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First accreditations for carbon-capturing woodland creation projects announced

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) has accredited the first validation/verification bodies for Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) projects.

The WCC was launched in July 2011 to help give credibility to woodland creation schemes which are specifically aimed at carbon sequestration. The first two bodies to be granted UKAS accreditation under ISO 14065 to audit woodland creation schemes for the WCC are Scottish Food Quality Certification Ltd (SFQC) and SGS UK Ltd. 

Welcoming the announcement of the accreditations, Tim Rollinson, Director-General of the Forestry Commission, said, “One of the most popular ways of compensating for carbon emissions is to plant trees, which capture or ‘sequester’ carbon, taking it out of the atmosphere.

However, the validity of some previous schemes has been questioned: are the right varieties of trees being planted? How long before they are cut down? Or do they even exist at all?  The detailed requirements of the WCC, supported by rigorous assessments which come with UKAS accreditation of the assessors, or auditors, will help to deliver confidence in the integrity and effectiveness of woodland creation projects in the UK which make claims about carbon capture.”

The WCC requires full details of the types and areas of woodland to be created at a particular location, and about how they will be managed.  It specifies how the amount of carbon sequestered should be predicted and measured, as well as making allowances for events such as fire or disease.  There is a particular emphasis on “additionality”, a concept which seeks to ensure that the trees would not just have been planted in any event.

Developers of woodland creation projects for certification against the WCC are able to register with the Forestry Commission. The details will be publicly available so that carbon sequestration claims can be verified.  The validation/verification bodies will check that the claims made by the woodland creation project proposers comply with the WCC.

Janet Gascoigne, Accreditation Manager, Development at UKAS said. “The granting of the first two accreditations to this new standard is a key step towards both business and the public being able to recognise, understand and trust what carbon capturing schemes can do for them.  It also provides another example of the effectiveness of accreditation as an alternative to regulation, not just in the environmental field but across a wide variety of industry sectors.”

As the UK’s National Accreditation Body, UKAS’s role within the scheme is to accredit validation/verification bodies to the requirements of the standard ISO 14065.  The scheme is now open to other applicant validation/verification bodies following the successful completion of the pilot project with SGS and SFQC.

For details on how to become an accredited verification body please visit the UKAS website http://www.ukas.com/about-accreditation/apply-for-accreditation/Apply_for_Accreditation.asp

For further information on UKAS and accredited organisations please visit ww.ukas.com
For more information on the WCC please visit www.forestry.gov.uk/carboncode