Turn woodland into emission-reducing money machines, farmers urged

Woodland carbon credits provide incentives to cut UK emissions
Woodland carbon credits provide incentives to cut UK emissions

Farmers and landowners are being urged to generate cash by signing up for a woodland scheme to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The Woodland Carbon Code (WCC), a UK Government scheme aimed at verifying the amount of CO2 to be captured by new planting, offers landowners tax-free income alongside more traditional forestry revenues.

Designed to address the UK’s international environmental obligations, the newly established market allows woodland owners to trade ‘credits’ with companies engaged in industries that produce atmospheric emissions.

Organisers estimate how much carbon will be captured during the lifetime of a project and once validated, the data is issued as pending issuance units. Though tradeable, PIUs cannot be used to ofset carbon emissions.

Audits are made at planned stages throughout the life of a scheme to calculate carbon captured – then verified PIUs are ‘converted’ to woodland carbon units and used officially to offset carbon footprints.

Planters can either sell PIUs upfront and remain tied to delivering target totals over the life of the scheme – up to 100 years, or sell approved woodland carbon units at verification times.

This second option delays revenue but allows owners to offload carbon in verified batches to a willing buyer and in the event of a land disposal, pass on an asset of unsold carbon.

A 100-hectare (247-acre) native woodland scheme, capturing 30,000 tonnes of CO2 over 95 years, could yield between £152,000 and £304,000 in carbon revenue depending on carbon value, usually £5-10 per tonne of CO2.

Philippa Cliff, a Registered Valuer at property consultancy Galbraith said: “Not only is this a practical and effective way to promote carbon reduction, WCC can significantly affect the returns from forestry, and should be seriously considered by all those undertaking new woodland planting.”

The Woodland Carbon Code was launched by the government in July 2011.