Updated: Apr 14
Wilder Carbon is a landmark new initiative developed by Kent Wildlife Trust which aims to rapidly scale up native habitat restoration in the UK by leveraging green carbon finance.
Native habitats are vital in the fight against climate change due to their ability to lock up atmospheric carbon. By restoring these ecosystems through ‘wilding’ - the restoration of large areas of degraded landscapes by re-establishing natural processes -there is huge potential to lock-up carbon whilst providing additional benefits to biodiversity and communities such as enhanced flood prevention.
The Wilder Carbon standard ensures that conservation projects delivered under the scheme result in long-term carbon lock-up and real biodiversity gains with an added level of transparency to challenge traditional offsetting. It uses a robust process to identify and verify approved UK carbon buyers seeking high quality carbon credits who are demonstrably reducing their own carbon emissions.
Soil Association Certification, which has decades of experience of certification including the recent Woodland Carbon Code and the Peatland Code, has worked closely with the Kent Wildlife Trust to develop a robust validation and verification process for all Wilder Carbon projects. They rigorously assessed the standards, tools, and procedures to ensure assurance on key issues such as additionality, permanence, and buyer ethicality.
Two pathfinder projects have now been validated by Soil Association Certification under the Wilder Carbon scheme: Somerset Wildlife Trust’s restoration of an 80-hectare site in the Somerset Levels called Honeygar, and Kent Wildlife Trust’s Heather Corrie Vale 50-hectare Golf Course wilding project. The restoration of these projects, funded by carbon finance, will make them wildlife rich and climate resilient, and keep carbon locked up into the future - paving the way for nature’s recover.
Third party assurance is key to delivering high-quality carbon units so buyers can be assured that any scheme they are investing in has been validated and verified to deliver the climate benefits it promises. Approved Buyers of the carbon units from the Honeygar and Heather Corrie Vale projects can have confidence that their investment will result in verifiable carbon sequestration and a genuine and substantial biodiversity uplift. The pilot projects will help improve the data available to the development teams, and to further scale up the impact of the Wilder Carbon model.
This year Wilder Carbon, now established as a legal entity, is mobilising to deploy the solution at scale by positioning its Trusted Deliverers (i.e. other conservation organisations with a track record of long-term land management) and its wider community of practitioners to work with private landowners who want to develop wilding project or integrate Nature Based Solutions into some or all of their management practice. The partnership with Soil Association Certification will be key to this through the design of a Certified training program for Project Developers who want to follow the Wilder Carbon Standard.
Evan Bowen-Jones Managing Director of Wilder Carbon said: “Our goal for Wilder Carbon is ambitious but vital: to provide a recognised standard for the delivery of multi-beneficial nature restoration projects in the UK. It could open the door to scaled-up ‘green investment’ that raises income to restore nature at an unprecedented scale in a secure way”.
“To develop the Wilder Carbon Standard for Nature and Climate, Kent Wildlife Trust has established a group of independent experts from both across the multi-dimensional private-public space around carbon offsetting to develop something truly high integrity. Soil Association Certification have been a key partner in developing a rigorous verification and validation process that objectively confirm that the system as a whole, and specific projects, are going to deliver genuine carbon and nature benefits across multiple carbon-rich habitats. We believe this joined-up approach is what sets the scheme apart and provides much needed market simplicity as well as opportunities for scaled investment.”
Soil Association Certification Senior Certification Manager Andy Grundy said: “Nature-based solutions are vital if society is going to tackle both the climate crisis and catastrophic loss of biodiversity. Schemes like Wilder Carbon that offer multiple benefits to climate, nature and people are going to be pivotal, especially as more businesses want to become part of the solution to tackling these climate and biodiversity emergencies.
“We were delighted to be approached by Wilder Carbon to help them develop a rigorous framework for third-party assurance of the scheme, which draws on high integrity principles for carbon, biodiversity and buyer ethicality. We look forward to working closely with Wilder Carbon following the launch of these pathfinder projects to fine-tune their procedures as they work on scaling up their project portfolio.”
By only allowing the carbon units to finance restoration of native habitat, Wilder Carbon certifies voluntary carbon projects that will have the maximum possible positive impact on nature.
With its high integrity end-to-end process in place, Wilder Carbon expect to match a significant pipeline of projects with buyers to begin realising the huge potential of nature-based carbon removal in the UK across a range of carbon rich multi habitat landscapes.