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Two new moves announced today are expected to attract significant new investment into UK tree planting projects designed to help combat climate change.
Planting new forests and woodland helps counteract the greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas. As trees grow they capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store the carbon as wood and organic matter, whilst releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere.
Commercial interest in investing in tree planting for carbon capture in this way is increasing but until now there have been neither standards against which to measure the carbon capture claims nor a mechanism to report the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
A new Woodland Carbon Code, launched today by the Forestry Commission, provides a consistent national approach as well as clarity and transparency to potential investors about just what their money should buy them.
In addition, Defra has today issued new government 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.
In Wales, the Code will directly support delivery of the Welsh Government's Climate Change strategy by potentially attracting additional private finance to help achieve the Government's aspiration to increase woodland cover in Wales from 14% to 19% over the next 20 years.
Forestry Commission Wales National Committee Chairman Jon Owen Jones welcomed the moves.
He said, "Many companies and organisations are interested in woodland creation projects not only to help reduce their carbon footprint but also because of the wider benefits from planting trees which can improve their environmental reputation. For smart organisations it’s a 'win win' situation.
“The Code now gives us a better chance of attracting some of the significant funding available from these organisations to help create new woods and forests in Wales for everyone’s benefit.”
To comply with the Code, woodland projects must be responsibly and sustainably managed to national standards, use set methods for estimating the carbon that will be captured, be independently certified and meet transparent criteria and standards.
Project providers must register with the Forestry Commission, stating the exact location and long-term objectives of their projects. Once approved, projects will appear in a national online register.
The UK's woodland absorbs about 2 per cent of our annual emissions of greenhouse gases, but with increased planting, they have the potential to soak up much more and further help to mitigate climate change.
The independent Read Report, commissioned by the Forestry Commission to examine the potential of the UK's forests to mitigate and adapt to our changing climate, concluded that woodland creation provided a highly cost effective and achievable means of abating greenhouse gas emissions.
More information on the Woodland Carbon Code is available at www.forestry.gov.uk/carboncode.
More information on how organisations should report their greenhouse gas emissions and removals, including those from UK woodland creation, is at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/economy/business-efficiency/reporting/
Notes to Editors
1. 2011 is International Year of Forests.
2. 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 look-up 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 requirements will be able to use a Woodland Carbon Code label. (‘Additionality’ refers to the requirement to demonstrate that a project could not take place without the carbon funding; in other words, it is additional to woodland planting that would have happened anyway.)
3. The Woodland Carbon Code makes a distinction between 'carbon offsets' that can be traded on international carbon markets and 'carbon reduction actions' taking place in the UK. This is because, in common with most Annex 1 (developed) countries, accounting procedures and the complexities of 'Kyoto rules' prevent tradable carbon offsets from being generated in the UK.
4. The Woodland Carbon Code logo is a Registered Trade Mark.
5. Guidance on the ways in which organisations should measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions is available on the Defra website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/economy/business-efficiency/reporting/
6. Organisations wanting to report emissions and removals associated with woodland creation should use the Defra guidance in conjunction with the Woodland Carbon Code. This should ensure that organizations that report on domestic woodland creation projects in future will do so on a consistent basis. Annex G of the Defra Guidance already covers international offsets.
4. Media enquiries to Forestry Commission Wales press officer Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email firstname.lastname@example.org