Third auction round from government's market-based scheme confirmed in bid to spur tree planting and combat CO2
Government confirms £10m auction of tree planting contracts The latest auction of tree planting contracts through the Woodland Carbon Guarantee scheme is set to take place online in the autumn, with £10m being made available to support farmers and land managers boost forestation to help tackle climate change, the government announced today.
First announced last November, the "pioneering" £50m Woodland Carbon Guarantee offers long-term payments for the amount of carbon a new woodland can store, in a bid to provide an additional stream of income for farmers and land managers.
The market-based scheme is administered by the Forestry Commission, and aims to help accelerate woodland planting rates as a natural means of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The scheme's second auction closed in June 2020, which saw 27 contracts offered by the Forestry Commission to help stimulate the creation of more than 1,500 hectares of new woodland to help tackle climate change, according to Defra.
The third auction of contracts is now scheduled to take place online between 26 October and 1 November 2020, after which successful bidders will be offered the option to sell Woodland Carbon Units - a financial value given to each tonne of carbon stored - to the government over 35 years at a guaranteed price protected against inflation.
The government is a keen champion of creating markets to tackle environmental issues, and Sir William Worsley, chair of the Forestry Commission, said results from the latest auction in June showed the scheme was "growing in its success".
"This pioneering scheme could be the perfect fit for many farmers and land managers looking to help tackle the climate and nature crises now upon us," he said. "I strongly encourage anyone thinking about planting to sign up ahead of the next auction in October."
Tree planting and forestry protection are seen as crucial tools for meeting the UK's 2050 net zero emissions goal, but annual tree planting rates remain far below what experts say is required and targets continue to be missed.
The Committee on Climate Change has said the UK should be planting around 30,000 hectares of woodland each year if it is to deliver net zero, potentially rising to 50,000 hectares if other carbon reduction targets are not met.
And, announced in June among a series of recovery measures aimed at "building back greener" from the Covid-19 crisis, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a target to plant 75,000 acres - roughly equivalent to 30,000 hectares - of trees each year by 2025.
However, reaching such levels will be a major challenge for the UK, with only around 13,400 hectares planted in the year ending in March 2019.
Urging farmers and landowners to sign up to the Woodland Carbon Guarantee scheme, Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith said tree planting and forestation would help "rebuild our country to ensure a greener and more resilient future".
"This scheme provides landowners with the long-term certainty of a guaranteed payment rate for carbon, which their trees lock up and store," he said. "From helping to reduce carbon emissions, encouraging biodiversity and nature recovery, and improving people's health and wellbeing, the benefits of trees are undeniable."
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