£50m scheme to encourage farmers to plant trees

The scheme supports farmers and land managers who decide to invest in tree-planting
The scheme supports farmers and land managers who decide to invest in tree-planting

A new £50m government scheme which aims to encourage farmers and landowners in England to plant more trees has been launched.

The Woodland Carbon Guarantee scheme has been unveiled today (4 November) in an effort to fight against climate change.

It encourages land managers to create new woodland in return for payments as those trees grow.

The scheme looks to provide long-term financial income needed for landowners to invest in carbon sequestration - the process by which trees lock up and store carbon from the atmosphere.

Successful participants will be offered the option to sell Woodland Carbon Units to the government over 35 years at a guaranteed price set by auction.

Forestry Commission Chief Executive Ian Gambles explains more about the guarantee and urged farmers and landowners to apply.

He said: “The new Woodland Carbon Guarantee will give land managers the security needed to invest in carbon sequestration.

“The scheme will offer successful participants the option to sell Woodland Carbon Units to government at a guaranteed price every five or ten years up until 2055/56, which provides an additional long-term income from woodland.

“If preferred, farmers can still choose to sell CO2 on the open market rather than to the government.

“This can cover income foregone from planting woodland on marginal agricultural land and provide long-term security when making the decision to invest in tree planting.”

Mr Gambles explained that the guaranteed price for CO2 is agreed with the government through an online reverse auction.

“A series of auctions will take place every six months for up to five years, beginning in early 2020,” he added.

“In order to bid in the auction land managers will need to calculate how much money they need (per tonne of CO2) in order to make the project financially viable and worthwhile.”

To apply for the Woodland Carbon Guarantee, land managers need to register their projects with the Woodland Carbon Code - the voluntary standard for UK woodland creation projects where claims are made about the carbon dioxide they sequester.