The Government set out its standard for sustainable forest management in a new publication today (Thursday 3 November 2011).
The UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) is the practice code for forest management, and details the conditions that must be met when felling trees, carrying out woodland operations and receiving grants. It has been developed by the Forestry Commission and the Northern Ireland Forest Service in consultation with a wide range of interests. It applies to all woodland, irrespective of who owns or manages it.
The Standard ensures that international agreements and conventions on topics such as sustainable forest management, climate change, biodiversity and the protection of water resources are robustly applied here in the UK.
For forest managers, the new Standard encapsulates all the various requirements of sustainable forest management, and spells out what they mean in practice. For the first time it includes principles of forest management for carbon benefits, which is a UK Government carbon plan commitment. The UKFS also provides the basis for the new Woodland Carbon Code, which gives assurance that woodland projects for carbon capture provide the benefits claimed for them.
In a written Ministerial Statement to Parliament, Jim Paice, Forestry Minister, said:
“For many years the UK has been at the forefront of international moves to protect the world’s forests. The new Standard here in the UK provides an excellent and up-to-date example of our approach. It is most appropriate that we are doing this in International Year of Forests.
“The Standard will help us strike that vital balance between the economic, social and environmental benefits of forestry. I want to thank all the forestry and environmental organisations who have worked with us to bring it together.”
A comprehensive supporting series of guidelines sets out in detail how the requirements of the Standard can be met. All the Guidelines have been revised, and a new one has been added for Forests and Climate Change. These address forestry practice together with the key aspects of sustainable forest management: biodiversity, climate change, the historic environment, landscape, people, soils and water.
The UK, together with a number of other countries, has introduced requirements to ensure that timber comes from legal and sustainable sources. The new Standard can be used as part of a system to provide the necessary evidence for home-grown timber and so ensure that owners can maintain access to timber markets and can take advantage of new markets for woodfuel.
No new regulations or burdens have been introduced by the revised versions. However, they update the requirements of existing regulations and bring them together in a more accessible way that will help owners to understand and meet them.
Further details about the UKFS and Guidelines, including updates and links to supporting information, can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/ukfs.
Copies are available from Forestry Commission Publications: further details and order information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/publications. PDF files can also be downloaded from the on-line catalogue at this address.
Notes to Editors
- The Forestry Commission's series of environmental guidelines for forestry dates back to 1988 with the publication of the Forests & Water Guidelines. The UK Forestry Standard was first published in 1998, and revised in 2004. The Standard sets out the UK’s approach to sustainable forest management in response to commitments made at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. This third edition clarifies and strengthens the relationship between the Guidelines series and The UK Forestry Standard to improve the consistency of approach. It also defines requirements and guidelines in a more explicit way.
- The UK Forestry Standard plays an important role for independent forest certification in the UK. By defining UK forestry practice, it underpins the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS). This is endorsed by both certification schemes operating in the UK: the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC).
- The series includes the new “UKFS Guidelines on Forests and Climate Change”. This sets out the role that woodland can play in capturing carbon and mitigating the effects of climate change. Examples include providing a sustainable source of wood, which is an alternative to fossil fuels and a less polluting energy source than them, and providing a low-energy construction material.
- The UKFS and Guidelines apply to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Forestry Commission and the Northern Ireland Forest Service will be the main bodies responsible for their implementation. These authorities will assess forestry proposals against the UKFS before approving them, and will carry out sample checks to ensure the UKFS is being complied with. The precise arrangements for its introduction and implementation will vary between the four countries.
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