An average home produces four tonnes of CO2 a year from central heating, hot water systems and other energy-using appliances. Four trees absorb about one tonne of CO2 a year.
Bellamy explained the concept to 12 housebuilders this week at a meeting in Leatherhead, Surrey, and Countryside, Persimmon and Sunley have shown interest.
Full details of the project have yet to be fleshed out but it is expected that trees planted by housebuilders as landscaping, or under planning gain agreements, would count towards the scheme. If housebuilders were unable to plant the 16 trees required for each house, they could contribute to tree-planting schemes in the UK or overseas.
The money could go to protect an area of tropical rainforest or to plant bamboo to create habitats for pandas
Environmentalist David Bellamy
Bellamy said: "The money could go to protect an area of tropical rainforest or to plant bamboo to create habitats for pandas."
Under the scheme housebuilders would be required to contribute £50 towards tree planting for each house they built, but this could be offset against the benefits from a publicity and marketing campaign that would include a dedicated website where homebuyers could learn about tree-planting programmes. This campaign would be co-ordinated by Phoenix, a public relations consultant based in Leatherhead.
Greenhouse Project co-ordinator Charles Smith said the project required a tree fund from 50,000 homes, about a third of the UK's annual output, to be viable. He added that if it could win that level of support, the project could be up and running in two months.