast and commit themselves to practices that are better for the planet. However, the issues surrounding the environment are all-encompassing. So where do you begin?

One major facet of the greater sustainability crisis is deforestation, which hinders biodiversity and threatens living beings. On top of this, deforestation contributes to the rapid acceleration of climate change, putting the entire planet at risk. Is there anything companies can do to reverse deforestation and build out their sustainability initiatives?

In this virtual event, Greg Irwin is joined by Beau Milliken, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Kijani Forestry and Founder and Executive Director of Crux Engineering and Construction. Beau goes in depth about Kijani’s mission to reverse deforestation, how carbon credits work, and the organization’s growth trajectory. He also shares how companies can build partnerships to work toward a better future and progress in their sustainability practices.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Beau Milliken describes Kijani Forestry’s sustainability solutions
  • How Kijani works with local communities in Uganda to grow their tree nurseries
  • Beau explains the deforestation trends in Uganda
  • How does Kijani fund its mission, and how do carbon credits fit into the model?
  • Beau talks about the possibilities of genetically modified trees
  • Beau’s thoughts on permanence and risk factors
  • Kijani Forestry’s long-term growth goals
  • Dealing with the adverse effects of black charcoal
  • How deforestation management compares to other sustainability practices
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Guest Speaker

Beau Milliken LinkedIn

Co-Founder; Co-CEO at Kijani Forestry and the Founder; Executive Director at Crux Engineering and Construction

Beau Milliken is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of Kijani Forestry, a company that plants trees to reverse deforestation and break the cycle of climate-induced poverty in Africa. He’s also the Founder and Executive Director of Crux Engineering and Construction, a company based in Uganda that provides high-quality structures at an affordable price. Beau is a business-minded engineer with extensive experience and a vision to take care of people and the planet.

Greg Irwin LinkedIn

Co-Founder, Co-CEO at BWG Strategy LLC

BWG Strategy is a research platform that provides market intelligence through Event Services, Business Development initiatives, and Market Research services. BWG hosts over 1,800 interactive executive strategy sessions (conference calls and in-person forums) annually that allow senior industry professionals across all sectors to debate fundamental business topics with peers, build brand awareness, gather market intelligence, network with customers/suppliers/partners, and pursue business development opportunities.

Event Moderator

Beau Milliken LinkedIn

Co-Founder; Co-CEO at Kijani Forestry and the Founder; Executive Director at Crux Engineering and Construction

Beau Milliken is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of Kijani Forestry, a company that plants trees to reverse deforestation and break the cycle of climate-induced poverty in Africa. He’s also the Founder and Executive Director of Crux Engineering and Construction, a company based in Uganda that provides high-quality structures at an affordable price. Beau is a business-minded engineer with extensive experience and a vision to take care of people and the planet.

Greg Irwin LinkedIn

Co-Founder, Co-CEO at BWG Strategy LLC

BWG Strategy is a research platform that provides market intelligence through Event Services, Business Development initiatives, and Market Research services. BWG hosts over 1,800 interactive executive strategy sessions (conference calls and in-person forums) annually that allow senior industry professionals across all sectors to debate fundamental business topics with peers, build brand awareness, gather market intelligence, network with customers/suppliers/partners, and pursue business development opportunities.

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Discussion Transcription

Greg Irwin  0:18

So a little bit of background, I'm one of the partners at BWG. We're a research firm. And we run these types of panels, right, lots of different topics. And we have been in partnership here with WWT, which is Worldwide Tech, which is the largest technology integrator in the US. And we really wanted to push the UN initiative around sustainability, all encompassing sustainability. So in doing so, the question always came up, like, you know, how do we actually have an impact. And in doing so we created the SETC, which I put the link in there sustainable, sustainable enterprise technology council. And it's a group that speaks once a month. And we talk about tangible ways that people are making headways around all aspects of sustainability. It could be greater efficiency on your technology, it could be heating and cooling for your datacenter. It could be d i initiatives. And today I'm really happy that we're going to be speaking with Beau Milliken about deforestation. The way this works, couple a couple of thoughts. First, do me a favor, follow SCTC. So you can keep up to date with all these kinds of conversations that we have. To this conversation. This format isn't a podcast. This is an interactive real discussion. So I want to take advantage that I want people to ask real questions, I want to learn from what others in the group are seeing or doing or thinking on the topic. So I'm going to start here with Beau and Beau you and I maybe will spend 20 minutes and some q&a and understanding how Kijani is making a difference. But then, what I'd like to do is go around the group and take questions and hear how others are thinking about carbon footprint, deforestation and other related topics. The chat works brilliantly. So as we go drop your questions and and please feel free to respond to others questions. And then lastly, this is a council This is a community. So I want to encourage people to connect. The easiest way to connect is this this dialogue. One other way is if you're able to please turn on your camera, if you're not in some crazy environment. And if you're able to focus and turn your camera on, that'll make it that much richer. With that, why don't we go and introduce Beau. Again, thanks for accepting our invitation. Do us a favor and please introduce yourself to our community here.


