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A buyers' guide to Woodland Carbon Units

Why buy Woodland Carbon Units?

Buy carbon units from a Woodland Carbon Code project and your company can:

  • Make a real contribution to tackling climate change
  • Report Woodland Carbon Units against its emissions
  • Choose projects which provide enhanced social and environmental benefits

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What are Woodland Carbon Units?

The Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) is the standard for woodland creation projects in the UK which generate verifiable Woodland Carbon Units (WCUs). These are measurable amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) removed from the atmosphere by the growing trees. Backed by government, forest industry and carbon market experts, the Code is unique in providing woodland carbon right here in the UK. Buying carbon from these projects brings many benefits in addition to carbon sequestration.

A Woodland Carbon Unit (WCU) is a tonne of CO2 which has been sequestered in a WCC-certified woodland. It has been independently verified, is guaranteed to be there, and can be used to report against emissions as soon as it is purchased.

A Pending Issuance Unit (PIU) is effectively a ‘promise to deliver’ a Woodland Carbon Unit during a given period, based on predicted growth. It is not ‘guaranteed’, and cannot be used to report against emissions until verified. However, it allows companies to plan to compensate for future emissions.

Every 10 years, projects are checked and, if performing well, verified. At that point the PIUs are converted to WCUs.  PIUs are available now from a growing number of projects, and the first WCUs will be available in 2016.

The average global price of woodland carbon in January 2014 was £6/tCO2, although there was wide variation around this figure, depending on the nature of the project.  See ‘State of the Forest Carbon Market’ reports

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Benefits to your business

WCC projects create real and verifiable carbon units which can be bought and used by businesses wishing to reduce their impact on the global climate and cost-effectively compensate for their emissions.

As a business manager, you will only want to buy units from carbon-capture projects if you feel confident that the woodlands will be well managed and really will capture the CO2 claimed. Verification against the Woodland Carbon Code meets this need by providing the evidence. You can also be reassured that you can track the purchase, ownership and use of credits on a highly respected registry.

Funding a WCC woodland can also help your business to meet other corporate responsibility objectives and enhance its reputation. Woodlands can

  • improve air quality
  • provide wildlife habitat
  • provide timber and woodfuel
  • provide sites for public recreation
  • provide opportunities for community engagement and staff volunteering, education and development
  • in the right places, they can reduce flooding and improve water quality

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How do I find out more

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Who else has bought PIUs?

A number of well known companies have already bought PIUs in WCC-certified projects, including:

  • Marks and Spencer
  • The Green Investment Bank
  • BWOC
  • Thorlux Lighting
  • Mears Group
  • Stagecoach

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Case Study - BWOC

Fuel distributor BWOC has helped to create four new woodlands in England and Scotland which will capture more than 20,000 tonnes of CO2 over the decades to come. One of these, Cranborne, is BWOC’s first foray into productive forestry. It will be managed on a “continuous-cover” basis, using natural regeneration and selective harvesting to ensure that tree cover is always maintained, comprising trees of all ages.

Mark Wayne, Managing Director, is particularly excited by this aspect of the project: “I loved the idea of contributing to the creation of a woodland which can ensure its own permanence through the sustainable extraction of timber, and also the fact that most of the timber extracted would still be locking up carbon in wood products."

BWOC tanker

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Case Study - Thorlux lighting

When manufacturing firm Thorlux Lighting decided to find a way of compensating for some of the unavoidable emissions arising from its production process, it went one step further than buying carbon units. It bought land at Cwm Fagor in Wales and created almost 30 hectares of native woodland.
It now owns a resource which will sequester more than 15,000 tCO2 over the next 100 years. The new woodland will also produce quality timber, link up valuable wildlife habitats and add to the network of local footpaths.

View at Cwm Fagor

Mike Allcock, Managing Director, said:

“It’s particularly pleasing that this woodland will be contributing towards a number of climate change targets. The scheme demonstrates that we recognise the carbon emissions from Thorlux Lighting and the FW Thorpe Group, and it will also help the Welsh Government’s target to increase the area of woodland.

“Our manufacturing processes will always produce emissions, and these can be calculated. We also help our customers minimise their emissions by selling extremely efficient lighting and electronic control systems, but a small amount of energy use is inevitable. By opening our scheme to our customers we are enabling them to purchase tree plantings to compensate for the emissions they generate by using our products.

“Contributing to our woodland offers them the chance to do the right thing in partnership with a company committed to the environment. We hope, too, that the added credibility of government recognition will further encourage customers to join our environmental initiative.”

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