Woodland Creation & Sequestering Carbon
Woodland planting is normally in the media spot light to promote its benefits for wildlife, biodiversity and amenity value but there is an additional benefit to woodland planting which is left often referred to – Carbon Sequestration.
As trees grow they accumulate carbon from the air and lock it in to their woody structure. This helps to reduce the amount of carbon in the air and therefore reduce the effects from global warming. The benefits of sequestering carbon can then be sold on an open market, this can help (along with grant funding options) for you to make the most of unproductive areas of your land holding and turn them in to diversely beneficial assets for the future. Lockhart Garratt’s Senior Forestry Consultant, Matthew Willetts said:
Any woodland project works on a long timescale, and when creating new woodland it is critical to consider the likely future policy developments, particularly with regard to carbon. By registering the rights to report carbon sequestration soon after planting, owners are future-proofing their woods by ensuring they can take advantage of new income opportunities as carbon markets develop. The wider the breadth of products which can be obtained from a given range of species, the more secure the income stream. As ever, a woodland which pays is a woodland which stays.
Lockhart Garratt have registered a number of new woodland plantings on the carbon register and an example of this is Bescaby Wood.
Bescaby Wood: About the Site
Lockhart Garratt have helped to manage woodland owned by the de Capell Brooke family for in excess of 20 years. Bescaby Wood is located on the Saltby Estate, situated between the market towns of Melton Mowbray and Grantham. It is one of the Woodland Trust’s ‘Diamond Woods’ planted to celebrate the Queen’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee. This project builds on existing woodland stretching out from the estate buildings connecting with the mature Bescaby Oaks, and linking hedgerows.
Saltby Estate is predominately in arable production with several small spinneys across the landscape and the existing Bescaby Oaks forming an 11 hectare centrepiece of mature semi-natural broadleaved woodland.
Bescaby Oaks Diamond Wood was created with multiple objectives: carbon sequestration, landscape enhancement, timber production, biodiversity and public enjoyment all play a part in its design and future.
The woodland at Bescaby was designed in line with a longer-term landscape plan for the estate to create a large parkland environment, framing what is currently intensive arable production. The decision to convert a significant area of productive arable land into woodland was not taken lightly. However, the opportunity to celebrate the Jubilee with this permanent and ever developing project was something the family was keen to undertake and excited to be a part of.
Bescaby Wood was planted with trees protected by shelters, with the main plantations surrounded by deer fence. This gives the trees the best possible start and also prevents browsing by deer and rabbits. Pedestrian gates within the fence have maintained access.
The ground was prepared for planting using low impact techniques to limit carbon release into the atmosphere. Managed open space was created within the project which, when mown on an annual basis, will provide valuable habitat for butterflies and wild flowers.
The wood includes 5,000 Oak trees, selected from seed stands for their quality. These will provide good quality timber in future, supplying demand for high quality English Oak. Although the wood contains ‘typical’ native broadleaved and conifer species, some less common species (for example, purple beeches, dawn redwoods and wild service tree) are also present to add visual variety and diversity.
As the woodland grows, it will be thinned to create a healthy woodland structure and eventually maintain woodland cover through a continuous cover forestry system offering shelter for many species of wildlife.
How do you make money from registering carbon?
Once your woodland has been planted, you have two years to register your woodland with the Woodland Carbon Code. Once this has been completed the next step is to go through a validation process which uses complicated equations to estimate how many tonnes of carbon the woodland will sequester over a set period of time. You can then market these tonnes of carbon on the UK Registry (Markit). This will allow local business/persons to view local projects and buy the carbon to help offset their emissions.
With an increasing focus on Corporate Social Responsibility and the environment, this is an increasingly popular way to offset carbon emissions for the travel, production and consumption that happens in various businesses.
What are the wider benefits?
At Bescaby Wood, the previous land use of arable farming involved annual ploughing, which generated carbon emissions. Converting to woodland has stopped these activities and emissions; the project will also store significant quantities of carbon.
The project will create a haven for wildlife, particularly as the woodland will be managed on a continuous cover basis, with no clearfelling. This protects the soil and greatly increases the biodiversity by providing a wide range of habitat niches in an area with low woodland cover.
The four bodies of woodland were designed to create a highly scenic parkland environment, in line with the larger estate woodland management plan. This is a valuable addition to parkland at a time when many historic parks and gardens are under threat.
Local schools are a major user; children visit the woodland to learn more about local wildlife and ecology. By encouraging a new generation to understand and value the growing of woods and trees, it is hoped that the sustainable future management of these woods will be secure.
Woodland Creation can be funded with attractive grants to minimise the outlay by owners for creating highly valuable habitats. Currently there are the following grants available which are dependent upon the location of the land and specifics on how the woodlands planted and with which species:
- Countryside Stewardship: Woodland Creation Grant
- Countryside Stewardship: Woodland Creation Planning Grant
- Forestry Commission: Woodland Carbon Fund
- Forestry Commission: HS2 Woodland Fund
- Woodland Trust: More Woods
- Network Rail: Biodiversity Fund
- The National Forest: Creating Woodland Funds
For more information on these please click here.