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3. Validation - Initial project check

What is validation?

There are two stages to 3rd party audits of WCC projects which are undertaken by a body accredited by the UK Accreditation Service:

  • Validation is the initial evaluation of a project or group against the requirements of the Woodland Carbon Code.
  • Verification is the ongoing evaluation of the project against the requirements of the Woodland Carbon Code.  Verification will asses the carbon sequestration that has actually occurred as well as continuing management to the UK Forestry Standard. Find out more.

At validation the validation body will check that statements about predicted carbon sequestration are materially correct, with a reasonable level of assurance.

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Preparing for Validation

You should complete Project Design Document.  You should refer to further guidance on the Woodland Carbon Code when completing your PDD.

There are two template Project Design Documents:

Your Project Design Document will contain:

  • Eligibility Details
  • Governance or management (including management plan, managing risks, monitoring, making claims about carbon)
  • Carbon sequestration anticipated (including the baseline, any emissions outside the project as well as the carbon sequestration anticipated by the project) 
  • Environmental Quality (including Environmental Impact Assessment or other evidence of impacts and benefits)
  • Social Responsibility (including stakeholder consultation)

You will also need to submit additional supporting evidence to the certification body.  This is specified in the Code and in the Project Design Document.  If a project is also receiving woodland grants, then existing documentation can be used to support the project design document. 

Other help and advice

There are a number of places that you can get help and advice in the creation of your design plan.  The main ones are listed below.

Woodland Grants

Forestry Commission, Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Forest Service give advice on applying for a woodland grant, creating your management plan, carrying out consultations with stakeholders and carrying out Environmental Impact Assessments.  In some cases you can claim a grant to pay someone to help you through this process:

Whilst it is fine for projects wishing to be certified to the Code to also have a woodland creation or management grant, certain conditions need to be met.  See the Guidance on Additionality for more information. 

Sustainable forest management - UK Forestry Standard and other guidance
The UK Forestry Standard (including the elements of Biodiversity, Climate Change, Historic Environment, Landscape, People, Soil and Water) sets out the requirements for the sustainable management of all forests and woodlands in the UK.

Further guidance on creating and managing woodland is available in Forestry Commission publications such as the UK Forestry Standard and supporting Guidelines, Practice Guides, Technical Guides and Forest Research publications. 

Who can validate my project?

The two bodies below are accredited by the UK Accreditation Service to validate Woodland Carbon Code projects.

Acoura (formerly SFQC)

Acoura logo

Contact: Jane Ellis / Tel: 0131 335 6632

Soil Association Certification

Soil Association certification logo

Contact:  Andy Grundy / Tel: 0117 914 2435

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Getting your project or group validated

There are a number of steps involved:

  • You need to have registered your project and completed your Project Design Document.
  • The Project/Group Manager should then contact one of the accredited validation bodies to arrange for a project/group validation.
  • The Project/Group manager will then submit all relevant documentation (the Single/Group Project Design Document and additional evidence as detailed in the Code/PDD) to the validation body.
  • Host field audit(s) if required. In general, where an approved Forestry Commission, WAG or Forest Service woodland creation grant is in place which involved field assessments, a field visit will not be required for validation. Where there is no grant aid but there is sufficient evidence from a Forestry Commission or other independent site visit/audit, then a field visit by the validation body will not be required. If there is insufficient evidence from these sources, the validation body will conduct a site visit. For groups, the number and selection of projects to be sampled will be determined using a risk-based approach.
  • For a group, the validation body will also audit the Group Manager to assess their group documentation, control systems and management processes.
  • The validation body will assess the project/group, and may suggest some corrective actions. These should be addressed within one month (except in exceptional circumstances) before the project/group can be validated.
  • If validation is successful, the validation body will issue a Validation Statement and confirm the status of the project/group to the Project Developer/Group Manager and the Forestry Commission. They will also provide final documentation (final PDD, map, carbon calculation) to the Forestry Commission and the project developer or group manager. The statement will be valid for 5 years from the project start date.

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What next?

  • The project developer/ group manager should then login to Markit and update the registry fields if necessary and submit the project/group as 'Validated/Active' in the Registry.
  • The project developer will also need to upload either a 'communications agreement' (to show the landowner is happy for the project developer to represent them in the registry) or a 'proof of right' (to show the project developer owns the rights to the carbon) to confirm that they have the right to list the project's carbon units in their account. (If the Markit account holder is the landowner then neither document is required). Contact environmental@markit.com or climatechange@forestry.gov.uk for a template documents.
  • The validation body will then upload the final PDD, Carbon Calculations, Map and your Validation Statement.
  • You will receive an email from Markit confirming the updated status of your project in the registry.
  • Markit will setup Pending Issuance Units to represent all the predicted carbon sequestration of your project. You will be invoiced 6 pence per unit and upon payment the units will become active in your account.  See Registry Details.
  • If you've made any sales you need to transfer them to the account of the carbon buyer or assign them to a buyer.

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Last updated: 5th August 2017