Beau Milliken  3:12

Yeah, well, Thanks, Greg. Appreciate it. And thank you all for tuning in. So my name is Beau Milliken. I'm one of the three cofounders of Kijani Forestry. I'm the co CEO and yeah, a little bit about Kijani Forestry. So we are operating in East Africa. And our initial vision with Kijani Forestry is that we had seen the deforestation that was happening because of the charcoal industry in Uganda. And then at the same time, we've also seen the price of charcoal, tripling in the last decade of which I've been working in Uganda for the last decade. And so with that, you know, kind of as a business minded person, I was like, Well, what's what's causing this massive increase? And that's, as I'm literally seeing forests disappearing? And so looking into kind of what the problems were trying to figure out, Is there a business solution that we could address this with, and not just, you know, an initiative to plant 10,000 trees and call it good, but there's something sustainable that is going to last beyond, you know, what that next donation would cover. And so with this, and with my partners, we developed Kijani Forestry. So at Kijani Forestry, what we do is that we plant trees that grow quickly that are indigenous and can be harvested sustainably from the existing roof structure. So instead of well, I guess the big background for anyone that may not know essentially charcoal that you cook with is a biomass that is superheated without oxygen turns into charcoal. So with that, most of that is created through an unsustainable deforestation approach where it's essentially a mining activity where people go in, remove all the trees produce charcoal, and then call it good and move on to the next one and So with that, I mean, you've gone to use to be over 50% forest and is now down to 9%. And so you're just seeing massive deforestation not only because of the charcoal industry, but largely. So with that, looking at what is an approach that we could, yeah, grab these trees sustainably, we found this, you know, I hate to call it technology, but this proven solution of coppicing, which means that after a tree is harvested, you can manage it so regrows from the same root structure, and actually your grounds quicker than if you were just to leave a tree there for seven years that research has shown that after a composting, you let three stems regrow and harvest, and to get three times the amount of biomass from the same tree. And so with this, pairing this with another kind of a multiplier in this process of producing the charcoal more efficiently. So that was a huge inefficiency in the supply chain. Mostly because trees are generally free. I mean, it's the US might be familiar with the tragedy of the commons, it's just trees are out there they exist. And so you cut them make charcoal move on. Now you don't have to pay for them in some situations. So. So with that you have this common commodity that then gets turned into charcoal. And people are, you know, need charcoal to produce hair to cook their meals. And so we're really looking at this entire market ecosystem of the deforestation happening the inefficient charcoal, and can we apply better technology into producing this charcoal, as well as not necessarily coming from, you know, Western mindset saying, Well, why are using charcoal use electricity and just like kind of having a cultural understanding of what's going on. And even on the same side with the technology to produce the charcoal knowing, hey, charcoal is produced in this decentralized ecosystem. And so with that centralizing it goes opposite of how the entire industry works. So can we invent a technology and implement that, that produces charcoal more efficiently at the point where the trees are harvested, so people will actually use this technology.


So yeah, so that kind of is generally how we got our start. So with that, we bought a plot of land, about 400 acres, planted some trees, and then from there realise that a lot of the surrounding communities also wanted to be partnering with us in what we're doing. And so it's worth that we kind of pivoted from a more of a plantation model to an outdoor scheme, where we partnered with existing groups and communities to plant trees on their farm so they can be the owner of the trees. And we can work together in a profit share model down the road. And so with that, we piloted this in 2020, planted 115,000 trees with around 150 households. 2020 was a difficult year to run a very social enterprise where you're going and meeting strangers for the first time and people are, you know, all the COVID stuff. But sunrise, even with all those challenges, we weren't able to get out and to help people actually plant the trees and maintain the seedlings. And so we kind of just thought they were all going to die. But what was really amazing is that we came back and all these communities who didn't even receive the training on how to properly plant the trees and maintain them, had planted them. And they were so enthusiastic about this, that they went and they planted the trees. And so from there that's kind of led us to scaling up what we call our nursery hub model. It's a kind of like the hub and spoke model centered around a nursery and people plant these so. So with that we've you know, we have over 600 nurseries in rural Uganda that we've established as of last year, you know, we grew from 115,000 trees to over a million to over 5 million. This year, we're aiming for 20 million trees. And so we've we've really, we've been quite humbled to see the demand for what we're doing it for planting trees and for people to be really enthusiastic about that. And so this has grown quite significantly, we've expanded beyond charcoal to really holistically look at the farmer's household needs, because these are the people that you know, if we're taking a climate change perspective, these are the people that have done basically nothing to cause climate change yet are the ones that are receiving half as much rain and, you know, half as much duration, and are really suffering in here now. And so looking at this saying, Yeah, charcoal is one side of the equation, but can we help build wealth through growing timber trees? And can we help, you know, address food security by planting, you know, fruit trees, and all of this doing within this intercropping ecosystem where we're pairing these crops with these trees that biologically have a symbiotic relationship where they're helping each other out? And can help you know, reduce the strain when it doesn't rain for a week and just keep more in the soil as well as Just make sure that everything's getting taken care of. Because if you're reading one, you're winning the other one. And there's a lot of, you know, co benefits with all that. So,


Greg Irwin  10:09

Beau, you've shared a lot to guess. Yeah, sorry, I'll fire how to like, I don't know, can we can Can we clap here or congratulate you? Because it's amazing. Like, I don't know, I don't know if others feel the same way. And we went from, you know, two years ago growing 100,000 trees to 5 million trees. Last year. 20 million trees. Amazing. I think we're all like, you know, I'm Yeah,


I think yeah, yeah. Blown away.


