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Conservation and enhancement of biodiversity

6.1Protection of rare species, habitats and natural resources
6.1.1

Requirement

  1. Areas and features of high conservation value having particular significance for:
    1. biodiversity including sites important for endangered but mobile species, and/or
    2. natural processes in critical situations
    3. shall be identified by reference to statutory designations at national or regional level and/or through assessment on the ground.

  2. The identified areas, species and features of high conservation value shall be maintained and, where possible, enhanced.
  3. There shall be evidence of ongoing communication and/or consultation with statutory bodies, local authorities, wildlife trusts and other relevant organisations.

Means of verification

All woodlands:

  • All known areas and features mapped
  • Field inspection.

Non-SLIM woodlands:

  • Pro-active approach to the identification of areas and features of significance for biodiversity, appropriate to likely biodiversity value
  • Pro-active approach to the identification of areas and features of significance for watershed/erosion protection.

Guidance

These areas and features of high conservation value include:

  • Areas designated as:
    • Special Areas for Conservation
    • Special Protection Areas
    • Biological Sites of Special Scientific Interest or Areas of Special Scientific Interest
    • Ramsar Sites
    • National Nature Reserves
  • Ancient semi-natural woodland and plantations on ancient woodland sites
  • Areas supporting priority habitats and species listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Examples of where woodlands affect natural processes include watershed management and erosion control. Guidance on where these may be critical should be sought through reference to the statutory environment protection agencies and the Forestry Commission’s Forests and Water Guidelines.

Identification and mapping of these features may be carried out on an ongoing basis, provided that it has been completed for an area prior to significant woodland management operations taking place.

6.1.2

Requirement

Areas designated as Special Areas for Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Ramsar Sites, National Nature Reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest or Areas of Special Scientific Interest shall be managed in accordance with plans agreed with nature conservation agencies, and shall be marked on maps

Means of verification

All woodlands:

  • Staff and contractors are aware of such sites and of plans for their management
  • For all potentially damaging operations, awareness is demonstrated of how areas will be protected and/or safeguarded
  • Management plans for statutory conservation areas and monitoring of implementation of those plans
  • Condition statements from statutory bodies
  • Maps.

SLIM woodlands:

  • Discussions with owner/manager demonstrate how areas will be safeguarded and/or enhanced.

Non-SLIM woodlands:

  • Planning documentation shows how areas will be safeguarded and/or enhanced.

Guidance

The system of designated sites in the UK forms a representative sample of existing ecosystems within the landscape.

Protection and enhancement may be through:

  • Following best practice recommended by relevant statutory bodies
  • Excluding areas from conventional woodland operations which may involve temporary demarcation
  • Minimising the impact of operations carried out on surrounding land, whether woodland or other land
  • Carrying out operations specifically prescribed to protect these sites or species
  • Seeking specialist advice particularly for rare or vulnerable species
  • Setting aside minimum intervention areas surrounding these areas
  • Protecting areas with valuable flora from browsing except where required to maintain the flora
  • Protecting UK BAP priority habitats and species.
6.1.3

Requirement

Valuable woodland and other semi-natural habitats (e.g. moorland, heathland, wood pasture and grassland) which have been colonised, planted, or incorporated into plantations, but which have retained their ecological characteristics (or have a high potential to be restored), shall be identified and restored or treated in a manner that does not lead to further loss of biodiversity or cultural value.

Means of verification

All woodlands:

  • Staff and contractors are aware of such sites and of any plans for their management
  • For all potentially damaging operations, awareness demonstrated of how areas shall be protected and/or safeguarded.

SLIM woodlands:

  • Discussions with owner/manager demonstrate how such areas will be managed.

Non-SLIM woodlands:

  • Planning documentation shows how areas will be managed.

Guidance

This requirement relates to small scale habitats within a woodland matrix.

Appropriate management may include:

  • Rides and glades containing remnant semi-natural communities are widened and extended
  • Areas with a rich ground flora and shrub layer are heavily thinned
  • Remnants of wood pasture, veteran trees or other ‘open-forest’ habitat are gradually opened up
  • Heathland, bog and other open habitats are re-created by premature felling without restocking
  • Maintenance of open ground around historic environment sites.

Priority should be given to habitats identified in the Forestry Commission’s forests and peatlands policy or the Forest Service’s afforestation and environmental policy and UK national and local Biodiversity Action Plans.

Woodland removal to facilitate infrastructure or built development which is not integral to the management of the rest of the woodland cannot meet this requirement.

See also section 3.5.1 which covers larger scale habitat restoration through conversion to non-forested land.

Advice to owners/managers

Only timber felled in accordance with this requirement can be certified.

Owners/managers are advised to seek guidance from their certification body or group scheme manager.