The potential for agroforestry to reduce net GHG emissions in Scotland through the Woodland Carbon Code

Creating woodlands and targets for planting trees are important parts of the Climate Change Plan update to contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets.

Agroforestry combines trees and agriculture on the same plot of land, with tree density varying dependent on agricultural land type, tree species and objective. There has been growing interest in agroforestry systems as an opportunity to integrate land management objectives and contribute to meeting tree planting targets and generate GHG reductions and removals. However, currently a very small proportion (3.3%) of the area used for agriculture in the UK is managed as agroforestry. Carbon schemes, such as the Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) could offer a potential route to provide financial support and incentivise agroforestry.

This reports assesses the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through different forms of agroforestry. 

It finds that all forms of agroforestry have the potential to sequester carbon, although the benefits will vary depending on soil type, species, planting density and location.

The research suggests that the fastest rate of carbon sequestration is most likely to be achieved on highly productive lowland areas. Whilst benefits can also accrue on less productive uplands, avoiding disturbance of organic soil layers is a key consideration.