I guess the question I've got, I have a bunch of questions. But what's the overall trend in terms of deforestation in Uganda over this period of time? So you're here? I mean, are you? You know, what one man trying to hold back a tide? Is there a real shift that you can see or you know, a stabilization? In terms of the deforestation trend in Uganda? Yeah,


Beau Milliken  11:08

I mean, first of all, I'm, I'm representing an amazing staff of 200 people that are all doing this together. So I don't want to take any more credit than what I'm do but. But with this, I mean, and not trying to sound arrogant, we haven't found anyone else that's addressing this problem, really, kind of the closest thing that we've seen are people that are introducing efficient cooking stoves, which is great, those are great. It's really only looking at a different part of the supply chain. No one's really working on the supply of biomass, in terms of addressing this problem, which, even if you slow this all down, that's not really addressing the supply. Right. And so within Uganda, I mean, we've seen it, it's hard to get the exact data, but based on the reports of what the national reports versus our GIS data, it's accelerating quite quickly, in part because Kenya has put a ban on cutting down some of their trees. So instead of people stuffing, using charcoal, Uganda is now just exporting into Kenya. So, you know, we're, it's, yeah, it's, we haven't seen anyone else trying to address this problem. Almost period. But you know, at scale of what we're doing, there are certain briquettes that people are trying to do but you know, it's tough people who put sensors generally to briquettes come from kind of charcoal dust formed. And that's what a lot of us are used to cooking with in the West, right, kind of the, you know, square diamond shape briquettes. Those really haven't been adopted on a large scale in Uganda. And there's also not like the industry to really support that on the back end, where a lot of charcoal here comes from waste from the timber industry and things like that can be used for for cat production. So for cats, you know, there's some pretty small scale, artisan briquette makers that are doing a great job. And that needs to be scaled up there needs to be adoption of that, but haven't seen anything on a wide scale. That's really slowing things down.


Greg Irwin  13:13

Do you believe that going from 50% to 9%? When you look ahead for the next 10 years? Are you are you optimistic? Or are you pessimistic in terms of that that trend of deforestation in Uganda? Yeah, I


Beau Milliken  13:31

mean, I think with all pessimists, I call myself a realist. And I, you know, I spent a lot of times, or a lot of my time in Excel running the numbers. And I can't say that I'm overly optimistic. I mean, we're scaling up rapidly. We haven't cut any of our trees down for charcoal yet. So we're not really putting a dent in the supply chain. We hope that, you know, that's going to just, you know, lag by five years, but follow the scale that we're doing. So I think that in time, we're going to have some, you know, more serious effects on the actual supply chain. It's hard to say, I mean, you know, a lot of people have different ideas where, you know, I think in coming from Western context, it's sometimes hard to be like, Well, why aren't you cooking with natural gas, and it's like, it's actually more expensive, you require, you know, a stove that you have to buy for a natural gas thing can cost up to, you know, 50% of a family's annual income, and then you have to buy the natural gas and put the deposit on the tank. And if you're, if you're not used to cooking for it, and you leave it on, that's like a devastating amount of, you know, your family's income spent for that. And then electricity is not 100% consistent, where even if it's 95, consistent, percent consistent. If you're cooking your meal and electricity goes out, like what are you not going to eat that night, you know, and then people with solar cooking stoves, it's like, it's great when it's sunny. It's So, it's hard to say that people shouldn't be cooking with charcoal at this point with all the other factors going on, you know, so. And even looking at Kenya, who's probably about 20 years more advanced than Uganda, in terms of general economy, they're still using charcoal there, and they have far fewer trees than what we have as well. So it's hard to say that Uganda, even optimistic people are thinking 30 years before you got into fully turns away from charcoal. And so what's going to happen as you got into runs out of trees is that it'll go over to Congo and start ticking trees from the Congo, and that's gonna, it's, you know, no one's addressing the problem necessarily. It's just Yeah, it's shifting.


Greg Irwin  15:45

Hey, so, Philip, I want to, I want to, I want to thank you for dropping the question in there. And this is how it's gonna work. Like, first off, I'm gonna ask you to give a little intro and a little context for it. I'd love to ask the question. And I want to stir the pot. So I'm not the only one asking the questions. So Philip, do me a favor, give a real quick intro. Tell us a little bit of context for your question


Guest Speaker 1 16:07

for us. Yeah, hi, everyone. I'm Philip. I work with the Dutch based geospatial monitoring provider, we work with a lot of companies like Rabobank, modeles, various other ones. And I, this question comes with the context of, it's really exciting to see on the ground operations like this scaling up. And I'm curious to see what the kind of pain points that are the challenges in terms of scaling up and I know that, you know, financial ones can be one of those. And I'm curious how companies are engaging, and whether they're, whether they're like investing in this and looking to get carbon offsets? Are they trying to kind of, you know, companies that are sourcing materials from these regions, I know that obviously charcoal is probably not going to be as much exported, but are companies operating in those regions trying to integrate it within their ScienceBase targets? I'm just trying to get a sense for the broader context within carbon management.


Greg Irwin  17:18

Awesome. Thanks. Beau. Yeah, what do you think?


Beau Milliken  17:25

Yeah, great questions. So we've actually raised a relatively quite a small amount of money to actually get this off the ground. And that was just in our first year of operations. So we're actually in the black already without harvesting our trees because of some service contracts. So there are different people, I don't know if anyone's heard of the search engine out of Germany called it COSIA. So it's a search engine that uses all their profits to plant trees. They, you know, they're awesome. So we're one of their, I can't say exactly, I don't know, their contracts, but we're one of their larger service providers. So this year, we're planting 5 million trees on behalf of the kosher, and this partnership, so and then we have several other partners as well that we are providing the service of, like, yes, we still the farmers still own the trees, and they know that we're going to cut these down, but people that are in this space realize like, you can't just, you can't only plant trees and not expect them to be used. And so taking a realistic sustainable approach to that, you know, all these partners are like, yeah, we're very happy to do this, because of where we see you guys going and what your goals are. And so with that, so we're currently producing or, yeah, we're, we're making money through these different service contracts. And then with that, we are in the process of kind of entering into the carbon markets with us all. And so that is going to be in the future, where we see our largest revenue stream coming from is essentially kind of in a profit share model, again, with the farmers, let's, you know, sell these create and sell these carbon, you know, carbon credits, and use that to continue our expansion, as well as help maintain the long term that pay the farmers over time. So not just, Hey, plant these trees, and in five years, you'll have income, but less, you know, actually create these jobs where people's job and income is planting trees. And that's the vision that we see if like, Hey, this is this is possible with the amount of revenue that we think we could get from the carbon credits that if we can turn these into jobs that are sustainable, that are feeding families, that can be just an amazing future for so many people and really help kind of get the flywheel going faster and faster. Cool,


