A new ‘Forest Carbon Tool’ that will allow forest owners calculate how much carbon can be removed in woodlands was launched today (Wednesday, January 13) by Minister of State with responsibility for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett.

The tool was developed by Teagasc with the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and private company FERS (Forestry Environment Research and Services).

Minister Hackett said the tool will be user-friendly and free, and will be aimed at both current and potential forestry owners.

It will help them to predict the potential environmental benefits if they’re considering creating new woodlands. It is extremely versatile and can factor in livestock use on farms in agroforestry systems; to modelling conifers and broadleaves on different land types and soil.

The tool takes account of tree species, age, soil types and other factors before providing an approximation of sequestration rates (based on pre-existing models) between one and 9 tonnes of CO2/ha.

It also takes account of harvested wood products, which means conifer species can return high sequestration rates.

However, the tool provides indicative information only and is not intended to provide definitive estimates on any particular forest.

Prof. Gerry Boyle, the director of Teagasc, said that the tool would “enhance knowledge of the benefits of forests in sequestering carbon”.

Tom Houlihan, a forestry specialist with Teagasc, noted that it is likely that updates and enhancements will be incorporated into future iterations of the tool as new data becomes available.

The Forest Carbon Tool is available on through the Teagasc website.