Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Woodland Creation Included in UK's Low Carbon Transition Strategy

The UK has released its Low Carbon Transition Plan. The Plan plots out how the UK will meet the cut in emissions set out in the budget of 34% on 1990 levels by 2020.

The Plan includes strategies for reducing emissions from agriculture and waste as well a strategy for "protecting, managing and growing our forests." This latter strategy is actually focused solely on an initiative to support the creation of new woodlands. Here is an excerpt:

Protecting, managing, and growing our forests
In 2007, forests in England removed a net total of about 2.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This removal rate is declining, as forests planted in the 1950s to 1980s reach maturity. If woodland creation and removal continue at their 2007 rates, it will drop to around half a million tonnes per year by 2020, and if woodland creation stops entirely it will fall to only a hundred thousand tonnes.

Woodland creation is a very cost-effective way of fighting climate change over the long term, but it requires an upfront investment. The Government is already doing this: woodland creation represents 60% of the grant aid administered by the Forestry Commission. But to realise the potential for 2050, we need to see a big increase in woodland creation – and we need to plant
sooner rather than later.

The Government will support a new drive to encourage private funding for woodland
creation. If we could create an additional 10,000 hectares of woodland per year for 15 years, those growing trees could remove up to 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between now and 2050. Well-targeted woodland creation can also bring other benefits, including a recreational resource, employment opportunities, flood alleviation, improvements in water quality, and helping to adapt our landscapes to climate change by linking habitats to support wildlife. The Government will ensure that woodland creation policies continue to respect the benefits and demands of landscape, biodiversity and food security.

This will allow businesses and individuals to help the UK meet its carbon budgets, whilst
delivering the other benefits that woodlands can bring. A number of informal schemes already exist, and the Government will work with them and with the private sector to consider how it can build on and complement existing initiatives. The Government is already laying the groundwork: including through the consultation on a Code of Good Practice for Forest Carbon Projects led by the Forestry Commission, and the Government consultation on corporate carbon reporting guidelines, which sets out how funding for domestic emissions reduction projects can be reported in company accounts.
Reference: The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan: National strategy for climate and energy. Chapter 7: Transforming farming and managing our land and waste sustainably. Page 160-161.

It's interesting that there is nothing in the plan for forest protection or management... perhaps this reflects the fact that only 7% of England is forested? (ref)

3 comments:

thingsbreak said...

Chris,

This isn't exactly on topic for the post, but I thought you might be interested in this paper at PNAS (it's open access).

Re-evaluation of forest biomass carbon stocks and lessons from the world's most carbon-dense forests

Cheers,
TB

Chris Henschel said...

Hey Thingsbreak, thanks (belatedly for your comment). This looks like a great article. I wanted to read it before responding but I am only half through right now. I think I will do a post on it when I'm done!

colin.morton said...

The Code of Good Practice for Forest Carbon Projects mentioned in this blog is now in its pilot stage before being launched early in 2011. More details are available at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/carboncode

Colin Morton, Forestry Commission