Greg Irwin  19:47

but one of the questions I've got is we talk a lot about, I mean, we have a number of folks here and ESG roles, and they have a goal of getting to carbon neutrality and a big part of that is basically to buy by buying offsets, which fundamentally, is delivering money to you to effectively plant trees. I'm really curious about the last mile of that, from your perspective. So if somebody were to buy some offsets that that result in the value of a credit that, in fact, you might be able to qualify for, what are the economics? between how much credit or the value of credits that you'd be able to earn on a single trade? And is it profitable for you to is it sustained, sustainable, and self fulfilling for you to actually, you know, run your operations off of the credits, which, by the way, is very much being generated by some of the people on, you know, in this in this forum? Basically, can you tell us does it work? Yeah.


Beau Milliken  21:01

I don't want to speak to everyone out there planting trees. Right. I want to speak to our model, obviously, for us, yes, I mean, this, what we're seeing the trend that we're seeing in the direction of carbon credits, is that the price is now you know, at a level that can actually sustain an operation, you know, if we're looking at a $4 carbon credit, like, no, no, no one's making it happen for that, you know, like, that's just, it's not possible. But as the price is claiming that that is something that, I mean, first of all, you know, kind of selfishly, as a company, like, we need to make sure that we have money to operate. So once the press goes past a certain point, then we can actually start to pay out the farmers on a really, like in on, you know, in our ideal scenario, we can actually start to pay out these farmers at a certain point. But if we plant a tree, and you know, let's just call it a $10, credit, price point, and that just covers our operations. And we're only getting $10, and we can't bankrupt our company, by paying out the farmers 10% of that. And, you know, we have to be around to make sure that we can not only, you know, not just a carbon credit generator, like we have very tangible physical products that we need to, you know, create this ecosystem for the farmers for this really to work and be sustainable.


So for us, it's like, yes,


I would say for us, yes, we see this being something that can sustain our operations. Hopefully, once we're generating a significant amount of credits, we can get, you know, pre purchases on future credits for our Kenya expansion, because we're moving into Kenya this year. And, you know, we want to move into, I mean, we, we'd like to be just about everywhere, you know, but yeah, looking at that, kind of partnering with these different people in ESG. And the people and you guys are probably all aware of where the carbon markets are going, like, there's going to be a huge supply issue in the future. So either people are gonna have to, you know, change their targets, or there's going to be a bidding war people that actually want to do that. So you have a lot of companies like Microsoft that are investing on the earlier end to just say, hey, we know it's gonna be 510 years before we're getting these credits. So we want to lock this in. So you have a lot of companies starting to move towards that if they're serious about their net zero targets.


So we're hoping to leverage that to help us grow and expand to a different, you know, different countries, and really provide just an amazing service to all the farmers that we're working with to help improve their lives and create sustainable livelihoods.


Greg Irwin  23:41

I see Imran I saw your hand, I'm going to come to you here in a moment. But I want to follow up with you about I'm a former engineer, I like numbers. So I'm going to ask you if you can share with us the unit economics. How much credits, how much dollar credit do you get for planting a tree? And what does it cost you to not just plant the tree but to plant the tree to run your operations? And to feed and to and to basically compensate a farmer for managing it? Can you share with us like the unit economics of how it currently plays out? Yeah,


Beau Milliken  24:16

although I'm going to give you an annoying answer of yesterday. In part, because we are right now we're pre promising money to farmers from credits that we have in generated at a price point that's unknown to us. So.


Greg Irwin  24:32

So with that, I'll take I'll take representative and because I'll yeah, I'll take your guests cool, because I know that there are lots of scenarios and, and realities in terms of what you're going to describe here. But I'd still like to get a general sense. Yeah.


Beau Milliken  24:48

So yeah, I mean, so just just generally, let's say that in our in our model that a tree is going to produce point one credits over its lifetime. And so with that, let's call it a $20 carbon Credit. So roughly 70 cents of that is going to us planting the tree training the farmers kind of like getting a tree that survives in the ground, because there's a lot of people out there that plant trees, but we grow trees, and there is a difference. So with that, we kind of price it out based on the trees that are actually growing. Because if you plant a tree and it dies, you don't get carbon credits. So So based on that somebody's sense is roughly what we kind of grow a tree for. And that's just on the planting side. So what we haven't been doing, but what carbon credits will allow us to do is to help pay to maintain these trees over time, right. So looking at maybe like an annual forest send payments to farmers until the tree is ready to be harvested. And using that revenue to do that, and also investing a lot more into our monitoring and evaluation, which is one of I mean, on the technology side, I think where we may be a lot further advanced from a lot of different tree planters. I mean, we have a phenomenal team that's doing the monitoring evaluation. And so really, I can speak to that later not to get off topic, but But with that, really focusing on we want to generate very high quality carbon credits where there is traceability to say, okay, cool. You said that I planted trees in this sub County and Uganda, like, Great, yeah, do you want to see photos of the trees, here's the KML of where it is, here's the species list, here's the survival rate. And just like have that level of transparency, because that has been generally lacking and then St. And honestly, it is really hard to show that level of transparency and we invest so much in that side of things that other people don't, and they may be better tree planters than we are. But we just want to be very open to anyone that there's because there's just so many carbon projects out there that have failed or scam, you know, all that that were like, Hey, we're not cutting down forests and planting eucalyptus here. We are working with local communities, paying them out creating livelihoods, planting indigenous species, and really just holistically attack, attacking this whole problem in a way that's gonna be sustainable. So 10 years from now we look back and we're proud of everything we did. And our proof of, hey, we said we you know, we're our goal is to plant 100 50 million trees by 2026. And it's like, hey, that's like, we want to show on a map where all of those trees are. And that's part of our goal. So


