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5. Verification - Ongoing check of carbon sequestered

What is verification?

There are two stages to 3rd party audits of WCC projects which are undertaken by a body accredited by the UK Accreditation Service:

  • Validation is the initial evaluation of the project against the requirements of the Woodland Carbon Code more.
  • Verification is the ongoing evaluation of the project against the requirements of the Woodland Carbon Code. Verification will assess the carbon sequestration that has actually occurred as well as continuing management to the UK Forestry Standard

In both cases, the validation and verification body will check that statements about predicted or actual carbon sequestration are materially correct, with a reasonable level of assurance.

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When do I verify?

The verification due-date is indicated on the first validation statement. The first verification shall be held:

  • Projects with start dates July 2011 or later: 5 years after project start date
  • Projects with start dates prior to July 2011: 5 years after validation

The second verification will occur 15 years after the start date for all projects.

Subsequent verifications will occur as a minimum every 10 years (ie in years 25, 35, 45, 55, 65, 75, 85, 95, 100) during the project duration.

If there are extenuating circumstances for a delay, the project should seek the approval of the Forestry Commission and Markit. If approval is granted, a Verification Extension Approval shall be uploaded to the UK Woodland Carbon Registry.

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Who can verify my project?

Acoura is accredited by the UK Accreditation Service to validate Woodland Carbon Code projects and are currently extending the scope of their accreditation to include verification.  Soil Association are working through the accreditation process by demonstrating their verification skills. Both companies can verify WCC projects.

Acoura (formerly SFQC)

Acoura logo

Contact: Jane Ellis / Tel: 0131 335 6632

Soil Association Certification

Soil Association certification logo

Contact:  Andy Grundy / Tel: 0117 914 2435

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Getting your project verified

There are a number of steps involved in getting your project verified:

  • Contact a verification body to initiate the verification process 12 months before the verification due-date
  • Carry out or contract a third party to carry out monitoring at the site in accordance with monitoring guidance
  • Prepare a Project Progress Report (a ‘mini-PDD-update’ to summarise continuing compliance with the standard) and Data Collection and Calculation Sheet (to outline monitoring process and results). Templates are available.
  • Submit your Project Progress Report and Data Collection and Calculation Sheet to the verification body between 6 and 12 months before the verification due-date
  • The verification body will always visit the site at the year 5 verification but will do so on a risk-based approach for subsequent verifications. Monitoring carried out by an independent third party could be less likely to require a field visit. Only a sample of projects within a group would be visited
  • Complete any Corrective Actions as specified by the verification body within 1 month if minor/ 12 months if more involved. Corrective Actions will be required if establishment and/or tree growth and carbon sequestration rates do not meet predictions
  • Submit proof that Corrective Actions have been completed. This could be eg invoices or photographic evidence. A further site visit will not be required.  In some instances, where it is going to take longer than 12 months to carry out corrective actions (eg where ongoing deer management is a requirement, or where there are difficulties obtaining suitable stock from nurseries) then the project can be verified ‘subject to Corrective Actions being completed’. 
  • The verification body shall provide a Verification Statement to the project manager and the Forestry Commission which will be valid for 10 years.  Where a statement is issued subject to corrective actions being completed, the verification body will check that the corrective actions are completed within the planned timescale.  Where corrective actions are not completed, the verification body will decide on a case by case basis whether further action or re-issuance of the verification statement is necessary.
  • The verification process must then be repeated in 10 years.

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What Next?

  • You will need to upload your Project Progress Report, Monitoring Report and Verification Statement to the UK Woodland Carbon Registry and check project details are still correct in the registry.
  • Pending Issuance Units which have been verified will then be converted into verified Woodland Carbon Units at a cost of 3 pence per unit converted.  Any Pending Issuance Units not delivered will be cancelled.  If the project has sequestered more than the number of Pending Issuance Units issued, the project developer will receive extra verified Woodland Carbon Units. See Registry Rules of Use.

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Future Developments

The only accepted method for future verifications (from year 15 onwards) is using the Carbon Assessment Protocol.  We are also investigating alternative methods of assessing the carbon stock of WCC projects (eg using satellite instruments, airborne lidar, drone instrumentation or other technologies).  If these prove cost effective in future, further guidance will be issued.

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Last updated: 11th July 2016