BrewDog Lost Forest Project An Epic Failure

, BrewDog Lost Forest Project An Epic Failure

(James Watt & Martin Dickie in happier times: Courtesy BrewDog)

The hits just keep coming for the global craft brewer, BrewDog, and its attempt to “save the planet.”

Here’s the deal…

Last week news broke that James Watt, a controversial figure who founded BrewDog along with Martin Dickie, was stepping away from his CEO position after nearly 17 years as the voice and vision of the now global company.

The official word from the company on this succession is that it has been in the works since last year. Watt will remain on the BrewDog PLC board and retain his title of “captain and co-founder.’ He also remains a major shareholder in the company he built.

Yet many beer industry watchers question if the sometimes brash Watt had worn out his welcome after years of generating controversies that sometimes helped reinforce the company’s punk ethos in a positive way, other times not.

Founded in a garage in 2007, BrewDog has grown into an international operation that exports to 60 countries and runs more than 100 bars around the world. And over the years BrewDog has espoused  that business should have a positive impact on the world, that the planet was at a tipping point, and just being ‘carbon neutral  no longer enough.

In a 2020 announcement, that came with all the bombast that BrewDog is famous for, the Scotland-headquartered global craft brewer declared that all of its breweries would become carbon neutral over the next two years.

, BrewDog Lost Forest Project An Epic FailureAs part of the company’s £30m climate action program BrewDog has purchased 2,050 acres of Scottish Highlands just north of Loch Lomond, to create the BrewDog Lost Forest.

The vision was to plant one million trees on that land over the next few years.

BrewDog also announced plans to create a sustainable campsite on the land, which would host sustainability retreats and workshops for the general public, in addition to inviting its 130,000 Equity Punks investors to help with tree planting in early 2021.

“Our carbon. Our problem… So, we are going to fix it ourselves” James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog said at the time.

“The scientific consensus is clear: Unless the world confronts the urgent carbon problem, science tells us that the results will be catastrophic. There has been too much bullshit for too long.”

“Governments have proved completely inept in the face of this crisis. The change our world and society needs, has to come from progressive business and we want to play our role and nail our colors to the mast.”

In 2022 BrewDog submitted a proposal to plant thousands of trees within the Cairngorms National Park, in an attempt to restore the area’s ‘Lost Forest’ that would soak up carbon.

In June 2022  Scottish Forestry agency awarded BrewDog up to £1,229,496 over a 6 year-period to erect a forest fence and dig up a large portion of the National Park to plant trees.

According to the Drinks Business,  BrewDog even released a film promoting its efforts claiming  the forest would be “capable of sequestering up to 550,000 tons of CO2 each year,” telling consumers that for every pack of BrewDog beer sold, “we plant a tree in the BrewDog Lost Forest.”

But in April park staff at the National Park discovered that BrewDog’s Lost Forest had suffered a catastrophic loss estimated to be at least 92,436 trees, that more than half of the pine saplings and almost all the fledgling oak trees, had perished.

Watt cited “an incredibly hot and dry summer” followed by “a harsh winter, where savage gales and sweeping frosts hammered the Scottish Highlands” for the disastrous outcome, but seemed to reup his commitment to the cause…

“Standing up to climate change can be an incredibly daunting task and it would be all too easy to disengage,” Watt said in a statement, “to decide to leave it to others and even to deride the efforts of those who choose to fight.”

But now with Watt stepping away as the head of BrewDog, one has to wonder about the future of BrewDog’s ambitious Lost Forest project.

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