Skip to main content
Contact Us


This chapter contains information on:

  • carbon in forests;
  • carbon sequestration;
  • the Woodland Carbon Code; and
  • public attitudes to forestry and climate change.

Estimates for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are included, where possible, in addition to UK totals. International comparisons of carbon stocks are provided in the International Forestry chapter. Further information on the data sources and methodology used to compile the figures is provided in the Sources chapter.

All of the statistics presented in this chapter have been previously released.

A copy of all carbon tables can be accessed in spreadsheet format from the Data Downloads page.

In addition to the statistics presented here, information on UK forests and climate change is available from Combating Climate Change: a role for UK forests (The Read Report), an independent assessment of the science published in November 2009.

Key findings

The main findings are:

  • The total carbon stock in UK forests is estimated to have increased, from around 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 1990 to 4.0 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020, of which 2.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent are in soils, 0.9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent are in living woody biomass and the remainder is in deadwood and litter.
  • Around one half (51%) of the total UK forest carbon stock in 2020 is in Scotland (2.0 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent), 36% in England (1.5 billion tonnes), 8% in Wales (0.3 billion tonnes) and 4% in Northern Ireland (0.2 billion tonnes).
  • The net annual rate of carbon dioxide accumulation by UK forests is projected to fall from around 18 million tonnes CO2 in total in 2020 to around 10 million tonnes CO2 by 2040.
  • A total of 451 projects had been validated to the Woodland Carbon Code in the UK at 31 March 2023, covering over 24 thousand hectares and projected to sequester 8.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over their lifetime.
  • Around four fifths (7.1 million tonnes) of projected carbon dioxide sequestration by Woodland Carbon Code projects is in Scotland, 1.2 million tonnes in England, 0.3 million tonnes in Wales and 11 thousand tonnes in Northern Ireland.


Chapter 4 - Carbon

PDF, 0.32 MB

Chapter 4 in PDF format

Dataset: Chapter 4 - Carbon


Chapter 4 data set in OpenDocument Spreadsheet format

Methodology: Chapter 4 – Carbon

PDF, 0.12 MB

Methodology and data sources for Chapter 4

Tools & Resources
In this section
Tools & Resources