Forestry Commission logo
NEWS RELEASE No: 161915 MARCH 2014

UK woodland carbon goes on sale for first time

This news story is now over a year old and information may no longer be accurate or up-to-date. It might also contain obsolete links.
Please use our search link on the left to look for more recent information.
View over Wendover woods

The first units of carbon dioxide set to be sequestered, or removed from the atmosphere, by woodlands validated under the UK’s Woodland Carbon Code have been notified for sale for the first time as National Climate Week gets under way.

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. The Woodland Carbon Code was a finalist in the Climate Week Awards 2014 category ‘Best Initiative from Government or Public Services’.

Now, businesses seeking to compensate for their greenhouse gas emissions can buy ‘Pending Issuance Units’ (PIUs) from the woodland project owners. PIUs represent ‘promises to deliver’ Woodland Carbon Units in the future once the trees have grown and the carbon sequestration has been verified.

Once verified, PIUs can be converted into WCUs and used to report against emissions. Verified WCUs will begin to come on stream when the longest-established WCC-certified woodlands are verified in 2016.

Dr Vicky West, climate analyst with the Forestry Commission, which administers the Woodland Carbon Code, explained,

"PIUs represent units of woodland carbon to be sequestered in the future, and can only be used to report against emissions after they have been verified. 

"However, buying them now allows companies to plan their compensation for future emissions while helping to tackle climate change and contributing a wide range of other environmental and social benefits."

The PIUs for sale are listed on the Markit Registry, and Kathy Benini, managing director at Markit, said:

"The listing for sale of the first Pending Issuance Units on the Markit Registry is an important and exciting step forward for all participants. We look forward to it adding momentum to the creation of a transparent and efficient market for credits in the innovative Woodland Carbon Code programme.

"It has been a privilege to work with the Forestry Commission to establish this important initiative for tackling climate change through woodland planting." 

Further information about the Woodland Carbon Code is available from, and about the Markit Registry at

  • National Climate Week (March 3 – 9)  works to raise awareness of climate change, its effects, and what people can do to mitigate and adapt to its impacts. See
  • Information about the work being done to ensure that British woodland will be resilient to and can help to mitigate climate change, as well as help society adapt to it, is available from

Notes to Editor:

  1. CO2 is the most common of the greenhouse gases causing the atmospheric warming which is changing Earth’s climate. Growing trees sequester, or absorb, CO2 and use carbon atoms to form wood while emitting oxygen back into the atmosphere.

  2. From April 2013, UK-quoted companies have been required to report their gross CO2 emissions. Under the UK Government’s Environmental Reporting Guidelines, all companies have an opportunity to report WCUs created through carbon sequestration in WCC-verified woodland creation projects to help compensate for their gross emissions. Companies can establish woodlands on their own land, or buy the rights to the carbon sequestered in woodlands established by others.

  3. Carbon sequestered by WCC-validated woodlands is measured and recorded using a robust carbon-accounting system.

  4. CO2 sequestered by WCC-verified woodlands in the UK are tradable. Details of all WCC projects are held on the Markit Registry, (enabling changes of ownership of each tonne to be tracked. The registry records when credits are listed, and when they have been “used” by a company in its carbon account. Although it is not a trading platform, the registry also provides an introductory mechanism for bringing together buyers and sellers of woodland carbon units.

  5. 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 at

  6. A total of 63 woodland projects have been validated under the WCC, covering 2500 hectares and projected to sequester 1.15 million tonnes of CO2, comprising 0.3m tonnes in England, 0.8m tonnes in Scotland and 0.05m tonnes in Wales. No projects have yet been validated in Northern Ireland. Projects can only be validated under the code if they meet its rigorous requirements for sound forest management, sustainability and carbon ‘accounting’. Project proposals are audited by independent certification companies approved by the UK Accreditation Service.

  7. Once registered, a proposal is audited against the standards required by the Code, and if it satisfies the requirements it is ‘validated’. Validation provides evidence of the quality of the proposal, not only in carbon terms, but also in sustainable forest management terms, and is critical for attracting investors.

  8. When companies ‘use’ verified units of CO2, for example, in an annual environmental report or in claims of carbon neutrality, this is recorded in the registry by moving the units to their ‘retired’ (or used) account.

  9. Woodland established under the Code must attain high standards of forest management in line with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) and its associated Climate Change Guidelines for Forestry. The UKFS sets out the government vision of sustainable forest management, and 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.

  10. The Markit Registry provides infrastructure to the global carbon, water and biodiversity markets, enabling participants to track environmental projects, and issue, transact and retire serialised environmental credits. It lists more than 150 million environmental credits across 21 market-based standards and programmes for users in nearly 80 countries.

  11. 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.

  12. Media contact: Stuart Burgess, 0117 372 1073