Planting trees to capture carbon

Our climate is changing. Across the country, local authorities are grappling with how to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

New woods and forests can play a key role – not only capturing CO2 but also delivering a multitude of other benefits. 

A guide to help all local authorities respond to the climate emergency with new trees and woodland has been produced by the Forestry Commission (see information box, below). 

The 10-step plan in the diagram, below, illustrates the journey which an authority needs to follow to end up with carbon savings independently verified by the Woodland Carbon Code, the voluntary standard for UK woodland creation projects where claims are made about the carbon dioxide they sequester.

A small number of authorities have reached step nine – where are you? 

If you have embarked on this journey, we can help. The Forestry Commission is working in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to deliver the Nature for Climate Fund (NCF), providing grants and incentives for woodland creation and peat restoration. 

For those considering larger-scale woodland as part of their 10-step plan, the new woodland creation lease scheme funded by the NCF and developed by Forestry England could be the answer. 

The Forestry England Woodland Partnership has been launched and Forestry England is now looking for applications from a wide range of landowners – including local authorities – who are able to offer a minimum of 50 hectares for a long-term lease of between 60 and 120 years. 

Once a lease partnership and rent payment is agreed, Forestry England will then design, register, plant and manage the site – completing steps six to 10 in the diagram (see right). The local authority just provides the land. 

The closing date for 2021 applications is 1 June. For further information on how to apply, please visit forestryengland.uk/woodland-creation.

10 steps to carbon savings

  1. Declare climate emergency
  2. Commit to tree planting 
  3. Calculate emissions
  4. Write abatement, adaptation and mitigation strategies
  5. Calculate area of new woodland required
  6. Identify available and suitable land
  7. Register land with Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) 
  8. Plant woodland and validate (WCC)
  9. Manage and monitor new woodland 
  10. Verify carbon units through independent checks every 10 years. Manage. Achieve your CO2 goals 

‘Responding to the climate emergency with new trees and woodlands: a guide to help local authorities and landowning businesses achieve net zero’ is available for free at https://bit.ly/3e4X15v. For more about the Woodland Carbon Code, see www.woodlandcarboncode.org.uk 

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