Greg Irwin  27:40

I love the story, but I'm not following the numbers. So if you're, if point one credits is $20, and, and you're taking 70 cents, and the farmers are earning four cents a year, and then there's some value in the tree at the end of its life, in the form of charcoal. Missing just the the the model of where the $20 goes. Yeah, sorry.


Beau Milliken  28:08

So the $20 to be a credit, so let's call it $2 per tree. Okay, so that's so yeah, if we, if we call it $2 per tree, then that 70 cents would be planting costs, and then there's the payment to the farmers that a certain amount. And then yeah, and so with that, I mean, we were providing our technology to produce the charcoal for free. So we're bearing all those costs, and then just playing middleman and paying fair market value for that we're bearing a bunch of those costs to do this more efficiently. Because it's, I mean, you know, the market has proven out that it's cheaper to clear cut a forest produce charcoal and move on. And so we're bearing those additional costs to develop the technology, do trainings on that provide all like the data back end for that in order to prove that this is a sustainable process?


Greg Irwin  28:59

Wonderful. Great, great stuff I see. First Imran I know your hand went up. And then Michael, I thank you for your question. It was serendipity, your reference to Microsoft because that's where everyone's coming from here. Give a give a great one. I'm from Iran. And please jump in.


Guest Speaker 2  29:17

Thank you so much. My name is Imran I'm with Microsoft. I am in the Customer Success organization. I'm Director of Customer Success, and with global clients of Microsoft, and I have a parallel role of chief innovation officer in financial services, customer success. And then I have interest in accessibility, diversity and inclusiveness and sustainability and I love this conversation because it is basically tying all of those together because diversity and inclusiveness obviously also means taking care of people around the planet. Accessibility for those people with technology not just as getting a surface in everybody's hands but also making The benefits of technology like we're discussing here, available to people around the globe, coming myself from a previously, previously from Pakistan still a fairly developing nation. Sustainability obviously is such a wide topic I am, I'm probably point 1% of a percent in terms of expertise compared to everybody who's on this call. The reason he lowered by hand was, as soon as I had raised it, you happen to mention Microsoft, and it seemed too much like a scripted move. So


I planted him in the audience. Okay, got it. Yes. So,so I attend these not as next these calls and meetings and conferences I go to not as an expert, but as a student. We're always looking to learn and to understand more, but also to hopefully to ask some questions, that makes sense. And if they don't make sense, then either I'm on to something really big or something really stupid. And sometimes it's hard to tell. I love the you know, the fact that Greg was following the numbers, because that is an issue that comes up, both in the sense of proving the value and sustainable success of any sustainability initiative. But also in terms of getting funding, and also even to go into the people who you're trying to help. Who might be suspicious, you're giving me 70 cents, you must be making $99.23 or whatever, on the back end.


So that ties into the question I'm actually going to ask genetic, genetically modified stuff, is an area of concern for a lot of people, people want the benefits of it. But when you bring it up, everybody thinks it's a bad thing. What's the opportunity for the industry to look at genetically modified growth, speed of faster growing trees that also have better, let's say, output or likelihood of turning into charcoal or other forms of energy faster, etc? or have some higher percentage of carbon sort of storage? Any any work going on in that, besides just the fact that people are trying to grow things faster?


Hopefully, that question made sense.


Beau Milliken  32:13

Yeah, made sense. And it's, it's funny, I think I had a call three weeks ago, with a no scientist, scientist, last entrepreneur, out of Israel, who's been doing kind of using the CRISPR technology been modifying different crops, I think tomatoes have been one of the larger successes, but essentially, is walking me through the science side of that, because they are looking for people in the tree planting space that are interested in this. So I don't want to we as Kijani, we're not currently in that space, it's a very interesting idea where it's, you know, in that, you know, space, it's essentially it's the same tree, right, you're, he's modifying some part of it, that helps kind of skip one of the biological processes that kind of creates more biomass and growth and things like that. And so it's interesting, because it made this kind of touches on a broader point of discussion, argument, all these different things of in the tree planting space, that they're kind of the purest that are purely indigenous species. Don't do anything else, even if even if there's something that has existed in an area, but didn't 100 years ago, let's not plant that. And then there's kind of the far end of the spectrum, which is, hey, I just plant eucalyptus, they grow and they sequester carbon, and you're good, you know. And so I think in all of this discussion, this maybe isn't even on this spectrum, but is kind of like on a third dimension of, Okay, same genetics, technically, indigenous species modified, what are where's this going? And what does that look like down the road? And probably questions we can't answer for decades, decades. And so I'm by no means an expert in this, but it's a very interesting thought, you know, of hair that we have this technology. And it seems like there's like, only benefits to it. But what if these trees don't last longer? What if they produce different food that actually, even if you choose an indigenous species, maybe the food can harm the local ecosystem? conceptually?


