We love curiosity almost as much as trees. Ask us anything and we're happy to give the breakdown.

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Why a Carbon Community?

The Carbon Community fills the gap between trees – science and people. Many people want to help combat the climate emergency, and planting trees is arguably the best nature-based solution there is today. But which trees to plant, and how, in order to maximize carbon removal from the air?
This is where the science comes in – The Carbon Community is dedicated to creating forests and accelerating carbon removal, with breakthrough science. Its planting and restoration projects are designed, in partnership with world leading scientists, to learn more about how to accelerate and enhance carbon sequestration. It is committed to sharing its findings as widely as possible to increase carbon sequestration in its own projects and beyond.

But in order to really make an impact, we also need to involve communities because fundamentally we all need to change our behaviour and reduce our CO2 emissions. The Carbon Community helps to educate young people about environmental issues, enables people to get involved in tree planting, and runs Citizen Science programmes where you can contribute personally to the scientific research into carbon sequestration in trees and soil.
Why a science-based charity?

The Carbon community started by asking a simple question: ‘How do you plant trees to maximize carbon recovery from the air?’ It turned out that the answer is not simple – in discussion with leading environmental scientists it became clear that we don’t really know the answer.

It also became clear that environmental scientists have carbon sequestration projects running successfully in the lab, but there’s great difficulty in scaling these up with field trials. There is a chronic shortage of test sites where environmental scientists can run field trials, without which promising techniques languish in the lab, and don’t get deployed at scale.

As a result, the Carbon Community created a facility at The Glandwr Forest to enable environmental scientists to test out the latest science on a large scale. This test grid comprises 72 test cells across a 28-acre part of the Glandwr Forest containing more than 25,000 trees. This is by far the largest and most comprehensive carbon sequestration study in the UK, and of global significance. From discussions with scientists for forest researchers, we expect this facility to be used for many scientific studies for decades to come. Much of environmental science relies on consistent, careful measurements over time, and the charity structure ensures that this facility will be there for generations to come.

Who are your scientific partners?

The Carbon Community is guided by its Scientific Advisory Board which is constituted from and international panel of some of the world’s leading environmental scientists.

We work closely with many organizations, including Universities, research institutions, environmental charities and local and national Government.
Our first carbon sequestration study partners are:
ETH Zürich Crowther Lab
Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Sheffield
The Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London

In addition there is a separate study focused on tree survival being conducted by Bangor University.
We work closely with Swansea University, with material jointly developed incorporated into undergraduate study modules and field trips.

How is carbon stored in soil?

Image credit: Imperial College and Forest Research, 2020
In a mature forest, more than 75% of the carbon is stored below ground in the roots and soil. This is one of the primary reasons why we need to study the science of carbon sequestration – to measure carbon both in the tree and in the ground as a whole, and test different nature-based techniques of accelerating these processes. The process of storing carbon in the ground is complex, and relies on biodiversity and collaboration between tree and fungi in the soil. Soil provides nutrients and water essential for trees to survive and thrive. Soil is formed in several different ways: rocks break down through the processes of weathering releasing minerals into the soil. Fungi use acids to accelerate this process, and also break down dead wood and surface litter such as dead animals. This locks both minerals and carbon into the soil, which the fungi share with trees and plants, in return for sugars which the plants generate through photosynthesis.  This complex and collaborative relationship between the tree above ground, and the essential biodiversity belowground illustrates why we cannot look solely at the tree or the soil in isolation: we need to look at tree and soil together.

How is The Carbon Community different from carbon offsetting?

The Carbon Community removes carbon dioxide from the air that has already been emitted. Most carbon offset schemes don't.

One of our primary drivers in creating The Carbon Community was a deep dissatisfaction with carbon offsetting. We subsequently learned that our instincts were right: In 2016 the European Union reviewed carbon offset schemes and concluded that 85% of them "were unlikely to deliver ‘real’ or ‘measurable’ benefits" for the environment. More recently European Union officials have warned that "carbon offsetting schemes may actually increase pollution and UN environmental experts recently called for the 'rich to stop buying credits in exchange for a clean conscience.'"
Carbon offsetting creates two big problems:​

1. An illusion that new carbon is actually captured
2. A sense that 'business as usual can carry on' and that we don't need to reduce emissions


The Carbon Community philosophy is simple:

Measure.

Everyone's carbon footprint is too big. The average in the UK is approximately 10.4 tonnes of CO2 per person. If you fly regularly, it will be many times this.

Reduce.

We all need to reduce our carbon footprints dramatically - to approximately 1/3rd of current levels to stay within the 1.5 degree 'safe' limit for global heating.

Remove.

There is already too much CO2 in the atmosphere and in addition to reducing CO2 emissions we need to remove carbon already in the atmosphere.
The Carbon Community is uniquely focused on removing carbon already in the atmosphere as part of the broader plan to address global heating. It means that we are 100% transparent, all of our carbon is audited so that you know that your donation is going directly to Forests For Carbon.
Why a science-based charity?

Is The Carbon Community a charity?

Yes. The Carbon Community is a UK Registered Charity number 1187231 and formed as a charitable company limited by guarantee, registration number 12273280.
The purpose of the Charity is:

1. to conserve, improve and protect the physical and natural environment for the public benefit by:
1. the creation, promotion and sustainable management of new community forests specifically optimized for maximum carbon sequestration in trees and soil;

2. providing individuals, communities, businesses and other organizations with opportunities to participate in sustainable carbon sequestration projects; and

3. such other means as the Trustee may from time to time decide; and
2. to advance the education of the public in the protection, enhancement and rehabilitation of the environment, in particular but not exclusively in relation to forestation as a means of carbon sequestration, and to promote study and research in such subjects and dissemination of the results of such research and study to the public.

