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Woodland Carbon Code

The Woodland Carbon Code is the UK’s government backed standard for woodland carbon projects, providing the mechanism for landowners to attract carbon funding to support woodland creation projects on their land. In Scotland, it is administered by Scottish Forestry.


Photograph of an area in the Yarrow Valley showing an area with broadleaf saplings after the first growing season (© Forest Direct Ltd)

The Woodland Carbon Code is a government scheme administered by Scottish Forestry. It is a voluntary standard for woodland creation projects in the UK that allows the owners of new woodland planting schemes to calculate the total carbon sequestration their woodland will achieve over the lifetime of the trees.

Independent certification to this standard provides assurance and clarity about the carbon savings of these sustainably managed woodlands.

The Code sets out design and management requirements for voluntary UK-based projects that aim to sequester carbon through woodland creation.

Over 250 woodland projects have been validated under the Woodland Carbon Code to date and predicted to sequester over 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Operating at a landscape scale, the project both supports and depends on the involvement of local people and land-based businesses, learning from the effects of past management.


The project

Photograph of an area in the Yarrow Valley showing heathland and some planting of Scots Pine in the background (© Forest Direct Ltd)

At a site in Broadmeadows in the Yarrow Valley on the Scottish Borders, a new mixed productive and broadleaved woodland covering over 225 hectares of former low-quality hill grazing land has been planted which will generate over 70,000 verified carbon credits.

The woodland has been carefully designed to include open areas forming very diverse habitat, including rock rose and myriad of other wildflowers which improves the prospect for butterflies such as Northern Brown Argus, Pearl Bordered Fritillary and a plethora of other butterflies, moths and dragonflies.

This project is a natural progression of previous environmental improvements on the farm, forming wildlife corridors and improving air and water quality and flood mitigation.

The site has also been carefully designed to complement the outstanding landscape of the Southern Uplands which attract visitors from all over the world. Public access will be massively improved by providing a network of access routes which link to regional and national routes such as the Southern Upland Way and Minch Moor road.

Work commenced in November 2018 and planting was completed at the end of March 2019. Ongoing maintenance is key to successful establishment and has been rigorously applied. The new path network has been designed and mapped out ready for planning prior notification approval. Heather management is undertaken annually in March with swiping carried out in 2020 and will be an annual process.


Environmental and societal benefits

The landowner is keen to develop woodland access for local people and the wider community. There are plans to greatly increase access routes for all ages and abilities, where the public will be able to enjoy magnificent vistas of the countryside and the flora and fauna in the new woodlands and open areas without the need to enter fields with livestock.

By taking the sheep off the hill natural regeneration of willow, bilberry and heather are enhancing the habitat for wildlife including black grouse, red grouse, curlew, snipe and golden plover.

Significant areas containing environmental interest have been left unplanted. Access routes have provided safe quiet areas where the local community have been able to take daily exercise whether walking their dogs, on bicycles or on horseback throughout the recent Coronavirus pandemic, with plenty of space for social distancing. The benefits for mental health and well-being are well documented.

Black grouse are enjoying the new diverse habitat with wild bilberry now growing in the open areas, last year for the first time we had a brood of black grouse fledge successfully which has been most encouraging. The moorland management plan has created different ages of heather in a mosaic to encourage red grouse, golden plover, snipe and curlew and scrapes & ponds have been formed to provide a food source for the benefit of invertebrates and insects.

The project is also providing a nature-based solution to flood mitigation with the new woodlands contributing to the stemming of the flow of surface water. The project will also sequester over 72,000 tonnes of carbon over the next 55 years.

From the economic and societal perspective, the new woodlands have created work for local contractors and tree nurseries. A significant volume of high-quality timber will be produced in the long-term providing home-grown timber to the construction and power generation industries.


Project partners

  • Scottish Forestry
  • Landowners
  • Forest Direct Ltd


Further information


The Inter-Agency Climate Change Group

This project is one of a series of projects which showcase some of the best examples of Nature-based Solutions from across the four countries of the UK. The information has been compiled by the UK Inter-Agency Climate Change Group (IACCG), and is being hosted on the JNCC website on behalf of the group.




Nature-based Solutions: IACCG case studies

Published: .

To find out more about this project, or the Inter-Agency Climate Change Group, please get in touch.

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