Sorry, and I didn't mean to put you on the spot by like saying, What's your answer to that it was more something we all need to think about, especially with such a an august group of attendees and, and quite frankly, biology and chemistry were my least favourite subjects growing up. So it's ironic I'm in engineering in software and technology and have to be cognizant of those and the only thing if I might add just as food for thought for even a subsequent conversation, Greg and team would be the is also a great use case for two additional pieces of technology that I can think of when you want to prove the location of, you know, the trees have grown, for example, both satellite imagery, Microsoft as a planetary computer that we make large datasets available, worth looking into not something I'm selling just something to look at. And also IoT, right? The ability to have sensors in the ground, which can also sense salinity, and acidity and water levels, etc, etc. So that's something else that I think we there's a lot of convergence of convergences, as I call it happening. And I think we just need to all of us put our heads together, and steer all of them to get to these desired outcomes. So naturally, I wanted to say thank you.


Greg Irwin  35:46

Mom, thank you. Let's keep going here. My Michael, do me a favor pose your question with some context? Or maybe a little a little background? A little informal?


Guest Speaker 3  35:57

Yeah, sure. Thanks. And thanks, both for, for sharing what you guys are doing. I'm the principal at Kennedy consulting. And I've been doing climate and clean energy and environmental stuff for longer than I care to admit that at the, at the beginning of my career, one of the things I did dating myself now was work on verification protocols for the Kyoto Protocol that way back, right. And the issue that existed then and still exists, is the permanence of these offsets. And no, it's one of the real kind of, you know, sticking points for the community of climate analysts and activists, that don't care for offsets. Right, there's sort of a split. And I'm curious how you either price in the risk of the, you know, wildfire, or some other event, you know, maybe a human driven event to wipe out your stock? Is it priced in? Is there are there, you know, safety or whatever, you know, physical protection protocols, you have what, what do you what do you do with that, there's something I didn't put in the chat, which I'd also love you to address if you if you get a chance, and sorry to sorry to pile on here. But I know that charcoal is also a creator of black carbon, which has its its own GHG, emissivity issues that are different from carbon dioxide and other GHGs. So I'm wondering if you could, if you have some context there, you could provide about how you count for the black carbon coming out of the charcoal that that'd be cool. But I'm sorry, to start to double up on that question. Yeah,


Beau Milliken  37:54

yeah. Why don't I touch on the permanence? And I can chat on the back black carbon afterwards. So yeah, so the permanence is a very, very important question, right.


And I think it's a interesting thing with our model, because it is not, the basis of it is not that a tree is going to be there for forever, that it actually is going to be harvested. And so with that with the carbon credits, is that we are kind of, we're replacing other trees from being cut down. And so, but we're not claiming credits for any kind of red plus, on that side of things for what we're doing. Essentially, we're looking at an average sequestration over time. So if you look at this planting, trees growing, harvesting, essentially, the sequestration kind of curve is going to go something like this, right? And so yeah, let's we can drop down to like close to zero, basically, over every five years, we'll call it, but really, on average, you're at maybe 20 30%, of what this would be kind of peak in averages. And so the permanence question for us is, actually what is the average sequestration at any point in time, and the long term average there? So I mean, mathematically, you're taking the integral divided by the number of years and that's like, what we're claiming, as that versus what it would be a forest, you're like, great, you've sold 100% of the sequestration in this forest, oh, no, there's a fire, it's all gone. They're like, well shoot, we owe 100% These credits back because this was, you know, a risk factor.


And so with that, you know, kind of our approach to permanence is saying, the trees are not permanent, but the average sequestration is and with that, there is you know, we kind of believe them in elastic demand in terms of energy needs to cook fuel Woods within bird To cook their people's food and Uganda, and so if you're, you know, if charcoal is a third as much, people are not going to buy three times as much charcoal, you need X amount of charcoal to cook your food. Right? So kind of under that assumption, if we can follow that logic out that anything that we're producing into a sustainable charcoal, is that saving another tree. And actually more trees because of the technology we're using from being cut down somewhere else, kind of like in the Aetherium of Uganda forest somewhere, a tree didn't get cut down, because we were supplying that in the market.


So yeah, so I mean, so yeah, permanence is a very valid question. That's kind of how we approach that in terms of what we're doing and kind of the market approach that we're doing. On the black carbon side. I mean,


Guest Speaker 3  40:55

Before you answer on the black carbon question. So for other you kind of alluded to this for other tree planting, offset creating organizations, it sounds like what you're saying is that if the tree burns down, or is cut down or whatever, then that organization would owe the the balance of the credits that had claimed to create, but you're saying that you guys wouldn't, because you've only accounted for a certain percentage of the lifetime and its average sequestration rate? Is that basically, right?


Beau Milliken  41:26

Yeah. And so I forgot to talk to this. So there's also like, we're going to be going through Vera Savera has a buffer pool, that it keeps us Well, based on the risk factor of any project. So ours being amongst 10s of 1000s of households, like let's call it a 30% buffer, where they're like, Yeah, even if you're claiming this, like, this is what you're allowed to trade because of this risk factor. And maybe that goes down over time, but at least like, because there needs to maintain their reputation or rebuild it, depending on your perspective. But with that, saying, Hey, we we can't have a project go that far south. So we need to hold some amount of that. So and so that risk factor is done in this development aspect of this all. And so that is something that is, yeah, that that is something that as we are in this development, that there's going to be some figure that comes out of this risk factor assessment there. And so that would, so I haven't really spoken about this, but we're actually starting a restoration business division within Kijani, as well, where the goal there is to plant and maintain a permanent forest and regenerate kind of the local indigenous forest. So with that, in that approach, because it you know, what we're doing here is like we're slowing down deforestation. And then we also want to rebuild the forest. And so with that, kind of we are having to address those questions. And so with that we're designing in massive fire brakes and all of the money to maintain those and kind of doing the best that we can limit that risk factor. But if that did go completely south, then we would be like, those credits would then be deemed worthless. And it probably would come down to our agreement with offtakers. In that scenario.


