We all know that urgent action to tackle climate change is needed.
The UK is the first major economy to legislate for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Trees are vital in the fight against climate change but trees take time to grow and store carbon, which is why we need to plant trees now if we want to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
The new Woodland Carbon Guarantee will give you, the land managers, the security you need 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 your woodland.
If you prefer, you can still choose to sell your 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.
The guaranteed price for your 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. In order to bid in the auction, you will need to calculate how much money you need (per tonne of CO₂) in order to make your project financially viable and worthwhile.
If you are successful in the auction, the government will buy the CO₂ for the price that you bid - which is protected against inflation for the life of the contract. This guaranteed price and the income you will get from it will also help to reduce the traditional risks associated with establishing new woodlands, thereby making the process of converting areas of your land to woodland a more attractive prospect.
Before you apply for the Guarantee, you will need to have registered with the Woodland Carbon Code, which provides the tools and information required to plan your woodland and calculate the amount of carbon that it will remove from the atmosphere. The woodland will also need to comply with the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard. Your Guarantee application may also be made alongside applications for woodland creation grants (for example, Countryside Stewardship, the Woodland Carbon Fund or the HS2 Woodland Fund) – provided that any other contracts were signed after 29 October 2018.
There is no reason to delay applying for the Guarantee and plant trees now: the Guarantee provides you with long term certainty of a guaranteed payment rate for carbon which your trees lock up and store. This, in addition to being able to apply for the Guarantee alongside other woodland creation grants, makes planting new woodland a really attractive option for both farmers and land managers. I strongly encourage you to apply now ahead of the first auction, which is being held early next year.
To apply for the Guarantee, you will need to submit an application form providing a few basic details for your proposed woodland creation project, including the amount of CO₂ that it will remove from the atmosphere.