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Have you seen the videos of those crazy tents suspended in trees? We have, and we think they’re crazy awesome. Tentsile a young and innovative company creating portable tree houses. Tents are suspended between three trees to keep you off the ground while camping, backpacking, and traveling. The cool factor for these things is off the charts. We had the opportunity to chat with Tentsile and get a look on the inside of this (literally) tree hugging company. With an emphasis on the value of tree, this company is giving back to the forests while empowering people to spend more time in them.
Trek Tech: How and why was Tentsile founded?
Tentsile: Tentsile was founded in 2010. Our Tree Tents were originally conceived as portable treehouses that you could take with you anywhere. Our unique designs were created to fit between three trees, and to keep you suspended off the lumpy and uneven ground for a dry, cozy, comfortable night’s sleep.
Alex Shirley-Smith began making prototypes of the Tentsile Tree Tent in 2010. The prototypes we larger, heavier and more expensive to produce. Over 10 different models were made before we settled on the Tentsile Stingray, and then we moved into production.
Tentsile was built around a love for trees and the Great Outdoors. We respect the environment, and seek to protect and conserve it, so that future generations may enjoy it as much as we do. In partnership with WeForest and The Eden Projects, we plant 3 trees for each tent sold, and in doing so have helped to restore deforested regions of Ethiopia, Zambia and Madagascar. So far we have supported the planting of over 46 000 trees.
TT: How can using a Tentsile product benefit the places we travel on?
TS: When attaching your Tentsile Tree Tent to the trees, you avoid damaging the flora and fauna on the ground below. Using our tents on your travels has a lower impact on the natural environment in which you are camping.
We are proud partners of Leave No Trace Centre for Outdoor Ethics, and encourage all of our customers to follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles when travelling, to ensure minimal impact on the environment.
TT: Does using a Tentsile product harm the trees they are tensioned off of?
TS: No, our tents do not harm the trees when used correctly. We have many guidelines highlighting the correct use of our tents and the best practice for minimal impact on the trees, which can be found on our website and Youtube channel.
In March 2017, we will be releasing our new No Trace Kit, which aims to give additional protection to trees to minimize any potential damage.
TT: In what ways is Tentsile aiding environmental sustainability efforts?
TS: Tentsile is committed to protecting the environment and preserving / regenerating the World’s forests. In addition to our tree planting programs outlined above, we also work with local environmental initiatives who are protecting / conserving woodland and wildlife around the world. For example, we work with ARC Amazon, based in the Peruvian Rainforest, whose dedicated team of biologists and scientists, along with the help of volunteers, are studying the local wildlife and ecosystems, whilst also protecting this small area from deforestation by illegal logging.
Another example; we supported Stephen Belcher, a European wildlife expert, who was doing research into the rarely seen & extremely endangered, Javan Rhino. Using our tents, Stephen managed to sleep right in the middle of the Rainforest and get the first ever HD footage and images of the Javan Rhino in its natural environment.
We post regular updates from partner organizations in our blog and newsletter, so that customers can follow their progress. In doing so, we hope to engage our followers in an open dialogue about the environment and climate change.
TT: In what ways is Tentsile aiding social responsibility efforts?
TS: We have partnered with several organizations in the past few years to support their humanitarian efforts. We tend to work with projects who are in need of gear to help them navigate across difficult terrain – for example, in areas where there has been a natural disaster. In 2016 we partnered with Adventurers for Change, who travelled through Nepal to distribute emergency aid and solar lighting to rural villages that were affected by the earthquake the previous year. We donated 11 tents so that their team of volunteers could reach the most remote and isolated regions, close to the epicenter of the earthquake.
TT: What types of trees do you plant, are they native to the area?
TS: The projects we support work from Forest Management Plans based on best practice forestry. The objective is to work towards the mature native forest or woodland, that would occur naturally in the landscape. This relies therefore on the use of native tree species. Seeds are often collected from existing forest areas and propagated in community and home based tree-nurseries. Once established saplings are planted out into the areas under management.
Trees are selected for different purposes. Pioneer species may provide shade for other species to follow. Some species have leaves which are used as animal fodder. Others are leguminous, meaning they help enrich the soil through nitrogen fixation. Species selection, positioning, density and their contribution to ecological integrity and livelihood improvement of the local people is a complex process.
Another forest restoration method is to work with what nature already provides. There may be a high density of new seedlings within the forest. Crowded together, competing for light and water, not all will survive. Using techniques of assisted natural regeneration, these seedlings are transplanted to the periphery of the forest where they have better access to light and the forest area expands.
In Zambia’s copperbelt for example, we work with WeForest to supports farmers to restore the native Miombo woodlands that are disappearing from the region. By employing assisted natural regeneration of Miombo woodlots (plots of native woodland on farms) and introducing activities such as bioenergy and honey production, that rely on healthy standing woodlands, local communities develop new income streams lifting them out of poverty whilst restoring their forests. Some of the species in use in this project can be found here.
TT: What makes working for Tentsile worthwhile?
TS: It’s exciting to be part of a company that is genuinely passionate about the environment, and better still, doing something about it. At Tentsile, we are not just about tents. Instead, we hope to inspire people to spend time amongst nature, to embrace the wilderness and wander off the beaten track, and above all to protect and conserve the Great Outdoors. To know that you are empowering people to do that – that’s what makes it worthwhile.
TT: What are some of your employee’s favorite places to use a Tentsile?
TS: They include the Redwoods, East Africa, & the forests of Romania!
TT: Can you describe some of your goals and projects for 2017?
TS: We have just revealed our New Year’s Resolution – to get 1,000,000 people in the trees in the next 5 years! We want people to join our global community and be a part of the Tentsile Tribe, so we invite them to ‘#BecomeOneOfTheMillion’. To meet our objective, we’ll need to make sure there are lots of healthy forests too, so we’re aiming to plant 1,000 000 trees in collaboration with our partners and a network of Outdoor Brands.
We’re continuing to develop our online Tentsile Community – a space for Tree Tent experts and novices alike to share tips, secret camping locations and more.
We will be launching the world’s first Tentsile Eco Experience Camp in Finland later this year, and have a number of other similar sites in the pipeline too.
Tentsile will be popping up at several Festivals throughout the year, including Euphoria Festival in Austin Texas (April), where we’ll be setting up an entire Tree Tent Village.
TT: Are there any other organizations you’re partnering with that the consumer can get on board with?
TS: We partner with many Brands who share a passion for innovation and smart design – for example, Oru Kayak, LuminAid Solar Light, Biolite, Cotopaxi, and Goal Zero to name but a few.
TT: In your efforts to increase a tree’s value, non monetarily, have you been able to see a change in society’s value towards them?
TS: We are beginning to – certainly within the Tentsile Tribe! Feedback from our followers suggests that they really value and support our tree planting efforts and are excited to discover a product that helps them spend more time amongst the trees, with a smaller eco-footprint than ever before. But there’s still a long way to go; until we’ve replanted the World’s lost forests, and stopped illegal logging for good – we will not rest!
Note: We get to keep most of the gear that we test out. While this is a perk, we try hard to give everything an unbiased review no matter what.
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