- What should be monitored?
- Monitoring Plan
- Carbon: What and when to monitor
- Who can undertake the assessment?
- What is the Carbon Assessment Protocol?
- Future Developments
Regular Monitoring of each project shall take place to ensure that woodland establishment is successful and that tree growth rates are consistent with the predictions of project carbon sequestration. This will alert project managers to any actions required if establishment or growth are not progressing as expected. Projects shall undertake a regular survey to determine the actual amount of carbon stored within the trees (roots, stems, branches and foliage) in a woodland.
Projects should also be monitored to ensure that all requirements of the UK Forestry Standard and the supporting Guidelines are being adhered to.
Each project shall have a monitoring plan in place before the project begins. Monitoring will enable the project to quantify and document the progress of carbon sequestration as well as ensure that the project is being managed to the UK Forestry Standard.
The monitoring plan shall contain details of how tree stocking density and carbon stocks will be assessed throughout the duration of the project, and outline how the Carbon Assessment Protocol will be applied. The details shall include;
- How the carbon stock will be assessed (by the Carbon Assessment Protocol or other method)
- The frequency of monitoring
- The sampling frequency (ie the number of plots)
- Who will undertake the monitoring (project member or contract)
- How the data will be reported and quality assured.
The monitoring plan shall also set out what monitoring is being undertaken to ensure that the project remains managed to the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard and the supporting Guidelines.
Direct measurement of the trees in a woodland is not really useful until the trees are established. Verification of all woodland carbon projects shall first take place within 5 years of validation and thereafter at periods of 10 years or less. An assessment of the carbon stock is necessary each time the verification process takes place, in order to be sure how much carbon has been sequestered to that date and to enable a more precise estimate of the future carbon sequestration of that project.
Prior to First Verification (5 years after Validation)
Monitoring of carbon stock shall first be undertaken no more than 12 months prior to the date the first verification is due. This will involve assessing tree stocking density through counts of the seedlings and saplings present. Projects should follow either:
- Protocols for seedlings and saplings in the Carbon Assessment Protocol
- Forestry Commission’s Operational Guidance Booklet 4: Planting Density: Right first time
Prior to subsequent verifications at no more than 10 year intervals
From year 15 onwards, more detailed surveys of established trees will be required, involving the collection of mensuration data. Approved methodologies currently available for mensuration surveys are outlined in the Carbon Assessment Protocol.
Where parties to a project intend to report the carbon sequestered in the woodland:
Monitoring shall be undertaken following the Carbon Assessment Protocol(s) A to E at least once every 10 years and no more than 12 months prior to each verification event.
If no parties to a project intend to report the carbon sequestered in the woodland:
Less intensive methods of monitoring may be possible on some occasions. We will develop protocols for such monitoring during 2012-2013. However, monitoring following the Carbon Assessment Protocol(s) A-E shall be undertaken by all projects at least once by year 35, and at the end of the project duration.
Monitoring: The Future
Future developments in remote sensing techniques may replace the requirement to undertake plot based assessments. Appropriate methods for carbon related woodland assessments shall be set out in the WCC Carbon Assessment Protocol and kept under review.
Any stocking assessment or carbon assessment shall be undertaken by an independent individual or company with demonstrable competence in undertaking woodland assessments. The results should be professionally written up and available to the certification body.
5 Methods to estimate Volume: The Protocol details 5 different methods of measuring the volume of timber (and therefore mass of carbon) in a woodland. It also helps you to decide which method should be used for a particular woodland or situation:
- Method A: Accurate. Involves felling sample trees. May not always be possible
- Method B: Broadleaves
- Method C: Conifers
- Method D: Dense and Dark stands. Where measuring tree height is problematic
- Method E: Small woodlands (less than 1.25ha)
How to measure carbon: For each method the protocol takes the user through a number of steps to enable the final calculation of whole-tree carbon estimates:
- Deciding upon the method to use
- Defining the area to be assessed
- Dividing the woodland into 'similar' areas (stratifying your woodland)
- Deriving a tree stem volume estimate
- Deciding what size and how many plots to assess
- What to measure (diameter, height etc)
- How to record measurements
- Estimating a whole tree volume
- Adding in estimates for the volume of foliage
- Adding in estimates for the volume of roots and stump
- Converting the volume estimates to Carbon Dioxide equivalents
The science behind the protocol: The methods of calculating the tree stem volume are detailed further in the Forest Mensuration Handbook. The methods of estimating the mass of carbon from the tree volume are given in The Carbon Content of Trees and other Forestry Commission publications such as Forests, Carbon and Climate Change: the UK contribution
Survey reports detailing the outcome of fieldwork using the Carbon Assessment Protocol should be submitted at each verification to the certification body. Projects must be verified by an independent certification body 5 years after validation and then at least every 10 years in order to maintain certification.
In addition, any evidence or results of survey work showing that the project is being managed in accordance with the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard and the supporting Guidelines should also be made available at the time of verification. More on Verification.
- We will develop further carbon assessment methods for projects who are not intending to report carbon sequestered during 2012-13
- We will develop a soil carbon assessment protocol during 2012-2013
- We will develop the verification process further during 2012-2013