CARBON TRADING looks likely to be a major part of UK farmers' future – and the administrative infrastructure to enable that market place is getting stronger.

As part of that consolidation and mainstreaming, two key UK-wide carbon markets have just joined forces, creating a more accessible ‘one-stop-shop’ for farmers wanting to claim a share of this emerging income stream. The UK Woodland Carbon Registry and UK Peatland Code are now combined as the new UK Land Carbon Registry.

Welcoming the initiative, Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “We recognise the role that woodlands and carbon sequestration have to play and wish to see an increase in the size of the woodland carbon market by at least 50% over the next five years. Added to this, the Scottish Government is committed to seeing the rate of peatland restoration programmes grow over the coming years.

“The new UK Land Carbon Registry will help to create a more joined up marketplace, making it easier for companies in the UK to play their part in tackling climate change by investing in planting trees, creating more woodlands and restoring more peatland in Scotland.”

UK Government Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith, said: “This new joint registry will support nature-based solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises by making it easier for investors to offset emissions. This builds on our existing support for the domestic carbon market, driven by our Woodland Carbon Guarantee scheme which provides landowners additional long-term income for capturing carbon through new woodlands.

“Well-managed woodlands and healthy peatlands play essential roles in helping us to reach net zero. That is why we committed a £640m Nature for Climate Fund to restore peatlands and increase tree planting by 30,000 hectares per year across the UK by 2025.”

Around 12,000 large businesses across the UK now have a statutory duty to report their greenhouse gases alongside their annual accounts – and this has spurred on many companies to seek ways to compensate for their residual carbon emissions. This increase in demand is driving more private sector investment into creating woodlands and peatland restoration programmes across the UK.

Currently, around 526 woodland creation projects have registered with the UK’s Woodland Carbon Code, with 40% being in Scotland. This represents a doubling of projects compared to the past year alone and these registered projects are predicted to sequester over eight million tonnes of CO2 over their lifetime.

Interest is also booming for the Peatland Code which has seen a doubling of the number of registered projects in the last year – bringing the total to 24 projects. There are currently four validated projects which will reduce emissions from degraded peatlands by around 100,000 tonnes CO2 emitted over their lifetime.

Landowners who validate their woodland or peatland restoration schemes to either standard can have all their projects and carbon units in the one place – the new UK Land Carbon Registry. Carbon units can then be sold on to companies wanting to compensate for their residual emissions.

Scottish Forestry Woodland Carbon Code manager, Dr Vicky West, added: “It’s great that the Peatland Code is joining us to create the UK Land Carbon Registry, providing a single location for all UK carbon units. This makes it simpler for landowners and buyers alike, and helps us to grow the domestic carbon market.”

Programme leader at the IUCN UK Peatland Programme, Dr Emma Goodyer, commented:“Peatland Code projects joining the UK Land Carbon Registry is an essential step forwards in ensuring the accurate and robust accounting of carbon units generated from peatland restoration. With the recent increase in interest of both projects and investors seeking to use the Peatland Code the joint registry offers a new home for the accounting of these projects.”

NatureScot’s Low Carbon project manager Brendan Turvey added: “We’re very pleased to see the new register launched and hope this will start to draw more private investment in to peatland restoration in Scotland. We will help make this happen through the continued support of Scottish Government funding for Peatland Action, and look forward to working with partners, land owners and investors to leverage private investment.”