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The Forestry Commission has adopted dual certification for the management of its 750,000 hectares of forests and woodland in Great Britain.
This will give sellers of timber and other forest products supplied directly from Forestry Commission forests the option of displaying the logo of PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes) or the logo of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). These logos provide an assurance that the products originate from well managed forests.
The Commission has used FSC certification since 1999, when it became the first state forest service in the world to achieve certification of its entire forest holding.
Explaining the decision, Richard Howe, Certification and Standards Advisor for the Forestry Commission, said
"FSC certification has served us well for 11 years. It is used by most of the major buyers of our forest products, and we shall continue to use it.
"In common with other enterprises selling timber across Europe, we are aware that a number of buyers of timber and other forest products are looking for PEFC certification and, in some cases, both PEFC and FSC certification. This is particularly so in the case of overseas buyers of UK timber, and we would like to have the flexibility to meet the needs of all of our customers.
"Both schemes use the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) as the basis for certification in the UK, and both are recognised by the Government's Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET) as providing suitable evidence of legality and sustainability for public-sector timber procurement purposes."
The Forestry Commission received PEFC certification for the first time on 9 March 2010.
For further information visit www.forestry.gov.uk, www.pefc.co.uk and www.fsc-uk.org. For further information about CPET, visit www.cpet.org.uk.
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- The Forestry Commission is the government department for forestry in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). It is the largest single forest manager and timber producer in the UK, managing approximately 1,000,000 hectares of publicly owned forest, woodland and other land, and producing almost 5 million tonnes of timber a year.
- The Forestry Commission facilitated the development of certification in the UK in 1999 through the multi-stakeholder UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) partnership. The UKWAS standard combined the UK Government’s requirements for sustainable forestry, set out in the UK Forestry Standard, with the Forest Stewardship Council’s Principles & Criteria for Forest Stewardship into an audit protocol, or certification standard. This paved the way for FSC endorsement of the UKWAS standard and the advent of a practical route to independent timber certification in the UK.
- Independent certification of forest management was begun in the 1990s by a number of voluntary environmental and social groups. It was begun in response to public and consumer concern that some forest products on the market came from forests that were unsustainably or badly managed. A number of large retailers of timber and other forest products began to demand certified timber, initially mainly FSC, as a condition of their buying forest products. Other certification schemes, such as PEFC, have since been established and are similarly in demand as providing evidence to business and consumers that the forest products they use emanate from well managed forests. About 8 per cent of the world's forests are now certified. In the UK, PEFC and FSC both use the UKWAS forest management standard as the basis for forest certification.
- PEFC is a global umbrella organisation for the assessment and mutual recognition of national forest certification schemes around the world. These national schemes build upon the inter-governmental processes for the promotion of sustainable forest management. About 220 million hectares around the world are certified under the PEFC scheme, accounting for two-thirds of the world’s total area of certified forest.
- The decision whether to apply for certification is a voluntary one made by forest owners and managers, and the inspection process, or audit, is funded by the owner or manager. The audit covers factors including sustainability of the timber resource, environmental protection, including water and soil conservation and pollution prevention, wildlife conservation, the use and management of chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, oils and fuels, health and safety, and the interests of local communities. Approximately 80 per cent of UK timber production is currently certified.
- The government requirements for forest management in the United Kingdom are set out in the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) (which is currently being revised – see www.forestry.gov.uk/newsrele.nsf/AllByUNID/2650D5F9E9582A8F802575E60059B057). This defines the approach of the UK, Scottish and Welsh Assembly Governments and the Northern Ireland Assembly to sustainable forest management in the UK, through the issue of felling licences, approval of forest plans, and the payment of grants. Because the UKWAS standard is largely based on the UK Forestry Standard, compliance with government requirements goes a long way towards the standard of management required for certification.
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