As a woodland grows and re-seeds itself it feeds on CO2, turning it into wood and oxygen. Some of that trapped carbon sneaks back into the atmosphere from the old dying trees, but on balance a permanent woodland traps a considerable net amount of CO2. Our schemes are mostly based on permanent native woodlands, but even if you were to use that wood for furniture or roof trusses, the original trapped CO2 would remain locked in forever, and of course new trees would grow in the place of those removed that would capture even more CO2.
The amount of CO2 that any given woodland ‘sequesters’ and ‘sinks’ in this way can be measured scientifically. Likewise, the amount of CO2 produced by industry and households can be calculated. Using both estimates it’s possible to design a woodland creation scheme for an organization that wants to compensate the environment for its unavoidable emissions using the pollution-cleansing power of trees.
Voluntary action of this type is commendible but one cannot use it as a ticket for lax or irresponsible behaviour. We only ever design woodland schemes for businesses who come to us with pre-existing carbon management plans, or who are in the process of developing one. Partners need to be working on reducing their emissions before they 'offset' the remainder.Additional benefits of forestry
Our partners opt for this natural solution knowing that carbon woodlands are also rich in fringe benefits, e.g. biodiversity, social recreation, soil and water protection amongst them. The method may be slow but it is sound and permanent and it causes none of the collateral damage associated with other ‘renewables’. More forests are needed across the world, not least in Britain whose tree cover is a mere 12% compared with mainland Europe’s 37%.
It’s not just about the rain forests any more – in urban areas worldwide trees are used to reduce noise, fumes, dust and man-made heat. The swathes of trees planted alongside British motorways are not just a pretty face – they’re also there to trap pollution and cut traffic noise. All trees – whwther native woodlands or ‘continuous canopy’ productive schemes – are valuable.Quality assurance
The woodland creation funded by forestry credits is seen in many places as a weapon in the national and global battle against pollution, degradation and climate change. To ensure a genuine gain, the Kyoto Protocol sets out two tests for this mechanism: ‘permanence’ and ‘additionality’. Forest Carbon adheres to both principles, as laid out in the UK Woodland Carbon Code.
Forest Carbon was active in the development and trialing of the new Code, which clearly recognizes the positive contribution made by forestry sinks to the British environment. The UK already counts forestry sequestration in its own annual National Carbon Account, and data from the ‘Read Report’ also supports the case for allowing businesses to compensate for their unavoidable emissions by planting trees.