The UK Forestry Standard
The United Kingdom Forestry Standard (UKFS) is the reference standard for sustainable forest management in the UK. It outlines the context for forestry, sets out the approach of the UK governments to sustainable forest management, defines standards and requirements, and provides a basis for regulation and monitoring – including national and international reporting.
The UKFS approach is based on applying criteria agreed at international and European levels to forest management in the UK. However, because the history of forestry and the nature of the woodlands in the UK differ in fundamental ways from those of other European countries, a main purpose of the UKFS is to demonstrate that these agreements are applied in an appropriate way to the management of UK forests and woodlands.
The UKFS was first published in 1998 and revised in 2004 and 2011. This fourth edition, which now incorporates the previously separate supporting series of Guidelines, has been produced to:
- update relevant legislation and other regulatory requirements;
- update organisational details and mandates of the forestry authorities;
- reflect key policy changes arising from the increased devolution of forestry;
- incorporate recent developments in international agreements, and the way forestry activity is monitored and reported;
- incorporate recent advances in the scientific understanding of forestry;
- further strengthen the role of forest planning.
The UKFS has been developed by the forestry authorities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, through an open and consensual process in accordance with government guidance. This has involved many interested parties and the general public in a formal consultation.
The UKFS has been endorsed by the UK and country governments and applies to all UK forests and woodlands. Together with the national forestry policies and strategies of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the UKFS provides a framework for the delivery of international agreements on sustainable forest management, alongside policies on implementation.
The standards for the planning, design and sustainable management of forests and woodlands in the UK use an approach based on internationally recognised science and best practice. The UKFS is the basis of forestry practice for the independent UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS), which is used for voluntary independent certification. It can also be used for assessing compliance as part of an environmental management system such as ISO 14001.
By meeting the Requirements of the UKFS, forest and woodland owners, managers and practitioners can demonstrate that forestry operations and activities are both legal and sustainable. The main bodies responsible for the regulation and monitoring of the UKFS are the Forestry Commission in England and Scotland, Natural Resources Wales, and the Forest Service in Northern Ireland (the ‘forestry authorities’).
The UKFS is relevant to all those with an interest in UK forests and woodlands, particularly owners, managers and practitioners, and all organisations with responsibilities for forests and woodlands – including government agencies, local authorities, non-governmental organisations, charities and trusts.