Research projects

Whole farm carbon framework

Contract Period : 01/10/2023 - 31/03/2024

Main Funder : NatureScot and Heritage Fund (equal funding), through FIRNS: Facility for Investment Ready Nature in Scotland

ORC Staff Contact : Will Simonson

Wakelyns Agroforestry - May 2023

Feasibility assessment for an Aggregated Whole Farm approach to accessing natural capital markets

Project Leaders and Partners

  • Soil Association (project leader)
  • Soil Association Certification Ltd
  • Finance Earth
  • Woodland Trust

Project Aims

This project aims to scope the potential, and provide proof-of-concept, for a whole farm approach to engaging in natural capital markets. Our focus will be on carbon markets, drawing on the results of a recently completed project, funded by NEIRF, that scoped the potential for an agroforestry carbon code. This latter project concluded that, alone, agroforestry may not represent a viable investment opportunity for farmers, but that carbon related funding could be important as part of a blended finance scenario, especially where other carbon assets on farm can be quantified and monetised.

However, farmers face a bewildering away of quality assurance schemes, or “codes”, for carbon, each with their own governance and monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) structures and protocols. There are the established woodland and peatland carbon codes, as well as those in development for hedgerows, soils and potentially agroforestry. What might an aggregated approach, with a single framework for the carbon assets in all biomass and carbon-rich on-farm land covers and habitats, look like?

This will be explored through this development project from the perspectives of finance, carbon modelling and governance. As well as an aggregated approach at farm level, we will also investigate the potential for groups of farms, at landscape level, coming together to market their carbon through a single initiative.

The project is a desk-based but will trial its framework on three example farms/estates, to make sure its findings and recommendations are ground-truthed.

ORC’s role

ORC will lead the carbon work package of this project, looking at the methods and data requirements for carbon modelling and measurement of existing codes and those under development. We will propose ways to improve these methods and streamline them at the whole farm and multi-farm level whilst retaining the required levels of scientific robustness and market confidence.

Previous relevant work

Agroforestry Carbon Code

ORC Team involved with this project

Principal Researcher, Agroforesty
Senior Agroforestry Researcher
Christian Gossel
Farm Sustainability Researcher