The concept of sustainable forest management implies the stewardship of forests to ensure that the products and environmental services they provide are available for future generations. International agreements and national policies require foresters to demonstrate that their forestry practices meet independent criteria of sustainability. In Britain, as elsewhere, the increasing emphasis upon sustainability has led to the promotion of ‘multiple-use’ management which generally means developing varied forests containing stands of different species, ages and structures.
The UK Forestry Standard sets out the criteria and standards for the sustainable management of all forests in the UK. It is the centrepiece of a system to guide and monitor forestry.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has an international forest management standard including economic, social and environmental criteria. The United Kingdom Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) is the FSC endorsed forest management standard for the UK. The Forestry Commission's management of the public forest estate is audited against the UKWAS.
The PEFC Council (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, founded in 1999 which promotes sustainably managed forests through independent third party certification. The PEFC provides an assurance mechanism to purchasers of wood and paper products that they are promoting the sustainable management of forests.