WOODLAND Trust Scotland has called for a debate on carbon payment regulation, arguing payments for woodland creation should empower communities. 

Woodland Trust Scotland director Alastair Seaman said: “We are facing both a climate emergency and a biodiversity crisis. Scotland’s percentage tree cover is around half that of the average European country, and only a tiny proportion is native. Scotland’s biodiversity is amongst the most depleted in the world. Looking after our existing woodlands and creating more of them is an effective response to both the climate and biodiversity crises.   

READ MORE: Tom Jenkins and Gary Kerr: Senior forestry figures awarded ICF's Institute’s Medal

“Income received through the Woodland Carbon Code, a voluntary assurance standard for UK woodland-creation projects, is a valuable driver for creating new native woodland in Scotland at the scale we need to respond to the nature and climate crises.  

“There is no doubt that woodland carbon projects can be a positive mechanism for woodland expansion, but some negative unintended consequences are emerging.

"Sensible regulation is required to counter these and make the system work better. We would support regulation to ensure community access to affordable land, access to affordable housing and empowerment of local communities to shape their own destinies.  

“Appropriate checks and balances need to be in place to ensure that private and public funding are delivering maximum public benefit including community benefit.   

“We warmly welcome the Scottish Government’s recent announcement of six interim principles to promote responsible investment in Scotland’s natural assets – and we look forward to engaging in more formal policy development on what mechanisms should be used to apply these principles.”  

READ MORE: APF 2022: What is it? How can I get involved? Where can I buy tickets? Where is it held in Warwickshire?

Woodland Trust Scotland said it would like to see discussion on:
- Making community benefit a condition of forestry grant schemes above a certain size
- A public interest test for land purchases above a certain size 
- Making ‘just transition’ a key driver for the forestry and land-use sectors – creating good green jobs, community access to land and participation in decision-making around land.