Guiding Light – “UK Forestry Standard”

Guiding Light – “UK Forestry Standard”

Richard Howe MICFor is Policy Advisor for Forestry Commission (GB) based at Silvan House in Edinburgh. He has led the project to produce the new UK Forestry Standard and supporting guidelines. Endorsed by all the forestry ministers of the UK, these were published by the Forestry Commission in November this year. We talked to Richard to talk about the purpose of the UKFS and its implications for forestry professionals across the UK.

UK Forestry Standard (PDF)

What is the aim of the UK Forestry Standard?

It essentially aims to do two things: first, it takes the international criteria and principles for sustainable forest management that the UK is committed to and articulates them in the context of UK forestry. Second, it sets a performance standard for the sector and ensures that, by meeting it, forestry proposals can be approved and sustainable forest management can be delivered. Knowing that forest and timber products come from sustainable sources is increasingly important to the industry.

So, it’s obviously aimed specifically at forestry professionals?

Yes, in terms of its target audience, it’s certainly forestry professionals, both Forestry Commission people themselves, as our own forests will operate according to this, and the private sector. But it is also the reference for anyone interested in or commenting on forestry proposals – the public, consultees and NGOs. In this respect, we have obviously had to strike a balance in places between the various interests, so I am sure that not everyone will agree with all of it – but nonetheless it defines a clear approach to the business of forestry in the UK.

What about small woodlands owners who are not qualified as forestry professionals? One imagines that they should adhere to these guidelines more than anyone?

Yes. Let’s assume that people want to “do the right thing” and manage their forests well and sustainably; then this will help them in three ways:

First of all, it details all legal requirements relating to woodland management, which people need to know about to avoid the danger of committing offences. It puts all those legal requirements into one place.

Second, it goes a bit further in terms of defining what good forestry practice is, through detailing a second set of requirements. And, thirdly, it provides guidelines and advice on how to meet these requirements set out under the various elements of forest management – such as biodiversity.

So the series should help those who do not have forestry expertise, and it applies to forests managed for all sorts of different objectives and at a range of scales of operation. However, there is an emphasis on forest planning and, frankly, this does require the sort of professional expertise that the ICF promotes. I feel the new versions will serve as a useful base-line and reference for the sector and anyone wanting to practise forestry in the UK.

The UKFS itself provides the capstone that links all the Guideline documents together, summarises the contents and succinctly puts everything into one place.

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