Previously, developers had up to two years from the date of planting to register under the WCC, a UK voluntary standard providing structure and credibility to woodland carbon accounting, and aimed at helping investors identify quality projects.
A change in the rules means anyone who has planted, potentially up to two years ago, and has yet to register under the WCC, must do so by 30 June 2021. After that, any new registration must be made prior to planting. Other changes include a revised standard document and new template documents for all stages – registration, validation and verification.
Athole McKillop, Partner and Head of Forestry at the property consultancy Galbraith, said:
“The whole issue of carbon is growing massively in importance and increasingly coming under scrutiny, not least to ensure greenhouse gas emission performance is accounted for and targets fulfilled credibly.
“While this is not a huge change, it’s a sensible reminder for people in the woodland sector to think carefully about the carbon registration of a project rather than it being an afterthought, so we suggest planning early to take full advantage of what’s shaping up as a pretty good scheme.”
Further aspects to consider:
- ‘Additionality’ – the added value that Carbon can bring to a project is examined through an Additionality calculation – this is under increased scrutiny, so examine financial justification to ensure validation;
- Linked to this are aspects of value associated with delivery of wider ecosystem services – in any future value accretion. Projects must be carefully considered in the round and potentially alongside other projects on a property;
- Aside from clarification on project monitoring, self-assessment arises as an option from year 15 if certain basic criteria are met.
Louise Alexander, who leads the Forestry team in the Galbraith Inverness office, added:
“The updated Woodland Carbon Code provides some further clarity for those negotiating the registration maze, but it also suggests that both the rules and their interpretation remain under development. The Peatland Code, which can be used to register peatland restoration projects on the environmental registry alongside WCC projects, currently remains unchanged – but don’t be surprised if we see further development of this code also.”