An Interview with Harry Hely-Hutchinson, Co-Founder & CEO at Reforestation Company: Selva

Selva estimates your carbon footprint, by you and your staff taking part in a short quiz to assess your carbon emissions. They then connect you with the most reliable, affordable, and effective forestry projects around the world to plant trees on your behalf. We are currently planting over 5,000 trees per month on behalf of individuals and businesses.

We are the tree experts; we know where to plant trees to make the biggest impact. Many of our trees are mangrove trees planted around Madagascar as Mangrove forests absorb four times as much CO2 than other types of forest. Our reforestation partners ensure the longevity of the trees through rigorous monitoring and tracking, sustainable forestry best practices, and using drones and other technology.

Most importantly though, long-term impact is ensured by establishing the right long-term financial and social incentives for the communities on the ground that plant and protect the trees.
Welcome to the Selva | Selva

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

The idea for Selva was born out of a personal desire to do more to contribute to the climate challenge. I was recycling, I massively cut down my meat intake and tried to generally consume less but I still felt like I wasn’t doing enough – particularly as I was aware of all the emissions I was still responsible for from traveling, heating my home, electricity use etc. There had to be more that I could do.

Drawing on my experience advising oil & gas companies about their low carbon strategy, where I learnt about the power and affordability of reforestation as a unique tool for CO2 removal, I set about researching how I could contribute to reforestation projects on a personal level to make a bigger impact and offset the rest of my emissions that were hard to cut out of my lifestyle. I found a handful of amazing organisations and began sending them donations so they could plant trees on my behalf.

The biggest surprise was how affordable it was: I discovered that I could plant enough trees to offset my personal carbon footprint for only ~£5 per month – less than the cost of a pint of beer in London!

Selva was then created to make the process of understanding and offsetting your emissions easy for anyone else who wanted to do more but didn’t know what to do, who to trust, or thought action would be too inconvenient or expensive.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

Selva is currently an entirely remote company, and this has only been made possible by the normalisation of remote work thanks to the pandemic. Our team is spread across London, Barcelona and Lisbon, and the new remote work era has enabled us to hire from a much larger talent pool from all over the world than if we were confined to just one city.

What can we hope to see from Selva in the future?

Our long-term vision is to become the global champion and first household name brand for reforestation. We passionately believe in the power of trees to not only make a huge contribution to global warming but also to biodiversity protection and local communities.

To catalyse mass responsible reforestation, we eventually want to integrate tree planting across all aspects of daily life. Imagine having your personal tree count embedded in your social media profiles, and automatically planting a tree every time you buy a coffee. We envisage a world where people count their trees like followers and likes.

In the nearer term, we plan to use technology such as frequent satellite imagery, drones and GPS to get our users closer to their trees. Combining satellite imagery with AI can also help us get additional verification about the quantities of CO2 that our trees are absorbing.

But the first step is all about education and awareness. Through down-to-earth and optimistic messaging, we want to explain how anyone can get involved and take real, transparent, and affordable climate action. We won’t preach or guilt trip, but instead, we’re building a brand that young people can relate to – our goal is to do what Brewdog has done to craft beer and what has done to plant-based meat.