FSC conditional approval for UKWAS 4

The revised draft of the FSC national forest stewardship standard for the UK has received conditional approval from FSC International’s Policy and Standards Committee (PSC).

News Release issued by FSC UK on 3rd May 2017

The standard, familiar to many forest managers as the UK Woodland Assurance Standard or UKWAS, has undergone a thorough revision process which began in 2013. A draft submitted to FSC International last year was not approved, and underwent further revision before being resubmitted in February this year. This revised draft was conditionally approved following a meeting of the PSC in early April.

This is terrific news,” says FSC UK Forest Standards Manager Dr Owen Davies. “This positive decision from the PSC has been made possible by the hard work and commitment of the UKWAS Steering Group, whose members responded so constructively to FSC feedback on the previous draft. There are still challenges to overcome, but I’m confident that, with continuing constructive collaboration between FSC UK, FSC International and the UKWAS Steering Group, the outstanding conditions can be resolved.”

In terms of the contents of the standard, the main condition set by the PSC is that general references to compliance with the law, such as health and safety or workers’ rights legislation, must be replaced with readily auditable, outcome-oriented requirements.

The PSC has also stipulated that changes be made to the UK standard development group before the next revision of the standard, to ensure representation of economic, environmental and social interests is chamber-balanced in accordance with FSC requirements.

The conditional approval of the standard means that there is no further requirement for it to be considered by the PSC. All subsequent discussions about the contents of the standard will be with FSC Policy and Standards Unit (PSU) staff in Bonn, who will have the final say over when conditions have been met. FSC UK will continue to work closely with PSU and the UKWAS Steering Group to find pragmatic solutions and deliver a workable standard for the UK.

UKWAS Steering Group chair, Peter Wilson, says “The revision exercise has been a long haul but the completion of our work is in sight and the steering group will meet shortly to work on closing out the remaining concerns raised by FSC. The revision process has been thorough and radical and, once these conditions are met, we hope that users will find the updated version to be more logical in its approach and much easier to use than earlier versions. Praise is due to steering group members for their tenacity and the dedication they have brought to the task of revising and improving the UKWAS”.

If you have any questions about the standard development and approval process, please contact Owen at