When trees are planted specifically to capture CO2 certain tests must be applied to the project to assure its quality. Those who sponsor new carbon woodlands are entitled to assurances regarding their scheme’s ecological impact, its carbon sequestration figures, its protection, its monitoring, and its additionality.
When Forest Carbon was founded no such quality assurance standard existed in the UK so we developed our own that embraced all relevant Kyoto Protocol and UK Forestry Standard principles, and was based on external peer review at all stages. We also began, in 2009, to work with the Forestry Commission and the industry on the development of an independent standard, which would eventually become the Woodland Carbon Code.
The Code, developed by the Forestry Commission and Defra, was launched in 2011 with Forest Carbon having been instrumental in its design and trialling. (By the time of the launch we had developed over 40 carbon woodlands and had plenty of experience to offer). Forest Carbon leads the way in the implementation of the Code – with the first ever project certification (and 200 or so since), and the first ever year 5 re-certifications in 2016. The Code itself meets all international carbon project principles, as enshrined in the Kyoto Protocol.
A similar process ensued when, in 2015, the Peatland Code was developed and launched. Forest Carbon contributed to the research and implementation, which was funded in part by DEFRA. The Peatland Code is modelled on the Woodland Carbon Code, enshrining all the same principles of carbon offsetting best practise, and is administered by IUCN with OF&G providing independent verification. Forest Carbon were the first project developers to achieve validation under the Peatland Code, with Dryhope, a project in the Scottish Borders, in 2017. Since then, the code’s profile has grown considerably with a large pipeline of peatland restoration projects now under development. The Peatland Code’s carbon credits are housed in the UK Land Carbon Registry on IHS Markit, alongside their Woodland Carbon Code equivalents.