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Action Plan



Conservation and enhancement of biodiversity

6.2Maintenance of biodiversity and ecological functions


When preparing management planning documentation, woodland owners/managers shall draw upon those requirements of this certification standard which relate to the maintenance and enhancement of biodiversity.

Means of verification

  • Management planning documentation.


In determining the future composition and management of the woodland consideration should be given to the requirements in section 6 and other sections such as:

  • Adopting low impact silvicultural systems (3.4.3)
  • Identifying, maintaining and enhancing semi-natural features (5.2.1)
  • Altering the proportion of native species and open space (3.3.2)
  • Converting part of the woodland to non-forested land (3.5.1).


A minimum of 15% of the woodland area shall be managed with conservation and enhancement of biodiversity as a major objective including:

  1. Conservation areas and features as identified in sections 6.1.1 and 6.1.3.
  2. Long-term retentions: stable stands and clumps are identified and constitute a minimum of 1% of the woodland area.
  3. Natural reserves: areas of woodland have been set aside where biodiversity is the prime objective. Natural reserves shall comprise at least 1% of plantations and 5% of semi-natural woodlands.
  4. Areas being restored to semi-natural woodland or to non-woodland habitats (see requirements in sections 3.5.1, 6.1.3 and 6.3.2).

Means of verification

  • Management planning documentation including maps
  • Field observation
  • Demonstration of the rationale for the balance between adequate dispersal of sites across the woodland area and concentration of sites in important locations with justification based on maximising the benefits for biodiversity conservation and/or enhancement.


Where the total of the conservation areas, long-term retentions and natural reserves comprises less than 15% of the woodland area, additional areas should be identified where the enhancement of biodiversity as a major objective is to be pursued.

Natural reserves should be predominantly wooded, permanently identified and in locations which are of particularly high wildlife interest or potential. They should be managed by minimum intervention unless alternative management has a higher conservation or biodiversity value.

In very small woodlands (i.e. 10 ha or under) natural reserves may consist of groups of, or individual, over-mature trees.

The identification of large natural reserves should be given particular priority in woodlands which contain large areas (i.e. more than 50 ha) of semi-natural woodland.

Larger and more widespread woodland estates may fulfill this requirement across the estate as a whole rather than reserving specified areas in each and every wood or forest management unit.

In young plantations minimum intervention may often not be the best management regime for biodiversity during the establishment phase, but potential areas for future non-intervention should be identified wherever appropriate



Owners/managers shall plan and take action over time to provide a diversity of both standing and fallen deadwood habitats throughout the WMU and to accumulate deadwood volumes and maintain veteran trees, where this does not conflict with safety of the public or forestry workers or the health of the woodland.

Actions shall include:

  • Identifying areas where deadwood is likely to be of greatest ecological value
  • Keeping standing dead trees, snags and veteran trees
  • Keeping and protecting old, previously pollarded trees alive through appropriate management
  • Managing suitable trees to eventually take the place of existing veterans
  • Only harvesting windblow when it is of significant value unless more than 3 m3/ha is blown and sufficient deadwood is already accumulating on site
  • Keeping naturally fallen trees or major branches
  • When thinning or clearfelling, creating snags and providing fallen deadwood where insufficient has already accumulated.

Means of verification

  • Field observation
  • Harvesting contracts
  • Discussions with owners/managers, staff and contractors
  • If there is a conflict with safety or woodland health, the issues have been documented
  • Management planning documentation.


Management practices should be contributing to the accumulation of standing and fallen deadwood, in approximately equal proportions. About 20 m3/ha, excluding tree stumps, should be provided across the whole WMU and the greatest volumes concentrated in areas of higher ecological value. In order to provide deadwood habitat throughout the woodland, in most hectares there should be a few dead standing and fallen stems contributing to the overall deadwood provision and at least some stumps should be retained. The accumulation of deadwood throughout a rotation provides for greater continuity of the full range of deadwood habitat types.

The most valuable areas within which to develop deadwood habitats are where linkages can be made with existing deadwood habitats to develop ecological connectivity over time; these areas include:

  • Wood pasture/parklands
  • Ancient semi-natural woodland with veteran trees
  • Long-term retentions and natural reserves
  • Riparian or wet woodland.

Retained deadwood should be matched to the requirements of those species likely to be important on the site.

Habitat diversity is improved by having:

  • Stems of greater than 20 cm diameter, particularly large dimension timber from native species
  • Snags at variable height
  • A range of tree/shrub species at varying stages of decay and in a variety of light conditions.

See also section 7.4.2 relating to mitigation of risks to public health and safety.