Guest Speaker 3  43:12

Yeah, I think I heard you say something that maybe I didn't catch when you were first describing it and I apologize. And Greg, sorry for monopolizing time, you can shut me up.


Want me to stop?


Greg Irwin  43:25

Now? Keep going,


Guest Speaker 3  43:26

let's say you had said just now in your answer, you're you're avoiding deforestation elsewhere, because you're creating this better charcoal producing products. Are you actually monitoring other pharmacists, then if your premise is that your product slows the rate of deforestation in other areas? Because the charcoal demand will come from you guys instead or from other areas, then are you on the hook then for validating that claim?


Beau Milliken  43:55

No, because we're not claiming any credits for saving other forest, like, in theory is what's happening. But we're not trying to claim a bunch of red plus credits for saying We saved you know, 10 trees over here because we cut 10 trees over there. Because that is that's like, such a complex thing that we're not we're not getting into that side of things. So okay. Yeah. Yeah.


Greg Irwin  44:20

Good stuff. No, I love the back and forth and all encourage other folks. More questions, please send them in. I've got I've got one and then fell, I see yours. And then others come up. We got this. This is an amazing story with Beau’s doing here. Let's, let's take advantage, make sure we really understand. So please drop your questions in. But what if I'm part of a sustainability program? And I have a goal to drive, you know, a carbon footprint that's going to require a certain amount of oxygen. And I wanted to get involved with you and I heard your comments earlier that you were working for A search engine and I didn't quite catch the name. But it basically it's a one off partnership that they kicked you off, and they got you started. So my question is, alright, what if there's somebody here that wants to learn more, and say I could go out in the open market and buy credits, but maybe I can just call up, Beau. And I know exactly where the offsets going? How would something like that work? Do you have the capacity to be doing something like that?


Beau Milliken  45:30

Yeah, yeah, that's a great question. So I mean, I think, I think what we, I think in a perfect world, that we find a partner that truly cares about the communities that cares about the story, and can leverage that for their own corporation, right, because it's like, you can claim that zero, but if you claim that you are changing 10s, of 1000s of lives, and restoring force and doing all these other co benefits, like that actually brings a tonne of value to your company. And so, so right now, we're, you know, we haven't kind of gotten into any deals with corporations yet, that is something that we were looking to, you know, essentially get pre orders on carbon credits and figured out kind of what that would look like. But I think that there's so much value of in the earlier process of CO creating this to be like, hey, what's the story that, you know, let's just pick on Microsoft, Microsoft, you guys are, you know, wanting to be carbon negative for your entire company? Like, what does that look like? And how can that be beyond planting a eucalyptus forest? How can that actually be something that's transformative to these livelihoods? And you can claim the story of like, hey, we actually helped plant 10 million trees with these 10,000 households. And here's the impact. And yeah, beyond this carbon sequestered, we also achieve this goal. And we, you know, we're, we're projecting once these over a decade, that we're going to increase these household incomes by 450%. So, I mean, that's great for us as a company, but if that's something that on top of being carbon neutral, that the corporation can claim on top of that of like, hey, we partner to make this happen for 100,000 people all across East Africa, like, I think there's tons of value in that, that, you know,we're being that we're positive, you know, for making money.


We're not in this desperate spot. So we're, once we have this certification, that's kind of where we're next stop going to go look at these corporate partnerships to see if we can find the right corporate partner and that so, I mean, if anyone's got that


Greg Irwin  47:34

point, it sounds like it sounds like a maybe a maybe, or maybe even a yes,


Beau Milliken  47:38

yeah, definitely. So I mean, if anyone is interested in that, please do email me happy to have full on conversations. But yeah, that's kind of where we're at and where our


Greg Irwin  47:49

trajectory is. You reference expanding to Kenya. What's the bigger picture? Do you have the resource and real capability for this to go, you know, to go to what kind of scale or what's what's the ambition? Yeah,


Beau Milliken  48:05

I mean, so we, you know, we're not shying saying, by the end of the decade, we want to be the largest and most impactful tree planters in all of Africa. And so we're, that's kind of where our growth trajectory is placing us. And, yeah, me, I think that those are our ambitions. We're not exactly sure where I think Malawi is probably the third country that we're looking at. But we've gotten a lot of, we've gotten a lot of requests, I've lost count of how many but you know, 10s of countries that are like, have people that are like, we need this, can this be brought over? And so, yeah, so I mean, we're, you know, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, I'm always like, I want to have everything 100%, dialed and then we go do this, but we're just having like, there's such demand on expanding, you know, in these different areas. And, you know, like I've mentioned, fulfilling the timber market and the charcoal market and the fruit market, and we're not actively looking to make money on fruit, but it's like, we want to plant fruit trees with a bunch of people and create this food security. So, yes, I mean, we really are, we're trying to like, we want this to be one of the most impactful companies by the end of the decade, and also all of Africa. So existing small, small goals, they're, you know,


Greg Irwin  49:18

good, you got to think big. So, folks, if you want to do some follow up here with Bo, we're not agents for them. But I'd be happy to help make any any connections that y'all are interested in. And that goes across the board here. So anybody want to connect across this group? You let us know. But let's go back to Michael's comment. All right. Tell us a little bit about how you account for black carbon on GHGs.


