Carbon & Natural Capital

The Woodland Carbon Code

The Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) is the quality assurance standard for owners of new woodland planting schemes to measure the amount of carbon the new woodland will sequester throughout its lifetime.


New woodland planting schemes must now be registered prior to planting and early engagement with the WCC should ensure a smooth transition to a successful scheme. Specific information regarding the plantation would be required such as area, location, ground preparation and tree species type and project duration i.e. between 35-100 years. A calculation will be made at this stage as to the potential carbon that could be sequestered during the lifetime of the project with respect to the above information.


Upon registering a new woodland planting scheme with the WCC, the scheme would be validated by a third party to ensure that it complies with the law, conforms to the standard set by the regulator (Scottish Forestry) and the amount of carbon sequestered is additional to that which would otherwise have been in the absence of the planting scheme. On successful validation, the scheme would be issued Pending Issuance Units (PIUs) which are an estimation of the amount of carbon the new woodland will sequester over the planned lifetime i.e. one carbon unit equals 1 tonne of carbon sequestered. PIUs are essentially potential carbon units that have a value and can be sold but can only be used by businesses to offset their carbon once the trees have actually grown and sequestered carbon during the verification process.


Again, the verification process is carried out by a third party and starts from year 5 and every 10 years thereafter, where a survey is carried out to determine the rate and amount of carbon sequestration by the growth of the trees. The PIUs can only then start to be converted to Woodland Carbon Units (WCUs) i.e. the amount of carbon that has been sequestered in the previous 5 or 10 years. At the end of project all of the PIUs will have been converted to WCUs. Only WCUs can be used by businesses to offset/inset their carbon emissions.


Landowner Obligations

  • Conform to the requirements of the WCC standard
  • Permanent land-use change for the specified project duration
  • Manage the land as per the management plan for the establishment period and as per the longer term management intentions for the project duration and beyond
  • Comply with the law and conform with the UK Forestry Standard
  • Restock where projects involve harvesting
  • Replant or undertake alternative planting should woodland area be lost due to wind, fire, pests, disease or development
  • Inform future landowner(s), and where land is tenanted, future tenant(s), of the commitment to the Woodland Carbon Code and any carbon contracts
  • If there is a loss of woodland carbon, notify the WCC Secretariat immediately and submit a Loss Report within six months of discovery
  • Make true and accurate carbon statements about the project which conform with WCC guidance
  • Abide by the WCC logo rules of use