The Woodland Carbon Code

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The launch of the UK's Woodland Carbon Code in July 2011 marks a significant, positive development in UK woodland creation. We at Forest Carbon were members of the Forestry Commission's Technical Group that developed the Code and we also contributed to the Code's trialling with two of our existing projects before it went live. Our membership of the Code's Advisory Group is ongoing, and we recently completed the trialling and first ever validation of a group scheme: a means to collectively certify a number of small woodlands, making it cost effective for them to be part of the Code. 

All of Forest Carbon's previous and existing projects had in any case been designed to meet our own in-house Forest Carbon Standard, which contained the kinds of principles now enshrined in the Woodland Carbon Code. To date we have a 100% success rate in gaining validations for projects we developed before the Code was launched - demonstrating the quality of our ownearly Standard.

The Woodland Carbon Code - What it means in practice


The Code delivers - officially - the kind of assurances our own Forest Carbon Standard had given before, i.e. it offers carbon credit buyers the assurance that each woodland scheme will deliver the benefits that we say it will, and that that woodland represents genuine new planting. There is more about the range of principles concerned in the Code in our pages about Additionality & Permanence , Carbon Calculations , Biodiversity & Environment , and Monitoring.

Compliance with the Code means that buyers can be assured that:

  • ●  the woodlands are responsibly and sustainably managed to the UK Forest Standard;
  • ●  the project developer (Forest Carbon in this case) can provide reliable estimates of the amount of carbon that will be captured as a result of the new woodland being planted;
  • ●  the woodland has been logged with the Code's registry and is independently verified;
  • ●  the woodland meets transparent standards to ensure that real additional carbon benefits are delivered.

Each project developed under the Code are registered with the Forestry Commission, and information submitted includes site boundaries, species mix, management plans, land ownership, financial modelling, carbon calculations and terms of the contracts between the parties. This information is then be validated by a third party - an organisation themselves certified by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) - and an ongoing monitoring programme for the woodlands is agreed between the parties. (Forest Carbon works with SFQC - the Scottish farming and organic food certification organisation - on its projects). Projects validated under the Code, and the credits that arise from them, will appear on the Markit Envronmental Registry  - giving buyers assurance and interested parties transparency.   

At present the Code covers the following activities:

  • ●  net carbon capture from new woodland creation, within the woodland boundary;
  • ●  management regimes that extend from from frequent clear-felling to minimum intervention woodland;
  • ●  emissions outside the woodland boundary that arise as a result of the project going ahead (this is called leakage).

The Code does not cover:

  • ●  additional carbon sequestration due to changes to the management of existing woodland;
  • ●  carbon stored in forest products;
  • ●  the carbon saved when substituting wood products or fuels for other products or fuels with a larger carbon footprint.

The Code is aligned with the core requirements of other international forest carbon standards, for example CarbonFix, the Voluntary Carbon Standard, Plan Vivo and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard. It does not provide a route to conformance with regulatory carbon ‘offsetting’ schemes (eg. the Carbon Reduction Scheme or EU Emissions Trading Scheme); or the generation of internationally tradable carbon credits linked to the compliance market. 

Forest Carbon woodlands validated

Forest Carbon was proud to be the developer of the first project ever validated under the code: Milton of Mathers, in Aberdeenshire. To date (Feb '14) there have been 61 projects validated across the UK, 47 of them developed by Forest Carbon. 

The full Woodland Carbon Code project registry can be found here .