Based on the few studies that have explored the effects of woodland establishment on low grade arable land, it is likely that planting trees will result in a net gain in soil organic carbon (SOC) over time – a sequestration process, key to mitigating climatic change.

Measuring gains (or potentially losses) of SOC is key to understanding how our woodlands alter the soil beneath them. In time, where gains are measured, it may be possible for landowners to gain additional income through sale of soil carbon units through voluntary standards currently under development.

For a summary of current knowledge on this topic, please see FCF’s technical briefing on soil carbon.

To study the effects of this woodland creation project on soils, Blenheim Estate have conducted a detailed assessment of soil organic carbon (SOC) to establish a baseline across the site. By repeating this methodology in the future, we will be able to gain a better understanding of how planting trees affects soil carbon in this context.


Point samples in the form of soil cores (0-30cm and 30-60cm depth) were taken across the 9 woodland parcels. These samples were analysed by the dry combustion method (DUMAS%) as recommended by the IPCC and FAO to determine soil organic carbon (SOC). Combining these measures with soil bulk density measures allowed SOC to be determined. To correct for the influence of high stone content across this particular site, further samples were taken and analysed for stone content (%).

To extrapolate the soil carbon data, FCF and Blenheim Estate have worked with Ecometric. They have developed a unique artificial intelligence platform informed by ground measures and satellite imagery to extrapolate the soil carbon data across the site.

For more information on Ecometric, please click on the logo to visit their website.

This visionary work by Blenheim Estate to establish a reliable baseline of SOC levels will not only allow total soil carbon stock to be monitored over time, but will provide a unique insight into how soil carbon varies under different woodlands in a variety of conditions.