4. Verification - Ongoing check of carbon sequestered
Verification is the ongoing evaluation of the project against the requirements of the Woodland Carbon Code by a body accredited by the UK Accreditation Service. Verification will assess the carbon sequestration that has actually occurred as well as continuing management to the UK Forestry Standard. At verification, the 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 your most recent validation or verification statement. The first verification shall be completed 5 years after project start date, and then at least every 10 years, unless Self-Assessment is carried out instead. The verification dates are linked to the vintage end dates on the Pending Issuance Units listed at validation.
You should begin the process 18 months before the verification is due. After surveying and submitting your documents, allow 12 months from when you sign a contract with the verifier to converting your carbon units on the UK Land Carbon Registry.
Verifiers are very busy at present. 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
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 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|
Anne Mari Cobb
|T: 01939 291800||T: 0117 914 2435|
The cost of verification is currently £1,600-£2,100 per project, plus extra for travel and subsistence where a site visit is required. The cost of verification of a group can be higher than that for an individual project, however there will be significant per-project savings across the group (eg per project within the group the cost could be £300-£1,000 - plus travel and subsistence - depending on the size of the group. Within a group only a proportion of sites will be visited by the verifier). We recommend getting quotes from both verifiers.
Stage 1. Preparing and submitting documents
Contact a verification body to initiate the verification process ideally 18 months before the verification due-date; start monitoring at this time also (if weather allows).
Ask the verification body to check your survey plan prior to commencing monitoring. See How to Monitor your Project.
Prepare the following documents referring to further guidance on the Woodland Carbon Code.
- From 1 October 2022, you must submit Version 2.2 Project Progress Report to be validated under Version 2.2 of the standard.
You will then agree and sign a contract with Soil Association or Organic Farmers & Growers and as a minimum, the following documents are required (see Template Documents) - other supporting evidence may also be necessary (see PDD for further details):
- Project Progress Report (PPR).
- Full Monitoring Report for each stratum identified in the project (or a Basic Monitoring Report for small projects).
- Photos of the site as a whole and taken at each plot location.
- Map showing plot locations .
- Landowner, Tenant and Agent Contact Details (if any parties have changed since last assessment).
- Landowner/Tenant commitment statement (if any parties have changed).
Stage 2. Project audit
The verifier will audit your project/group against the requirements of the Woodland Carbon Code. The verifier will always visit the site at the year 5 verification for single projects but will do so on a risk-based approach for subsequent verifications. Only a sample of projects within a group would be visited by the verifier. Monitoring carried out by an independent third party could be less likely to require a field visit.
You may be asked for further evidence, or to address some ‘Corrective Actions’. Your validator will usually allow one month to address Corrective Actions that can be completed quickly (e.g. fence repairs), whilst allowing up to one year for changes that are likely to take longer (e.g. beating-up) - except in exceptional circumstances. Corrective Actions will be required if establishment and/or tree growth and carbon sequestration rates do not meet predictions. Proof could be, for example, invoices or photographic evidence. A further site visit will usually not be required.
In some instances, where Corrective Actions are not quickly resolved, then the project can be verified ‘subject to Corrective Actions being completed’, provided a Remedial Plan is provided. If Corrective Actions are not resolved and there is no Remedial Plan, then your project will either be verified with Red status, or not verified at all, depending upon the severity of concern about the project's success.
If your project is established through natural colonisation/regeneration, we do not expect the same level of successful establishment in the early years.
- If the project demonstrates a stocking density of at least 400 stems per hectare at year 5, with no concerns about browsing levels, the next verification will be at year 15 as normal.
- If there are concerns about the rate of colonisation/regeneration, browsing levels or other health issues of the seedlings at year 5 then the verifier may require either:
- Further action to promote establishment such as enhanced deer management, direct seeding or enrichment planting, and/or
- An extra verification at year 10 to confirm continued progress
- The natural colonisation/regeneration site should have achieved the target stocking density within the claimable area by year 15, with acceptable grazing/browsing levels.
- If natural colonisation/regeneration is proving more successful than originally stated, any extra sequestration could be claimed from this point.
- If the project is still not sequestering as fast as predicted, then the carbon prediction for future vintages would also be reviewed at this stage.
Stage 3. Project Review
Your project documentation will be reviewed by a second verifier-reviewer, and checked by WCC Secretariat for consistency/completeness.
If the verification is successful, the verifier will issue a Verification Statement. It will be valid for 10 years (except in exceptional circumstances). The Verification Statement will have a Green-Amber-Red rating.
- Green: This project delivered all carbon units within the current vintage and there are no concerns about the ability of the project to deliver units in future vintages.
- Amber: This project delivered all carbon units within the current vintage, but is verified subject to ongoing corrective actions being completed. Assuming the Remedial Plan to complete these actions is followed, there are no concerns about the ability of the project to deliver units in future vintages.
- Red: This project failed to deliver all carbon units within the current vintage and/or there are concerns about this project’s ability to deliver sufficient units in future vintages.
If your project is classified as 'Green' status from year 15 onwards:
- If your project has sequestered more than predicted, any extra units realised will be issued as verified Woodland Carbon Units.
If your project is classified as 'Red' status at year 5:
- All PIUs from the first vintage will be marked 'Not Delivered'
- The verifier will require your next verification at year 10 rather than year 15
- You will be required to re-assess your carbon prediction and update the WCC Carbon Calculator at year 10 or 15, once the level of establishment is clearer. Any reduction in predicted sequestration will result in PIUs from future vintages will be marked 'Not Delivered'.
If your project is classified as 'Red' status from year 15 onwards:
- If your survey results confirm less carbon is stored onsite than predicted, then any undelivered PIUs will be marked 'Not Delivered'.
- Your next verification will normally be due in 10 years
- You will be required to re-assess your carbon prediction and update the WCC Carbon Calculator. Any reduction in predicted sequestration will result in PIUs from future vintages will be marked 'Not Delivered'.
If there is little or not chance of recovery of the project to deliver carbon in future vintages, the project will not be verified.
Stage 4. Updating the registry and converting Pending Issuance Units (PIUs) to Woodland Carbon Units (WCUs)
In order to update your project and carbon unit status on the UK Land Carbon Registry (see also How to request conversion of PIUs to WCUs on registry (pdf), you should:
- 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 final documents and Verification Statement to the UK Land Carbon Registry.
- S&P Global will invoice you a verification fee including converting your Pending Issuance Units into verified Woodland Carbon Units and issuing any extra Woodland Carbon Units. Upon payment, the units will convert in the account in which they are currently held. Note UK Land Carbon Registry Fees increased on 1 October 2022. Go to fees.
- Any Pending Issuance Units not delivered will be marked 'Not Delivered'. If the project has sequestered more than the number of Pending Issuance Units issued, the project developer will receive extra verified Woodland Carbon Units. See Registry Rules of Use.
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