The United Kingdom Forestry Standard (UKFS) is the reference standard for sustainable
forest management in the UK. The UKFS, supported by its series of Guidelines, outlines
the context for forestry in the UK, 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, principally to reflect the devolution of forestry powers to Scotland and Wales. This third edition, together with the
2011 editions of the supporting series of Guidelines, has been produced to:
• provide an explicit statement of UKFS Requirements for sustainable forest management in line with statements for other land uses supported by EU rural development measures;
• ensure that the UKFS and its supporting Guidelines form an integrated whole by linking the UKFS Requirements through to the different elements of sustainable forest management;
• clarify the status of the UKFS, and the assurances provided by meeting the Requirements through the regulatory process;
• strengthen the role of forest planning;
• incorporate recent developments in legislation, international agreements, and the way forestry activity is monitored and reported;
• incorporate recent advances in the scientific understanding of forestry;
• include national and international initiatives on climate change and the role forests can play in mitigation and adaptation.
The UKFS ‘Standard Notes’, which gave detailed guidance on forestry practice in the first and second editions, have been superseded by the new editions of the Guidelines.
The UKFS and Guidelines have been developed by the Forestry Commission in Great Britain and the Forest Service, an agency within the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland, through an open and consensual process in accordance with government guidance. This has involved many intereste parties and the general public in a formal consultation. The UKFS and Guidelines have been endorsed by the UK and country governments and apply 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 and Guidelines are the Forestry Commission in Great Britain and the Forest Service in Northern Ireland. 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 (NGOs), charities and trusts.