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Creating new woodlands to help combat climate change has been made easier with the launch of a Woodland Carbon Code group validation scheme.
The code is a voluntary United Kingdom standard which helps to ensure that ‘carbon forestry’ projects deliver real and lasting carbon benefits.
Now open to new applicants, the group scheme allows several tree-planting projects to be validated together, thereby making possible potentially significant cost savings. The scheme aims to make it possible for many more people who want to plant trees to demonstrate that they’re compensating for their greenhouse gas emissions, while creating valuable new habitats for biodiversity.
Until now, validation under the code has been open only to individual woodland projects, but following a successful pilot involving four groups of projects, group validation is now available to all. Dr Vicky West, a climate change analyst with the Forestry Commission, which administers the carbon code, explained,
“We recognise that the cost of gaining validation against the Woodland Carbon Code might be a limiting factor for some potential applicants, especially those wishing to create small woodlands. That’s why we’ve introduced this new group scheme to enable the managers of a number of small tree-planting projects to apply for validation as a group, enabling cost sharing and potentially significant savings.
“We hope that the new group scheme will help landowners in the UK with smaller areas of newly planted woodland be able to validate their significant carbon benefits as well as all the many social, economic and environmental opportunities they can provide.”
Owners of Woodland Carbon Code-validated projects may sell the reporting rights to carbon locked up by their woodlands to corporate buyers to enable them to compensate for their unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions.
They may also quote their unique Woodland Carbon Code ID, and use the code logo, to reassure stakeholders that their investment really will achieve the carbon benefits they claim. They can also be sure that the woodlands will be responsibly and sustainably managed in accordance with the UK Forestry Standard and its associated Climate Change Guidelines.
Further information is available from www.forestry.gov.uk/carboncode, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or from local Forestry Commission woodland creation officers, commercial woodland agents, or carbon companies.
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- Information about the Woodland Carbon Code will be available, and representatives will be on site to answer questions and give advice, at farming and rural events this year including: Beef Expo, 23 May; North Sheep, 5 June; Sheep South West, 11 June; the Royal Highland Show, 20-23 June; the Livestock Event, 3-4 July; and the CLA Game Fair, 19-21 July.
- Groups of woodland planting projects require a group scheme manager, and can be brought together by a number of means. They could, for example, all be owned by the same owner, be managed by the same woodland management company or agent, be in the same local area, or be brought together by a local authority or environmental charity.
- Projects can only be validated if they meet the Code’s rigorous requirements for sound forest management, sustainability and carbon ‘accounting’. It uses independent certification companies approved by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) to audit project proposals. Validated projects must subsequently be ‘verified’ at least every 10 years to check that targets are being met.
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most common of the greenhouse gases causing the atmospheric warming which is changing Earth’s climate. Growing trees sequester CO2 from the atmosphere, and use carbon atoms to form wood while emitting oxygen back to the atmosphere.
- The UK Forestry Standard sets out the government vision of sustainable forest management. It is the ‘yardstick’ used by all four governments in the UK when assessing applications for forestry grants, tree felling licences and approvals of forest design plans.
- About 13 per cent of the UK’s land area is covered by woodland, which is more than double the woodland cover of 100 years ago. The European Union average is 37 per cent.
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