When I arrived at Forres Train Station for my first visit to Findhorn, the Foundation bus was a welcome sight and I stepped on board with a sense of excitement. Now, three years later, I delight in being an occasional bus driver and carrying a precious cargo of guests feels an even greater responsibility than driving a car.
The three Foundation buses, fondly named Sheena, ROC and Sir George after friends of our co-founders, provide a regular shuttle service during the week between our two sites, The Park, Findhorn and Cluny Hill, Forres. On Saturday mornings there is also a service to the train station for guests arriving and departing. These are contributing factors to the Findhorn Ecovillage having recorded the lowest-ever ecological footprint for any community in the industrialised world.
Ecological footprinting is a tool to measure the consumption of resources and the creation of wastes, and is increasingly relevant in the world today where energy efficiency and sustainability are critical in our efforts to combat climate change. A study issued in 2007 showed that the travel ecological footprint for residents of the Findhorn Community is 0.37 global hectares per person.
A comparison between the travel undertaken by Community residents and travel undertaken per capita in Scotland shows that car travel is far lower for the Findhorn Community – only 6% of the average car travel per person in Scotland. Train travel is seven times higher for Findhorn Community residents than the Scottish average. Many people living here cycle or car pool, however there is also the need for a local taxi service.
Forres taxi operator David Macpherson, who has run a taxi business for five years, decided to give his business a green boost in late 2010 by investing in a state of the art hybrid Honda Civic, which runs on electricity as well as petrol. The car is able to recharge itself whilst being driven and has no need to be plugged into a power source.
Alongside purchasing the first such car to be operated by a taxi firm in the area, David also decided to make a difference to the environment by supporting the Findhorn-based conservation charity Trees for Life. This is the only organisation specifically dedicated to restoring the Caledonian Forest. David’s firm, Mac’s Eco Taxi, makes a donation to the award-winning charity for every journey that picks up or drops off at the Findhorn Ecovillage.
The scheme has already notched up more than £150, which David presented to Trees for Life recently. The green-minded taxi operator also has plans to fund a grove of trees through the charity. “I’d noticed Trees for Life’s vehicles and office on many trips to Findhorn, but it was buying the charity’s calendar with its stunning photographs of the Caledonian Forest that really inspired me,” David said. “Our customers know that we are being doubly carbon conscious – with low emissions from our car and with donations supporting the reforestation of the Highlands.”
Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s executive director, said, “This is an excellent project that is good news for the climate as well as Scotland’s biodiversity and wild landscapes. Simple yet positive schemes like this make a big difference to our work. Every £5 allows us to plant a tree, and every £50 enables us to restore 50 square metres of native woodland.”
Since planting its first trees in 1991, Trees for Life has planted over one million trees. People can support the restoration of the Caledonian Forest by funding dedicated trees and groves, while the charity’s Conservation Holiday Weeks allow people to gain practical conservation experience in beautiful locations.
People are becoming increasingly aware of making responsible choices and the Findhorn Foundation offers a range of programmes in conscious living and sustainable lifestyles. Even when long distance travel is involved, we can choose to lower our carbon footprint and explore the travel options available.