Angela has known, grown and loved the Empress Tree for 20 years. She owns her own Empress Tree farm and is on the board of the American Paulownia Association.
Director of Marketing
Madhu has over 30 years’ experience in design, marketing, communications and technology. He has been responsible for all of World Tree Technologies’ marketing for the last four years including the website.
Director of Forestry
William has extensive experience running large agroforestry, reforestation and agriculture projects in Africa, the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean. He has managed over 275,000 hectares of mixed class landholdings.
Meet the Empress Splendor, the fastest growing hardwood tree in the world. She’s a natural beauty (non-GMO), a real fighter (fire resistant and grows back after harvest), and a good neighbor (replenishes soil and non-invasive). To top it off, she eats massive amounts of carbon using a super-powerful form of photosynthesis.
The Empress has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for its astonishing growth rate. The picture below shows a new startling, a 6-month old Empress and a mature tree.
The rapid growth of the tree is visible in its growth rings. See how a 35 year old fir tree (left) compares to a 5 year old Empress!
Save the Earth: Offset Your Carbon Footprint
At World Tree, we’re planting Empresses in North and Latin America. Every $3,000 raised is another acre planted. That’s up to 90 tons of carbon being absorbed per acre every year, more than the annual carbon footprint of a family of four.
We have already planted nearly 2,000 acres with over 100 farmers, thanks to the support of our investors. The farmers receive the trees at no cost and World Tree trains the farmers on how to grow and care for trees. We use select Empress tree varieties chosen for their rapid growth, premium timber and non-invasive qualities.
Our USA farmers are able to plant in various parts of the Southeast (see map below). The tree will perform well even in soils that have been depleted and have become useless for food crops. The nitrogen rich leaves drop to the ground and provide a natural fertilizer that restores the soil.
In Latin America we are planting in countries including Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico. Planting new trees is a big deal for these farmers and our goal is to help to reduce poverty and provide economic resilience for them.
The trees intercrop well with other plants such as coffee, cacao and plantains and provide much-needed shade to increase yields in these companion plants.
Quality Hardwood in 10 years
Not only is the Empress good for the planet, she also makes for beautiful blonde, straight-grained hardwood when she matures in 10 years. Light as balsa, strong as pine, and water resistant, some people call the wood the "aluminum of lumber" due to its high strength-to-weight ratio.
The wood can be used for furniture, window blinds, veneers, musical instruments and surfboards. Architects have begun using it in green buildings as a finishing wood due to its high insulating qualities.
The Tree that Keeps on Giving
When the tree is cut down it grows another tree right from the stump, making it a self-renewing source of eco-timber that will last for generations.
Projected Return on Investment
Returns will depend on the volume and quality of lumber produced. In practice, we can expect to see variation in our farms, producing a mix of low, medium and high grade lumber.
This graph shows the potential return on a $3,000 investment based on tree survival assuming that half the lumber harvested is medium grade, and the rest is a mix of low and high grade.
In 10 years time, even if only 10% of the trees survived, your returns would be approximately $4,744 at current market prices. We are targeting at least 75% survival, which could produce investor returns of $35,000 or more.
These numbers include all the costs of managing the plantations and harvesting the lumber. However they are only projections and cannot be guaranteed.
Taking care of our investment
Since tree survival is such a key factor, we have designed our business model to maximize diversity and spread risks by planting trees in many different locations across 5 countries. This means that if we lose a farm (due to weather or other events) it shouldn't have a significant impact on the overall return for each investor.
Our team visits the farms at least once per year and calls the farmers at least twice per year to review the health of the trees. Additionally, our farmer support team has a dedicated staff to answer emails and calls from farmers.
What's all the buzz about?
There is one more thing we would love to share with you. Bees love Empress trees!
Empress trees produce beautiful flowers in the spring that have a vanilla-jasmine scent. The flowers are nectar-rich, support pollinators and will increase the productivity of companion crops. Bees can produce 100 jars of honey from a single acre of trees.
What does your company do?
The Empress Splendor is the fastest growing hardwood tree in the world. For every $3,000 you invest, our farmers will plant an acre of these beauties across North and Central America. Then, in 10 years when these trees mature, they'll be harvested for lumber and we'll be sharing the profits with our farmers and investors like you. The United Nations predicts that demand for timber will double by 2050. With our carbon-eating, non-invasive Empress Splendors, we're ready to meet those needs.
Where will your company be in 5 years?
