The UK Woodland Assurance Standard is an independent
certification standard for verifying sustainable woodland
management in the United Kingdom.
Welcome to the UKWAS website in which we aim to provide all the information you need to understand how to use the UK Woodland Assurance Standard.
The UKWAS standard is an independent certification standard for verifying sustainable woodland management in the United Kingdom; it is not a certification scheme but, uniquely, it is designed as a single national certification standard for common use by international forest certification schemes operating in the UK.
Rather than work within the constraints of a single certification scheme, the UK’s forestry sector and its stakeholders chose to develop and publish an independent certification standard as the best way to define appropriate and effective woodland management in the UK context.
It was developed on a consensus basis through an inclusive multi-stakeholder process with a balanced representation of economic, environmental and social interests. The launch of the standard in 1999 was a landmark event for forestry in
the UK and cemented a strong partnership between the organizations and individuals involved.
The success of the unique UKWAS approach is clear as the UKWAS standard is currently the central component of the forest certification programmes operated in the UK by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).The working relationships between the UKWAS Steering Group and FSC UK and PEFC UK are set out in concordats clarifying each party’s role and responsibilities.
These two leading global schemes provide a way for the UK forestry sector to assure buyers and users that its wood and wood products come from sustainably managed woodlands. The latest figures show that 50% of the UK’s woodland area and an estimated 85% of harvested timber is certified through one or both of these schemes. Indeed it is a unique feature of the UK forestry sector that woodlands can be
dual-certified to a single national standard so providing enterprises with the maximum possible flexibility to meet their customers’ needs at least cost.
One measure of our success is that the UKWAS model continues to attract international interest; in recent years we have welcomed international visitors, including from China, wishing to learn whether our experience might be helpful to them in formulating their own national processes.
The standard is revised on a five-year cycle. A second edition of the standard was published in 2006 and further changes were adopted in 2008 to make the standard more accessible for owners and managers of smaller woodlands or those managed in a low intensity manner.
A third edition has been agreed by the stakeholders and has been assessed and endorsed by PEFC Council and approved by the FSC.
The new edition is evolutionary rather than revolutionary in its approach. Its development has been informed by a three-year review process including international benchmarking and three rounds of stakeholder consultation. Full account has been taken of the new governmental UK Forestry Standard’s requirements and those of FSC and PEFC.
I am confident that the third edition will prove to be a robust and essential tool enabling UK producers to demonstrate their good credentials to stakeholders and customers.
Peter Wilson FICFor CEnv