Additionality and Permanence
Woodlands created to capture carbon must follow a set of principles enshrined in the Kyoto Protocol. Assurance that your carbon credits will deliver real environmental benefit comes only from strict adherence to those principles. The main two are 'additionality' and 'permanence'.
The most important principle of all is that you are able to demonstrate that, without the intervention of the carbon credit buyer, the carbon reduction or carbon capture activity could not have gone ahead. In the case of our woodland projects this means we can show that without the intervention of Forest Carbon and its partners the trees wouldn't be there.
The question of whether or not a proposed project can go ahead without carbon investment is tested stringently under the Woodland Carbon Code, which looks at financial barriers, legal barriers and behavioural barriers.
If one chilly morning you make a 'green' decision to wear more woollies and turn off the heating then the CO2 emissions you've just avoided have been avoided forever. The official Kyoto term for this is 'permanently avoided'.
With carbon woodlands the CO2 is not 'permanently avoided'. Instead, it is 'permanently locked up' - in the wood and soil of a forest that ultimately settles into a state of dynamic equilibrium around a long term average carbon store. As 'permanent reservoirs' the trees are (1) self-regenerating and managed to ensure the permanent presence of the right number of trees on the site; (2) replanted if lost for any reason - this is a requirement under UK law, where woodland creation is presumed to be a permanent land use change, and also written into our contracts with landowners. Lastly, the Woodland Carbon Code's extremely conservative carbon calculation methodology provides a generous safety margin that mitigates against potential set-back such as slower-than-expected growth or disease.