New moves to boost tree planting for carbon capture

Posted: August 4, 2011

Source – Horticulture Week

Trees reduce carbon in atmosphereTwo new moves announced today are expected to attract new investment into UK tree planting projects designed to help combat climatechange.

Planting new forests and woodland helps to counteract the greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas. As trees grow they capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store the carbon as wood and organic matter, whilst releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. Commercial interest in investing in tree planting for carbon capture in this way is increasing, but until now there have been neither standards against which to measure the carbon capture claims, nor a mechanism to report the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

A new Woodland Carbon Code, launched on 27 July by the Forestry Commission, provides a consistent national approach as well as clarity and transparency to potential investors about just what their money should buy them.

In addition, Defra has today issued new government guidance on how organisations should report greenhouse gas removals and emissions from UK woodland planting where a project meets the requirements of the Woodland Carbon Code.

Pam Warhurst, Forestry Commission chair, said: “Tree planting projects are attractive to organisations on a number of levels: they can reduce their carbon footprint at low cost, improve the environment, and enhance their environmental reputation. It’s a win, win, win situation for smart organisations.

“We now have the means to capitalise on some very significant funding opportunities and attract very welcome new woods and forests for everyone’s benefit.”

To comply with the Code, woodland projects must be responsibly and sustainably managed to national standards, use set methods for estimating the carbon that will be captured, be independently certified, and meet transparent criteria and standards.

Project providers must register with the Forestry Commission, stating the exact location and long-term objectives of their projects. Once approved, projects will appear in a national, on-line register.

The UK’s woodland absorbs about two per cent of our annual emissions of greenhouse gases, but with increased planting, they have the potential to soak up much more and further help to mitigate climate change. The independent Read Report, commissioned by the Forestry Commission to examine the potential of the UK’s forests to mitigate and adapt to our changing climate, concluded that woodland creation provided a highly cost-effective and achievable means of abating greenhouse gas emissions.