4. Verification - Ongoing check of carbon sequestered
There are two stages to 3rd party audits of WCC projects which are undertaken by a body accredited by the UK Accreditation Service:
- Validation is the initial evaluation of the project against the requirements of the Woodland Carbon Code more.
- Verification is the ongoing evaluation of the project against the requirements of the Woodland Carbon Code. Verification will assess the carbon sequestration that has actually occurred as well as continuing management to the UK Forestry Standard
At verification, verification body will check that statements about predicted or actual carbon sequestration are materially correct,
- At year 5, with a limited level of assurance
- From year 15 onwards, with a reasonable level of assurance for standard projects and a limited level of assurance for small projects
The verification due-date is indicated on the first validation statement. The first verification shall be held:
- Projects with start dates July 2011 or later: 5 years after project start date
- Projects with start dates prior to July 2011: 5 years after the date of validation
The second verification will occur 15 years after the start date for all projects.
Subsequent verifications will occur as a minimum every 10 years (ie in years 25, 35, 45, 55, 65, 75, 85, 95, 100) during the project duration.
If there are extenuating circumstances for a delay, the project should seek the approval of the Forestry Commission and Markit. If approval is granted, a Verification Extension Approval shall be uploaded to the UK Woodland Carbon Registry.
Ideally, groups will be formed prior to validation, but it is also possible to form a group for the purposes of verification.
- If a group is formed for verification, the start dates of the projects within the group should be within 2 years of each other (this also means that their verifications will be due within 2 years of each other).
- A group requires a Group Manager and and Group Agreement (See 2.1 Commitment of landowners and project/ group managers).
- Once projects are grouped, the grouping should remain the same for each subsequent verification.
Organic Farmers and Growers and Soil Association are accredited by the UK Accreditation Service to verify Woodland Carbon Code projects. Soil Association can also provide a quote to undertake both the required site monitoring and the verification check of the site.
|Organic Farmers and Growers||Soil Association|
|T: 01939 291800||T: 0117 914 2435|
The cost of verification can vary depending upon the complexity of your project and whether a site visit is required. It is likely to cost more than validation if a site visit is required, and we recommend getting quotes from both verifiers.
There are a number of steps involved in getting your project verified:
- Contact a verification body to initiate the verification process ideally 12 months before the verification due-date, be thinking about undertaking monitoring at this time also
- Ask the verification body to check your survey plan prior to commencing monitoring
- Carry out or contract a third party to carry out monitoring at the site in accordance with monitoring guidance. Soil Association can also provide a quote to undertake both the required site monitoring and the verification check of the site.
- Prepare a Project Progress Report (a ‘mini-PDD-update’ to summarise continuing compliance with the standard), Monitoring Report (to outline monitoring process and results), and the Landowner/Tenant Contact Details Form. Templates are available.
- Submit your Project Progress Report and Monitoring Report to the verification body between 9 and 12 months before the verification due-date
- The verification body will always visit the site at the year 5 verification but will do so on a risk-based approach for subsequent verifications. Monitoring carried out by an independent third party could be less likely to require a field visit. Only a sample of projects within a group would be visited
- Complete any Corrective Actions as specified by the verification body within 1 month if minor/ 12 months if more involved. Corrective Actions will be required if establishment and/or tree growth and carbon sequestration rates do not meet predictions
- Submit proof that Corrective Actions have been completed. This could be, for example, invoices or photographic evidence. A further site visit will not be required. In some instances, where it is going to take longer than 12 months to carry out corrective actions (eg where ongoing deer management is a requirement, or where there are difficulties obtaining suitable stock from nurseries) then the project can be verified ‘subject to Corrective Actions being completed’.
- The verification body shall provide a Verification Statement to the project manager and the Forestry Commission which will be valid for 10 years (slightly different length of validity for older projects). Where a statement is issued subject to corrective actions being completed, the verification body will check that the corrective actions are completed within the planned timescale. Where corrective actions are not completed, the verification body will decide on a case by case basis whether further action or re-issuance of the verification statement is necessary.
- The verification process must then be repeated in 10 years.
In order to update your project and carbon unit status on the UK Woodland Carbon Registry:
- You will need to login to the registry to create an 'issuance' of the relevant number of Woodland Carbon Units for the vintage/time period being checked.
- Your verification body will then upload your Project Progress Report, Monitoring Report and Verification Statement to the UK Woodland Carbon Registry.
- Pending Issuance Units which have been verified will then be converted into verified Woodland Carbon Units at a cost of 3 pence per unit converted.
- Any Pending Issuance Units not delivered will be cancelled. If the project has sequestered more than the number of Pending Issuance Units issued, the project developer will receive extra verified Woodland Carbon Units, at a cost of 3 pence per unit. See Registry Rules of Use.
Verification can take 6-9 months from when you sign a contract with the verifier to converting your carbon units on the UK Woodland Carbon Registry.
Top tips for a smooth verification:
- Give the verifier as much notice as possible
- Make sure your documents are well completed and accurate
- Make sure you submit all the necessary supporting evidence from your field survey (and other documents to support any changes to your project)
- Respond as quickly as possible to requests for further information, clarification or corrective actions
Your verifier will let you know that your project:
- Has submitted all the necessary documents
- Is being sent for audit (and will arrange a date for a site visit if necessary)
- Is being sent for review
- Has passed verification and is ready to be uploaded to the UK Woodland Carbon Registry
The only accepted method for future verifications (from year 15 onwards) is using the Carbon Assessment Protocol. Further documentation will be available shortly. We are also investigating alternative methods of assessing the carbon stock of WCC projects (eg using satellite instruments, airborne lidar, drone instrumentation or other technologies). If these prove cost effective in future, further guidance will be issued.