A £50 million grants scheme to help boost tree-planting rates in the fight against climate change has been launched by the Government.
The new Woodland Carbon Guarantee will encourage farmers and landowners to plant more trees and create new woodland in return for payments as those trees grow.
It gives land managers in England the long-term financial income they need 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, providing new income for land managers who help businesses compensate for their carbon emissions.
Forestry and Climate Adaptation Minister Zac Goldsmith said: “Woodland creation is an excellent way to help combat the effects of climate change.
By supporting farmers and land managers who decide to invest in tree-planting, we are making sure we tackle climate change through nature-based solutions and – as part of our 25 Year Environment Plan – help leave the environment in a better state than we found it.
The Woodland Carbon Guarantee means that now – more than ever – there is no reason to delay planting trees.
Trees are a precious natural asset and, as a natural carbon sink, are a vital part of the fight against climate change. Woodlands and forests will play an important role in the UK’s efforts to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which is why the government is committed to planting 11 million trees by 2022. Funding for this scheme was announced by HM Treasury in the 2018 Autumn Budget.
By planting more trees and creating new woodland, land managers also provide a range of other ecosystem benefits such as preventing flood risk, soil conservation and boosting biodiversity.
Sir Harry Studholme, Chair of the Forestry Commission, said: “The Woodland Carbon Guarantee is an innovative new financial incentive for the mitigation of carbon dioxide emissions. By underpinning the carbon price I hope it will give confidence to landowners and investors, and encourage the planting of the right kind of trees at a viable scale. I am delighted that the Forestry Commission has been able to work with Defra to launch the scheme.
“Creating more woodland is vital in the fight against climate change, and the Guarantee provides land managers with long-term certainty of a guaranteed payment rate for carbon, which their trees lock up and store.
“I urge all land managers and owners thinking about planting to look at the scheme and apply for the Woodland Carbon Guarantee ahead of the first auction which will be held early next year.”
Government-appointed Tree Champion Sir William Worsley said: “Land managers across the country can support me in my role as Tree Champion by tapping into the environmental and economic benefits of planting more trees.
The Woodland Carbon Guarantee provides an exciting opportunity for land managers to be rewarded for enhancing the environment on a sustained long-term basis.
“The role trees play in combating climate change cannot be underestimated and by applying to the Guarantee you will also play a crucial role in helping with the UK’s efforts to hit Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050.
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.