As an industry, we know that to reduce carbon emissions, we need to use more timber in our buildings. And we know that to do that, we will need to grow more trees on our land.
In a world where, increasingly, companies and individuals are becoming more aware of ways to reduce or offset their own carbon dioxide emissions, a new woodland creation and investment scheme may provide the solution.
CarbonStore, a new business division from BSW Group member Tilhill is helping companies to neutralise their carbon emissions through investment in woodlands, whilst incentivising farmers and landowners to plant more trees. The end goal? To offset and reduce our carbon emissions through carbon storage and provide more of the raw materials needed to increase our use of timber in construction.
The wonders of this wholly natural process are best illustrated when considering the step-by-step evolution of a woodland. As the trees, which create our timber products, mature into sturdy pines, oaks or beeches, a myriad of organic, natural and, quite literally, marvellous phenomenon take shape.
Planted by landowners and farmers, the trees feed themselves on carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, created by our daily lives, storing the carbon as the raw material for their roots, trunk and branches while releasing cleansed and purified oxygen back into the air. In the meantime, in and around the trees, thousands of insects, birds, animals, plants, shrubs and flowers are making themselves a home.
Every part of our trees provides a home, a place to feed and somewhere to shelter for much of the natural life which is integral to our ecology. Birds make their nests in the branches, leaves provide nutrition for the soil and mushrooms thrive in the damp, wholesome canopy.
The result is also a playground for us as humans in society. Everyone enjoys a walk through the woods with the autumn leaves turning a distinct yellowy orange, the birds gathering their berries for the winter and the conkers, acorns and leaves littering the ground. It’s refreshing, it’s relaxing and it’s known to improve our health.
As the timber industry knows only too well, the benefits don’t stop there though. At the end of all this, once the trees grow old and are ready for harvesting, they provide us with the best possible building material we could hope for. One that keeps us warm – wood is a good insulator, that looks stunning – just walk into any cross-laminated timber building for proof, that holds all the noxious carbon dioxide inside itself and, above all, one that doesn’t need a dirty furnace or factory to produce it.
CarbonStore is an innovative scheme that helps encourage companies to invest in ready-planted or prospective woodlands, to offset the company’s own annual emissions.
It does this by using the Woodland Carbon Code, a voluntary UK code that provides reliable information on how much carbon dioxide an area of woodland or forestry will absorb over its expected life. Using this code, CarbonStore determines exactly how much woodland needs to be planted in order to offset the carbon dioxide of a prospective investor’s annual carbon emissions as an organisation.
This code is also used to help farmers and landowners calculate the volume of carbon their woodlands are likely to sequester, making it easier to broker a business relationship between investor and woodland provider.
With strong links within the farming, forestry and landowning sector across the UK, CarbonStore act as the key link in the process of arranging investment from companies in a huge variety of ready-planted or prospective woodlands, each carefully considered for its carbon sequestration potential.
As more companies become interested in investing in woodlands, landowners and farmers are incentivised to plant more trees, and, once mature, these trees provide more raw material for timber construction. All whilst continually sequestering and storing carbon dioxide.
Inevitably, for a process like this to be successful there must be strict regulations. The right trees need to be planted in the right place; they need to be cared for appropriately so that they grow up strong and healthy. The Woodland Carbon Code outlines the rules and regulations surrounding these issues and more, so investors can be confident that the trees they choose and help grow are sustainable and fit for purpose.
While the Woodland Carbon Code provides this regulatory framework, CarbonStore puts the theory into practice. CarbonStore takes away the burden and guesswork from farmers and landowners by arranging the necessary audits and inspections required by the Woodland Carbon Code.
In addition to working directly with landowners and farmers on regulation and encouraging further planting, CarbonStore is also continuously developing strong relationships with companies of all shapes and sizes in the corporate sector to market these woodland-generated carbon units to. When a company shows interest in a scheme, CarbonStore can arrange an introduction between the corporate buyer and the landowner selling, advise on a fair price and provide the necessary legal contract agreeing the terms.
These new-found connections between corporate companies and landowners don’t just benefit us in terms of climate change mitigation, but it also offers an opportunity to enrich both our ecology and our wider society and business communities.
Not limited in its reach to those in the corporate sector, CarbonStore also benefits companies already operating within the timber industry, illustrating how investment in woodland creation can create both environmental and economic sustainability. By funding woodland creation, a sawmill or DIY retailer can not only offset its carbon footprint but also harvest raw materials for its own end-products once its woody investments have matured.
The BSW Group, with operations stretching from growing the tree seed right through to the sawmill, is ideally placed to help companies participate in this environmentally, ecologically and economically sustainable process. Maelor Forest Nurseries nurtures the seeds into young saplings which Tilhill then plants, nurtures, manages and harvests. BSW Timber then processes the harvested logs into sawn timber ready for use in our homes and gardens across the UK. It is suitably placed to manage the CarbonStore project, with experience working across all stakeholder areas.
CarbonStore’s services provide a vital, additional incentive which landowners need to grow more trees. This simple process ensures that we not only have the raw materials to house and shelter generations in the future but that they live in a green and pleasant land protected by a clean and safe environment.