The revised UK Forestry Standard and associated Forestry Guidelines have just been released after years of consultation and development. Confor has been involved in the process from the outset and generally welcomes the revisions. The documents set out the statutory framework for forestry, along with best practice guidance.
The UKFS, sometimes dubbed the forester’s bible, is a necessary element of sustainable forest management in the UK. Legal obligations are clearly defined and differentiated from best practice – the latter is generally a condition of receiving grants.
The UKFS had to be revised for a number of reasons, including to strengthen the connections with the Guidelines and to clarify the status of all the documents. In addition, some guidance and interpretation has been “ramped up” for various reasons, including the need to ensure that all wood produced in the UK is deemed “sustainable”, especially for woodfuel to qualify as a sustainable source of renewable energy. There are also two new Guidelines: Forestry and climate change, and Forestry and soils. Other substantive changes and additions are clearly marked – they are not many, but some may find them irksome.
Richard Howe, FC’s standards and certification analyst, said: “The new UKFS and Guidelines give us a robust, succinct and clear set of credentials for the sustainability of forestry practice in the UK. Writing the Standard has been a major project for FC and NI Forest Service, and we are grateful for a great deal of help and advice from a range of organisations.
“The Standard provides a well articulated approach to forest management and helps ensure the forestry sector remains in the lead in terms of its commitment to sustainability. Inevitably, writing the Standard means finding a balance between commercial, environmental and social objectives, but it puts us in a very good position for meeting new challenges, in particular climate change, woodland expansion, woodfuel, and ensuring that UK forests produce sustainable produce.
“We should all be proud of this achievement, and we now need to ensure the UKFS is used to our best advantage.”