UK reforestation projects: 25 case studies?

This data-file reviews 25 examples of forestation projects in the United Kingdom, which have followed the UK Woodland Carbon Code.

Our conclusion is that the projects are high-quality. They are largely ‘incremental’ in the sense that most are situated on abandoned or marginal grazing land. They are conservative, mostly placing c20% of expected CO2 credits into a buffer account.

Many also cite co-benefits providing habitats for wildlife (in some cases, plans are quite detailed), recreational enjoyment, tourism, intercepting flood-water and creating employment.

Our conclusion remains that you have to somewhat ‘hate nature’ to not want more reforestation projects like these on a sensible roadmap to net zero.

Another key to the data-file is to plot the typical distribution of parameters such as project size, CO2 uptake (per acre), intended life-span, species diversity, prior land use, intended use of wood, buffer reserves and other forestry practices (charts below).

Forest carbon: biodiversity impacts productivity?

The purpose of this data-file is to estimate the impacts of bio-diversity on carbon absorption in forests. We have done this by reviewing ten technical papers.

The average result in global meta-studies is that bio-diverse forests take up 15-25% more CO2 than mono-culture counterparts.

The best studies found that highly bio-diverse restoration projects can take up 50-70% more CO2, which was also correlated with the total number of species in a classic ‘log’ relationship.

Full details of individual studies, and our notes, follow in the data-file.

Nature based CO2 removals: theory of evolution?

Learning curves and cost deflation are widely assumed in new energies but overlooked for nature-based CO2 removals. This 15-page note finds the CO2 uptake of well-run reforestation projects could double again from here. Support for NBS has already stepped up sharply in 2021. Beneficiaries include the supply chain, leading projects and some energy companies.

Photo opp: reforestation, CO2 fertilization and global temperatures?

Well-crafted afforestation and reforestation projects may be able to absorb atmospheric CO2 25% more rapidly than in the past, by aligning species and site selection with the world’s changing climate and plant bio-chemistry.

Less well optimized projects may be leaving money on the table, especially if the drawbacks of warming climates outweigh the benefits or CO2 fertilization. This note and data-file outlines the science and its implications, which we will be taking into account at our own reforestation project (link below).

The purpose of this note and data-file is to outline the biochemistry of CO2 fertilization, temperatures and photo-respiration, tabulate technical  papers that have measured these issues, and compile other technical data for assessing this photosynthesis-related opportunity.

Global reforestation potential by country?

The purpose of this data-file is to estimate the ‘reforestation potential’ by country, across 170 countries globally, based on their climate, total area available, risk levels and economic costs.

These factors are cross-plotted on the chart above. Variables we tabulated and considered included land area, coast line, current forest cover, historical forest loss, rainfall, temperature ranges, population, population density, ease of doing business, corruption perceptions, income per capita and land costs.

A caveat: clearly these different variables are broad-brush, if they are meant to reflect entire countries in a single summary number, in some cases we have had to make best-estimates, and the variables also need to be weighted together, but we have taken a stab at a ranking.

Our conclusion is that many of the most attractive geographies to reforest will require navigating a somewhat challenging business climate. There are outlier countries in the developed world that also have excellent potential. Our note quantifying total realistic reforestation potential is here.

Carbon stocks: measuring the forest from the trees?

Measuring forest carbon is uncertain. Pessimistically, estimation errors could be as high as 25%. So does this disqualify nature based carbon credits? This 12-page note explores solutions, borrowing risk-pricing from credit markets, preferring bio-diversity and looking to drone/LiDAR technology.

Allometry: how much CO2 in a tree or forest?

This data-file contains cleaned-up allometry equations to quantify the amount of CO2 captured by a tree, based on its height and its diameter at 1.3m height (DBH).

Covered in the data-file are six of the most important tree species in Europe: aspen, alder, birch, oak, pine and spruce.

Variations are also noted in the data-file, in order to quantify the ‘error of the estimate’ when measuring forest carbon.