Three ways for landowners to get involved in UK carbon markets

The natural capital and carbon market opportunity

As the fight against climate change finally starts gathering momentum, the farming sector has huge potential to be a part of the solution. Farmers’ land already absorbs and stores carbon emissions.

Many farmers are now looking at how their land can capture more. By planting trees or changing farming practices, and then registering their projects with certified schemes, farmers can carbon offset credits. These credits can be used to bolster their own sustainability credentials, or they can be sold to other businesses. The schemes currently cover three areas – woodland, peatland and soil.

TREES – How to create and sell woodland carbon offset credits

Landowners can receive both grants and carbon offset funding for planting new trees. Grants differ across each of the home nations, more info here, but typically cover all costs associated with the planting of new trees. In England, there are additional payments for projects with greater biodiversity, flooding, water quality & access benefits. There is also a leasehold scheme for projects over 50 hectares.

On top of this grant funding, you can receive tonnes of carbon for your woodland. All projects must be validated and verified to the UK Woodland Carbon Code. A native woodland typically delivers around 400 tonnes of carbon/hectare over the project’s lifetime (up to 100 years). At £20 per tonne, this would generate £8,000 per hectare. Project developers, such as Forest Carbon, offer support in creating and registering woodland projects.

Smaller projects (1-3 hectares) can use project developers to group schemes or may want to look at the biodiversity net gain route. This new market involves being paid by property developers who are compensating for the loss of habitat on their own sites. The Green Offset is a good starting point for landowners interested in this route.

PEAT – How to create and sell peatland carbon offset credits

Peatland is an important habitat and its degradation accounts for 4% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. The opportunity for those looking to restore peatland is similar to tree planting. Grants across England, Scotland and Wales will typically cover the initial cost of the work and carbon credits provide additional revenue.

To claim carbon offset credits, all projects need to be registered with the IUCN UK Peatland Carbon Code. Projects can deliver 250+ tonnes/hectare over their lifetime. The market price is changing rapidly and is currently similar to woodland (£20-25 per tonne). Landowners can work with project developers such as Caledonian Climate and Forest Carbon to help manage their project.

SOIL- How to create and sell soil carbon credits

Soil carbon is more complicated because there is no government-backed standard to guide the market. The theory is that changed land use or certain land practices can lead to carbon being sequestered and securely stored in the soil. The science behind this is rapidly evolving and there remain concerns about how real and permanent the carbon storage is.

The uncertain science has not stopped people from selling soil carbon today. The market is more established in the US, where Nori and Indigo Ag are selling carbon at $15-20/tonne, and in Australia, where there is a government soil carbon scheme. In the UK, a series of private standards have recently been launched, including Gentle Farming, Soil Capital and Soil Heroes.

Farms will have to make their own decisions about whether now is the right time to jump onto these emerging schemes.

What is the best way for landowners to sell carbon offset credits?

Landowners have typically sold their carbon offset credits via brokers, who then sell the credits on to businesses or individuals. Zellar’s model is different. We give suppliers of carbon offsets the chance to sell their carbon offsets directly to businesses. Our peer-to-peer marketplace aims to make selling carbon credits more accessible and maximise the return for the project owner. This blog ‘How to buy and sell carbon offset projects’shares more on how it all works



 Register your project – UK Woodland Carbon Code

Woodland creation | Forestry England

Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme – GOV.UK (

Peatland ACTION – Fund – How to apply | NatureScot

Natural Resources Wales / National Peatland Action Programme 2020-2025

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