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National forests in the north Highlands and central Scotland will shortly be audited – for the third time - against an internationally recognised forest sustainability standard, which provides a "green" stamp of approval.
A range of forests within different Forestry Commission Scotland Districts are selected every year for audit - and staff only discover if they have been selected shortly before the audit. Districts work hard all year round to ensure that the demanding standards of the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) are upheld, so it is good to have external auditors confirm that they are achieving the required standards.
The UKWAS standard is approved by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) schemes. Maintaining certification will therefore mean that wood and other products from the Forestry Commission Scotland forests can continue to display the international FSC and PEFC logos, which guarantee that they have come from well managed, sustainable forests.
Timber, signs, garden furniture and fencing, panel boards, paper and venison are among the certified goods produced from Forestry Commission Scotland forests.
Tim Cockerill, North Highland District Manager, said:
“In 1999, the Forestry Commission became one of the first state forest services in the world to be awarded FSC certification and the right for its products to display the FSC logo, and that’s a distinction that we intend to honour.
"The standards are tough but we are confident that the way we manage Scotland’s national forests upholds the criteria we will be judged against. A large part of it is about sustainability and managing the whole forest environment so that future generations will enjoy it as much as we do – but there are elements of community involvement and engagement, and how we treat our workforce, too.”
The United Kingdom Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) promotes sustainable forestry through a certification standard that is robust, durable and workable. Criteria assessed include management planning, woodland design, operations, conservation and enhancement of biodiversity. Woodland access and recreation for local communities is also a factor that is audited.
Brent Meakin, Scottish Lowlands District Manger, said:
“Meeting the various demands of visitors, biodiversity and timber production can be a delicate balancing act, but it’s something we have done for decades – and is something we do well.
“Together with colleagues across Scotland, our local teams work hard to maintain the high standards of forest management that allow us to deliver a range of benefits to people, communities, biodiversity and the economy. Having that officially recognised is a real feather in the cap.”
The UKWAS certification standard was developed by the whole community of forestry interests in the UK, including commercial, environmental, government and community interests, and is managed by an independent multi-stakeholder partnership.
1) Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate, managing, enhancing and expanding the 660,000 hectare national forest estate in ways that deliver benefits to Scotland’s people, communities, biodiversity and economy. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland
2) The UKWAS standard conforms to the requirements of the governmental UK Forestry Standard and those of the two leading international certification schemes: the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC). The certification standard is revised every five years and a draft third edition is currently being assessed by FSC and PEFC. For more information visit www.ukwas.org.uk