Raleigh tree service owner vows to stop cutting down trees to save the planet

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Imagine taking over a business and growing it into a $5,000,000 a year operation.

Now imagine making a decision that could cut that business by at least 30 percent.

That's what Basil Camu did with his Raleigh tree service company, Leaf & Limb.

"As I was learning about trees, I was also learning about planetary health issues," Camu said. "And I began to learn that trees can solve so many of those issues."

He took over the company from his father 10 years ago.

He said the only thing he knew about trees then was how to cut them down.

Now, he said he has learned a lot since he became a certified arborist or, as he calls himself, a treecologist.

Some of his research involved findings by NASA. that examine the possibility that tree planting could help save our planet from the dire issues facing it like the loss of underground water and air pollution.

His knowledge of trees moved him to make a monumental and potentially fateful decision late last year: Leaf & Limb will no longer cut down trees.

It meant an almost immediate loss of business that could mean a drastic reduction in revenue.

"Somewhere between one third and one half. It's hard to say, but roughly $1.5 to $2 million," Camu said.

Now, Leaf & Limb will care for your trees, but they will not fell them.

Camu said as CEO of Leaf & Limb, he wanted his 45 employees to weigh in and they unanimously decided to make the move.

"Everybody here at Leaf & Limb, we all care about trees because we all understand how crucial they are to the health of our planet," Camu said. "So everybody here is willing to take that risk for the greater good."

He said, for the most part, his customers have had positive reactions, and his workers are striving to bring more business and are closing more deals to make up for loss of tree cutting income.
"We're hoping to fill that gap with doing the services that we want to be doing--taking care of trees, educating others about their importance, that sort of thing."

A section of the company's website is focused not on sales but education.

He said he won't know if his company will fill the tree-cutting gap until later this year. In the meantime, he's glad he made the decision to stop cutting trees.

"It feels good to have purpose," Camu said. "That's what we have here at Leaf & Limb. We believe that trees are essential to help our planet. So, it's difficult. It's uncertain. But it feels amazing."

Camu said he realizes he is just one small business making a statement on behalf of the entire planet.

And he realizes if his gambit goes south he may have to downsize.

But the one thing he says he will never do--cut down another tree.
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