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Investment in woodland creation projects that capture carbon is set to undergo a substantial boost in Scotland – with the formal launch of the UK Woodland Carbon Code.
Launched today (27 July) following a successful pilot phase, the code sets a new standard for carbon-capture planting schemes.
As well as confirming the green credentials of woodland carbon projects, it will benefit investors by ensuring that projects deliver real and sustainable carbon benefits.
All woodland creation projects that are verified as meeting the Code’s criteria will be able to use the official Woodland Carbon Code label.
Environment and Climate Change Minister, Stewart Stevenson, said:
“The Scottish Government is committed to expanding woodland cover in Scotland but we are to do this in a balanced way taking into account competing demand for land.
“Woodland expansion is important as trees capture CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow, storing the carbon as wood and organic matter while also releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere.
“So investment in woodland creation projects is an ideal and cost effective way for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and improve their environmental reputation. It is also a great opportunity for landowners and managers to access new sources of investment funding in support of tree planting.
“The launch of the Woodland Carbon Code offers, for the first time, a verification scheme that will ensure that carbon capture schemes that involve planting trees do exactly what they claim.
“Offering this kind of assurance to business investors will help attract more funding for the generation of new woods and forests for everyone’s benefit.”
Under the Code project developers must register with the Forestry Commission, stating the exact location and long-term objectives of their project. Once approved, projects will then appear in a national online register.
To comply with the Code projects must:
• be responsibly and sustainably managed to national standards;
• use set methods for estimating the carbon that will be captured;
• be independently verified; and
• meet transparent criteria and standards
Scotland’s woodlands soak up around one fifth of our annual emissions of greenhouse gases but with increased planting, have the potential to soak up even more and further help mitigate climate change.
The independent Read Report stated that woodland creation provides, ‘highly cost effective and achievable abatement of greenhouse gas emissions’.
Notes to Editors
1. The Woodland Carbon Code sets out good practice requirements, in terms of sustainable forest management (based on the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard) and carbon finance (where key requirements include additionality and permanence). It uses rigorous and consistent forest carbon measurement protocols to measure carbon uptake in woodlands. New carbon lookup tables and a carbon assessment protocol have been developed by the Commission’s Forest Research agency. The code also establishes a system of independent carbon certification by organisations accredited for this purpose by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS). Schemes that meet the requirements will be able to use a Woodland Carbon Code label.
2. The Woodland Carbon Code makes a distinction between 'carbon offsets' that can be traded on international carbon markets and voluntary 'carbon reduction actions' taking place in the UK. This is because, in common with most Annex 1 (developed) countries, accounting rules and the complexities of 'Kyoto rules' prevent tradable carbon offsets from being generated in the UK.
3. In addition, Defra has today issued new guidance on how organisations should report greenhouse gas removals and emissions from UK woodland planting where a project meets the requirements of the Woodland Carbon Code.
4. More information on how organisations should report their greenhouse gas emissions and removals, including those from UK woodland creation is available at: www.defra.gov.uk/environment/economy/business-efficiency/reporting/