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 12 months before the verification is due. After surveying and submitting your documents, allow 6-9 months from when you sign a contract with the verifier to converting your carbon units on the UK Land 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 Land Carbon Registry
Start preparing for verification 12 months prior to your verification due-date. You should conduct a plot-based survey of your project using the WCC survey protocol and record results in the relevant Monitoring Report. This contains both plot sheets (to print or use online in the field) and a summary page. See How to Monitor your Project.
If you submit your documents for verification after 1 July 2021, you should submit everything on Version 2.1. 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
- 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
- Landowner, Tenant and Agent Contact Details (if any parties have changed since last assessment)
- An updated map if necessary
Note: If you submitted your documents to the verifier and your contract with the verifier was signed prior to 30 June 2021, then your validation can continue on Version 2.0 documents.
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 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; start monitoring at this time also (if weather allows).
- Ask the verification body to check your survey plan prior to commencing monitoring.
- Carry out the site survey or ask someone to do this for you, in accordance with monitoring guidance. Soil Association can also provide a quote to undertake site monitoring as well as the verification check of the site.
- Prepare a Project Progress Report, Full or Basic Monitoring Report, and the Landowner, Tenant and Agent Contact Details form. Templates are available. The Basic Monitoring report is for projects who used the Small Project Carbon Calculator Only.
- Submit your Project Progress Report and Full or Basic 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 specified by the verification body and submit proof 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. Proof 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 (e.g. 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’.
- 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.
- The verification body will issue a Verification Statement. It will be valid for 10 years (slightly different length of validity for older projects). The Verification Statement will have a Red-Amber-Green rating.
- Green: This project delivered within the current vintage and there are no concerns about the ability of the project to deliver in future
- Amber: This project delivered within the current vintage, but is verified subject to ongoing corrective actions being completed. Assuming the plan to complete these actions is followed, there are no concerns about the ability of the project to deliver in future.
- 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.
- The verification process must then be repeated at least every 10 years, in line with the 'vintages'/ monitoring periods agreed at validation.
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):
- 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.
- IHS Markit will invoice you 3 pence per unit converted to convert your Pending Issuance Units into verified Woodland Carbon Units.
- 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.
Next: Find out how to sell your carbon units