Over the next 5 years, World Tree intends to plant 3.5 million trees, producing over $3 billion of marketable lumber. Not to mention, the priceless value of offsetting millions of tons of carbon every year. It's our goal to prove that you can make a profit and save the world at the same time!
Why did you choose this idea?
Mother Earth is calling us to take action to reverse global warming. Planting trees is one of the most effective ways we can do this.
What's new about what you are doing? How is it different?
World Tree is fighting climate change by planting trees for the purposes of timber production and carbon sequestration.
The Empress Splendor tree is the fastest growing hardwood tree in the world. Reaching maturity in approximately 10 years, it produces a valuable lumber that is strong, lightweight and water resistant.
World Tree has 2,000 acres of trees already planted in North and Latin America.
We are seeking investors to help us accelerate our impact. We are running out of time to reverse climate change. We are looking for investors who want to use their investment dollars to make a big difference now.
In the process we are revitalizing the soil, creating new livelihoods for farmers and creating a sustainable source of lumber for generations to come.
How big is the market?
Demand for timber is rising, supply is decreasing.
The world population is consuming timber on an unprecedented scale. The average North American consumes the equivalent of a 100-foot tree every year and the United Nations forecasts that world demand for wood will double by 2050.
At the same time, the supply of lumber is decreasing. Trees generally take a long time to grow and we are cutting them down faster than we can grow them.
We are solving this problem by growing a super-high growth rate tree that produces hardwood lumber in about 10 years.
How will you make money?
For every $3,000 USD invested in the program we plant one acre of trees with our network of farmers in North and Central America. We work directly with farmers, providing the trees for free to them as well as training, expertise and on-site support.
In approximately 10 years, the trees are harvested and sold for their lumber and the income is shared between farmers, the investor and World Tree. The farmers provide their land and labor and receive a 50% share. Investors receive a 25% share.
What's your biggest risk? What keeps you up at night?
Mother Nature! We are growing trees for the purposes of timber production. Like all crops, the trees may be damaged or destroyed by severe weather and/or disease. We reduce these risks by planting the trees in diverse locations in Canada, USA, Costa Rica and Guatemala.
We have over 100 farmers we work with and we are not dependent on any individual farmer for success. The trees do not currently have any aggressive or unusual pests and they are moderately fire retardant.
Is the tree invasive?
No, the tree is not invasive. There are 23 different species of Empress tree (genus Paulownia). The most commonly known species, the tomentosa, is listed as invasive. However none of the other 22 varieties are invasive, and in fact they play nicely with other plants. We have 18 proprietary genotypes that we work with, none of which are invasive.
How are you making the world a better place?
We are a climate-focused business that is tackling the problem of carbon drawdown.
We all have a carbon footprint - driving our cars, using our phones and computers, travelling by plane, even the food we eat is produced from fossil fuel power. To reverse global warming we need to not only reduce our carbon output, we need to drawdown carbon from the atmosphere.
Trees are one of the best ways to reduce carbon. Trees use carbon to grow, and in the process emit oxygen. The fast growth rate of the Empress tree means it needs a lot of carbon. One acre of trees will offset the carbon footprint of four people.
In addition, we are regenerating the soil and protecting our forests.
We are supporting farmers, giving them new sources of revenue.
What is the market for the lumber?
Empress trees produce a hardwood lumber that is blonde, straight-grained and smooth to the touch. It is almost as light as balsa, yet it is as strong as pine and is highly water resistant. It is used for furniture, musical instruments, veneers, surfboards, sailboats and other marine applications.
Empress lumber (Paulownia) currently retails for between $3 and $14 a board foot, although on our recent review of the market we were unable to find quality lumber for under $7.
The lumber is not well known or widely available in North America and we are currently developing the market. Currently the biggest markets are in China and Japan. Empress wood has been used in the Orient for over 800 years and the symbol of the tree is on the Japanese Prime Ministers' seal.
What gives you an advantage?
We have already been running the Eco-Tree Program in Canada and the USA for four years, bringing in collectively $4 million of investment and planting over 2,000 acres of trees.
Our founder and CEO has over 20 years experience with the Empress tree, from tissue all the way through to timber.
We have 18 proprietary genotypes that have a long track record in excellent timber production. We have an easily scaleable business model.
We already have over 100 farmers that we are working with and have developed in-depth growers guides and materials in English and Spanish.
We are a truly green, impact focused company.
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