Pre-historic and historic clearance of our woodland led us to a low point at the beginning of the twentieth century when woodland was only 5% of Britain – and falling. It is now nearly 12% - and rising. Through creating this major new asset, we can be sure of handing on to future generations something better than we inherited. We have put sustainability at the heart of our forestry policies and practices so that we can realise the full potential of our woodlands as economic, environmental and social resources. Where improvement is required, it is our responsibility to guide and encourage the changes – and to fit them into the international commitments that we have made on sustainable forest management.
We hope these pages will help you to:
- understand what we mean by sustainability and explore some of its social, environmental and economic facets;
- learn more about international debate and the UK’s place in it;
- understand the role of the Forestry Commission;
- help us to represent the key issues of sustainability properly at home and abroad.
International concerns about sustainable development were given expression through the 'Earth Summit' in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and were debated again at the WSSD held in Johannesburg in 2002. Forestry was an important topic at Johannesburg and the UK was able to demonstrate that it is among the leaders in developing and implementing standards for sustainable forestry.