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Watch: Meet the British furniture farmers fighting deforestation

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Watch: Meet the British furniture farmers fighting deforestation
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Reuters
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From a two-acre field in the Midlands area of central England, these "furniture farmers" are fighting deforestation, one chair at a time.

In a sustainable alternative to the carbon-heavy process of cutting down mature trees to make furniture, guiding shoots and grafting branches allows these chairs to grow fully formed – a practice used by the Ancient Romans.

Gavin and Alice Munro's first crop was trampled by cows and eaten by rabbits, but progress has been steady since then and the couple is currently growing 250 chairs, 100 lamps and 50 tables on their farm in Derbyshire.

Gavin explained the process: "Force-growing a tree for 50 years and then cutting it down and making it into smaller and smaller bits that can only ever come unstuck once you've glued them back together again, seems like an absolute waste.

"So the idea is to grow the tree into the shape that you want directly as it grows, graft it together and then you have one solid piece. It's a kind of zen 3D printing."

A chair from their company, Full Grown, costs €11,275 (£10,000) while lamps go up to €2,600 (£2,300) and tables sell for between €2,800 and €14,000 (£2,500-£12,500).

But there is a wait to factor in as well as the cost – an average chair will take six to nine years to grow, and another year to dry out. The company currently has a commission for 2030; a retirement gift planned well in advance.

According to the UN, the world lost more than 26 million hectares of trees – an area the size of Britain – each year from 2014-2018. Gavin believes his company is playing its part in counteracting this.

He said: "You know the damage that we do with forestry, we're only just starting to really understand that. This is kind of the opposite, we use ancient techniques that we used in the Stone Age."

The company's medium-term goal is to create a fully-grown dining set, which Gavin says could be ready in around a decade.