Why is a charity structure so important?

We are a Charity dedicated to creating forests, removing carbon from the atmosphere and supporting breakthrough science. In a charity, assets are locked into the charitable structure, and can only be used for the public benefit, and specifically cannot be used for commercial purposes. This is especially important for forestry based carbon sequestration because of the long term nature of these projects.
Trees will take a minimum 35 years to reach adolescence, and the charity structure ensures that the trees will always be proactively managed to maximize carbon sequestration. By contrast, commercial companies have a duty to maximize shareholder return, leading to conflicts of interest - maximizing shareholder returns may not be in the best interests of the environment. The Carbon Community has been established in such a way so that these conflicts of interest cannot arise: the mission is solely focused on doing what is best for the environment and for the public benefit.

Can you really accelerate carbon sequestration?

We believe that the latest carbon science will allow us to accelerate carbon sequestration. The Carbon Community is working with some of the world's leading environmental scientists on a landmark reforestation project to better understand carbon sequestration in trees and soil.
We are applying scientific techniques that are proven to increase carbon sequestration in the laboratory but not yet proven at scale in real world applications. These techniques are 100% natural: what kind of trees, how they are planted and nurtured, especially in the first critical years of their lives. Our goal is to harness this knowledge to maximize carbon sequestration in new forests that we create.

Which type of trees sequester the most carbon?

Faster growing trees sequester more carbon above ground more quickly over the short term, but this is a surprisingly complex question. The simplistic answer is that 80% of a tree's mass is carbon, and therefore, faster growing trees sequester more carbon because they grow faster. Click to learn more about the complexity of how tree type affects carbon capture ability.
Common UK tree types are compared in the table below, which shows carbon sequestered (in tonnes of CO2 equivalent per hectare) over time shown in years (five year increments):
Source: The Carbon Community, based on data from Forest Research (part of the UK Forestry Commission).
This would tend to lead you to conclude that spruce trees sequester carbon faster than any other tree. Sitka Spruce, for example, sequesters up to 60% more carbon compared with an oak tree in the early years, but the oak tree begins to catch up over time, and the oak can last for 1,000 years, locking carbon away for many lifetimes.

This also only looks at what is happening with carbon above ground. In mature forests, 75% of the stored carbon is held in the soil, and the sequestration rates in the official Forest Research tables only give a nod to soil carbon. This is an area that The Carbon Community is currently researching to scientifically measure carbon sequestration in both tree and soil.

We also need to consider biodiversity - planting mono cultures (large blocks of one species of tree) do little to help all of the other inhabitants of a healthy forest, such as fungi, bacteria, protozoa, arthropods, earthworms and small mammals that all contribute to forest growth and the complex process of breaking down organic matter into humus and capturing carbon in the process. Birds and insects also help to pollinate trees and help the forest to grow faster.
Learn about the carbon cycle

What types of tree does The Carbon Community plant?

Our aim at The Carbon Community is to plant the best mix of trees for a given location to maximize carbon sequestration and promote biodiversity. Our focus is on native broadleaf species including fast growing birch, aspen, rowan, and cherry; as well as slower growing species such as oak and beech.
​In practice this means that we will plant different mixes of tree types in different locations. The key consideration is to plant a site-appropriate mixture which is likely to be more resilient to pests and diseases, focused on carbon sequestration and biodiversity.

Does The Carbon Community own the land on which it plants trees?

The Carbon Community creates new forests on its own land. ​By owning our own land, safely locked into the charity structure for generations to come, we ensure that the trees that we plant will always be there, sequestering carbon.
This is important because it guarantees that the land cannot be used for other purposes in the future, or sold on. If we were to plant on other people's land, there would always be the risk that at some point in the future the land is sold, and the trees cut down. However, if you are a landowner, and you have land that you'd like to use for carbon sequestration, please contact us and we will be happy to explore models that could work.

How is The Carbon Community different from carbon offsetting?

The Carbon Community removes carbon dioxide from the air that has already been emitted. Most carbon offset schemes don't.

One of our primary drivers in creating The Carbon Community was a deep dissatisfaction with carbon offsetting. We subsequently learned that our instincts were right: In 2016 the European Union reviewed carbon offset schemes and concluded that 85% of them "were unlikely to deliver ‘real’ or ‘measurable’ benefits" for the environment. More recently European Union officials have warned that "carbon offsetting schemes may actually increase pollution and UN environmental experts recently called for the 'rich to stop buying credits in exchange for a clean conscience.'"
Carbon offsetting creates two big problems:​

1. An illusion that new carbon is actually captured
2. A sense that 'business as usual can carry on' and that we don't need to reduce emissions


The Carbon Community philosophy is simple:

Measure.

Everyone's carbon footprint is too big. The average in the UK is approximately 10.4 tonnes of CO2 per person. If you fly regularly, it will be many times this.

Reduce.

We all need to reduce our carbon footprints dramatically - to approximately 1/3rd of current levels to stay within the 1.5 degree 'safe' limit for global heating.

Remove.

There is already too much CO2 in the atmosphere and in addition to reducing CO2 emissions we need to remove carbon already in the atmosphere.
The Carbon Community is uniquely focused on removing carbon already in the atmosphere as part of the broader plan to address global heating. It means that we are 100% transparent, all of our carbon is audited so that you know that your donation is going directly to Forests For Carbon.