Woodland Carbon Code one year on - July 2012

The Woodland Carbon Code, a voluntary UK standard which ensures that ‘carbon forestry’ projects really do deliver the carbon benefits they claim, passed its first anniversary on 27th July 2012, having chalked up an impressive number of achievements.

Opportunities to undertake carbon-storing tree-planting projects are being sought by increasing numbers of people and organisations to help tackle climate change. Certification under the Code ensures that projects meet stringent national requirements for sustainable woodland management and carbon accounting.

Achievements during the Code’s first year of operation include:

• 63 projects were registered under the Code, and the amount of carbon dioxide predicted to be removed from the atmosphere has passed 1 million tonnes;

• 17 projects have been independently validated, meaning that the carbon sequestration claims and other aspects of the project have been checked and confirmed by auditors;

• the total area of new woodland created is more than 2,800 hectares (7,000 acres);

• code-certified woodlands have been planted in all three countries of Great Britain. Two have been verified in England, 14 in Scotland and 1 in Wales; and

• a scheme to allow groups of woodland projects to come together for certification is being piloted to make the process more cost effective for smaller projects. Five pilot groups have confirmed their participation in the pilot, which will run until early 2013.

Buccleuch Estates Ltd is involved in the pilot scheme, and Jim Colchester, its forestry manager, said,

"Along with our partners at Forest Carbon Ltd, we’re pleased to be involved in piloting a group scheme for the Woodland Carbon Code.

"Having our tree planting projects certified under the Code means we can be certain that the investment will create valuable new woodland habitats, provide a future source of timber, and deliver a lasting legacy that will benefit our climate for many years to come."

Pam Warhurst, Chair of the Forestry Commission, welcomed news of the Code’s anniversary, adding,

"This is excellent progress in such a short time, and I congratulate all those involved, from the landowners who are making land available for tree planting, to the people and organisations who are investing in the projects.

"Trees, woods and forests provide all of us with a wide range of benefits, and amongst them carbon sequestration is especially important.

"I look forward to the Woodland Carbon Code going from strength to strength in boosting development of the green economy and efforts to provide much-needed new woodland by giving confidence to investors that the projects they invest in will deliver real and verifiable carbon benefits."

Dr Pat Snowdon, Head of Economics for the Forestry Commission, pointed to the potential for investment in woodland carbon projects in the UK. He explained,

"Investing in woodland creation provides companies and individuals with a tangible way to demonstrate how they are reducing their carbon footprint. From April next year UK quoted companies will be required to report their gross carbon dioxide emissions. Under the Government’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Guidelines, all companies have the opportunity to report the benefit of their investment in carbon sequestration through Woodland Carbon Code-certified projects.

"Meanwhile we’re creating tools and guidelines to help make the process as easy and practicable as possible."

Further information is available at www.forestry.gov.uk/carboncode.

Forest Carbon and the Code

Forest Carbon was pleased to be the first company in the UK to have a woodland valdiated under the new Woodland Carbon Code. Since that time we have had a further 15 validated, and continue to work through our portfolio of projects to gain accrediation for all of them.

We are also working closely with the Forestry Commission on the development and trialling of a group certification scheme which would allow small woodlands - where the costs of accreditation may outweigh the value of the carbon credits generated - to meet the requirements of the Code in a cost effective manner.