Friends of the Earth recently published a very useful study about finding the land to double UK tree cover from 6% to 13%. This study made a very important point about woodlands, that not all new woodland creation projects are alike, rather they fall into two distinct types, amenity woodlands, and carbon capture forests:
There are many well-known social benefits to greening urban areas including physical and mental health, providing shade, and countering air pollution. Simply being able to take your dog for a walk in the woods or kicking leaves in autumn with children are great social outings, but to be able to utilize these effectively they need to be close to centres of population.
Amenity woodlands are also likely to be planted with open recreational spaces, easy access and facilities for visitors often focused solely on native broadleaf tree species.
By contrast carbon capture forests are solely focused on carbon capture. They are usually based on low-grade rough pasture and cropland that was formerly used for livestock feed. Economics come into play here when thinking about location: land close to centres of population tends to be much more expensive than land in more remote areas, sometimes by a factor of five or more. So the question rapidly comes up: is it better to plant significantly fewer trees close to centres of population, or five times more trees in more remote areas? For maximum carbon capture, the answer is to plant the maximum number of trees possible, in order to capture the maximum amount of CO2.
The Carbon Community believes that all types of woodland are a good thing for both people and the environment. Our focus though is on capturing CO2 at scale, and therefore our new forest creation projects tend to be large scale planting projects, optimized for carbon capture.