The UK Woodland Assurance Standard
In the late 1990s UK Government bodies worked in partnership with a broad group of organisations representing environmental, economic and social interest to develop the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS). The UKWAS standard was first published in 2000, with its third edition in 2012 following extensive stakeholder consultation. It provides a common audit standard for independent certification that woodlands in the UK are in sustainable management.
The UKWAS standard is complementary to the Government’s own standard of sustainable forest management, the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS), which links together all the technical guidelines that are used as the basis for regulation and provision of grant aid.
Certification schemes in the UK
The UKWAS standard is used as the basis for the two accredited forest certification schemes operating in the UK: the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC UK) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC UK). Certification to one or both of these schemes assures the buyers and users of wood and wood products that they come from sustainably managed woodlands.
The UKWAS standard means that woodlands in the UK can be dual-certified, providing a degree of flexibility to forest owners, growers, producers and customers.
The woodlands that Natural Resources Wales manage on behalf of Welsh Ministers have proudly carried the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) “stamp of approval” since November 1999 and that of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) scheme since February 2010. Having dual-certification status means that we can supply our timber as either FSC® or PEFC certified. We are the largest timber supplier with dual-certification status in Wales.
Sustainable forest management
FSC/PEFC certification for sustainable forest management means that our forests supply responsibly produced wood and venison. The management of all our land is done in such a way as to maintain biodiversity and natural ecological processes, as well as being socially and economically beneficial.
We have put sustainability at the heart of our forestry practices so that we can realise the full potential of our woodlands. Where improvement is required, it is our responsibility to guide and encourage the changes and to ensure that these fit with the international commitments we have made on sustainable forest management.
Find out more about our timber purchasing policy for wood and wood products that we buy and use in our offices, and for the land we manage, by following the link.
Buying certified wood products
Looking out for the FSC or PEFC logo allows you to make a decision about the products that you buy, being confident that they are sustainable. The best way to ensure that your timber comes from a sustainable source is to use an independently certified supplier, or to persuade your suppliers to obtain certification. Simply asking suppliers whether or not they use certified timber can have an impact. Find out more by following the links.
By choosing certified wood products you are also helping to lock away carbon, thus helping reduce the impact of greenhouse gasses on the world’s climate. Find out more by visiting our climate change pages.
International certification schemes
Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET) have confirmed through DEFRA that four certification schemes demonstrate that timber and wood products come from legal and sustainable sources. These are:
- Forest Stewardship Council
- Canadian Standards Association
- Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes
- North American Sustainable Forest Initiative
UK Government policy is to treat these four schemes as equivalent when purchasing timber and wood products.
If you would like to contact the Sustainable Forest Management Team in Natural Resources Wales you can send your enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org
The forests we manage as part of the Welsh Government’s Woodland Estate are certified to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The National Nature Reserves we manage (including woodland on these reserves) are not certified. Some of our visitor information leaflets use a non-compliant FSC trademark and some of these leaflets may also imply that our National Nature Reserves are certified. Our certification body are aware of this error and have agreed we may use up stocks of these leaflets to avoid wasting them.
Our licence code is FSC – C115912.