Beau Milliken  49:44

Yeah, and just through my email in the chat, feel free to reach out even if you just want to say hi or anything like that. But yeah, I mean, it's so as of right now, we're not actively so I'm going to talk in where we want To be because we're, as our trades are not ready for harvesting, that we're not actively producing charcoal, we actually may enter into that into the Kenyan market because Kenya markets kind of has more biomass available and less room for planting trees. That's kind of a flipped from scenario from Uganda. So it might be something that we're doing in the near future, but, but with this, you know, generally right now, like there, there are a lot of like, as you're producing these, you know, this charcoal that there are a lot of gases that are given off, something that's really cool that we're trying to figure out on the technology side is that does gases at a certain temperature range, forgive I'm come from a chemical engineering background. So I get excited and nerd out about all this, but with that, within a certain temperature range that those off gases can be, as cold retorted, and put back into the fire and actually burned as an additional fuel source that can help, you know, make the process go quicker. So it's this really cool thing that, you know, kind of it's similar to a refinery in a smokestack. It's like actually burning that methane is better than letting that methane go into the atmosphere. And that's why these refineries can get carbon credits for just burning methane, which seems counterintuitive. But with methane being at 25 times more potent greenhouse gas it like, it makes sense, even if it looks weird. So in a similar way, we want to try to figure out with our kind of more rudimentary technology, is there a way that we can still have this accessible to the farmers out there and also retort this capture these gases, and monitoring what comes out at the end of it. So I'm trying to do like a kind of someone mentioned the internet of things, trying to work off like a Raspberry Pi and a GIS and learn in like a phone line to be auto connecting. So that's controlling and monitoring this kiln production so that we can get the most efficiency to lower lowest reduction or lowest emissions. And it's not going to be perfect. I mean, the process does admit, you know, greenhouse gases. But again, we're trying to like, what's the lesser evil, assuming charcoal is the solution that the world wants? How can we do this the best possible so?


Yeah, I mean, it's like, it's, it's funny, being somewhat of a charcoal company realizing we kind of wish that charcoal didn't have to be a thing. You know, like, that's not our goal is we're not here to promote charcoal, we want to promote sustainability and the charcoal industry and clean up the supply chain. But yeah, so it's kind of a funny company. But yeah, so


Greg Irwin  52:28

I've got one broader one. And then lat last shots here. Um, you know, if somebody wants to throw throw another question in, please do put put deforestation and tree growing in context of other carbon carbon improvement activities, because I think there's now a whole range from solar and carbon capture. And there's a lot how somebody is thinking through default, managing deforestation, as you're doing directly. How does that compare in terms of efficiency, efficiency of dollar efficiency of effort, versus investing in a solar utility farm or unit? Yeah. Yeah.


Beau Milliken  53:22

Man, what a big question. I'll do my best to address it, you know, so I think there's everything has everything should have a second purpose, right, like trees provides so much CO benefits beyond carbon sequestration, that it's hard to, like, compare that one to one to something else? I think it's, I hope, no one well, apologies if anyone here is directly involved in that director, carbon capture, project, but I think it's a quite a silly concept. And the economies of scale, never worked out never be a nature based solution that's well thought through. And also like, just to tackle the scale of problem that we're at. I mean, it's like, I think we listen to podcasts like they ran the numbers, just the fans to run a director carbon capture would use 30% of the world's energy usage, just to run the fans not even to do the entire process. So


I think that so much of the, you know, if two parts of the solution, there's actually the sequestration, which there are not a lot of great solutions, which is why director carbon capture is getting billions of dollars of investment, right? Because people are kind of, like, freaking out. That's like, even if we stopped today, we're not doing great. So with that, like that is why we've gotten to that and hopefully that improves and like, of all the hopes, and that being a part of the solution, you know, versus on the solar side, you're actually replacing more getting put into the atmosphere with like a two year payback period, right. So solar is becoming a lot more efficient and all these different things. So, so there's room for all these solutions, but you know, I think in terms of our model, we can out compete In a lot of these other places, while having tremendous co benefits that, you know, may not be the same in other projects, but also everyone needs to do all of the projects, we need all of the solutions. So it's not like everyone pivot into what Kijani Forestry is doing is like, I mean, we need, you know, 100 of our companies out there. But also, like, we have to do everything in terms of looking at this as a holistic, because it's not just a, you know, it's right. It's an energy problem. It's a supply chain problem. It's all these different things. And so deforestation is really part of it, that we're seeing the market demand for these different products and trying to fill that in. And that also has carbon sequestration benefits to it that can help accelerate this whole thing. So yeah, so I don't know if that was anything, you know, but


Greg Irwin  55:51

it plays a role. But I'm here in freezer, the an incredibly efficient form of carbon capture. Particularly compared to something that we've come up with so far. I'm going to wrap us up here about a fantastic session here, I want to thank you for taking time and introducing us to what you're doing. And Kijani. It's really exciting. Folks, as you see if we can help connect, please let us do that. I want to encourage you all, follow us on LinkedIn, you know, sign up for our tracker at sustainable, etc. And we'll continue these sessions, you know, over the course of the year. With that, I'm going to wrap it up. Beau, Thank you very much. And thank you all for taking some time sharing some good questions, and just learning on something when groups doing. Very exciting that thank you very much.


Beau Milliken  56:49

Thanks, Greg. And thanks, everyone. Appreciate all the questions and your time. Thank you. Thanks, everybody.

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