More work to do on UKWAS 4

News Release issued by FSC UK on 26th October 2016

More work to do on UK Woodland Assurance Standard version 4

The UK Woodland Assurance Standard, or UKWAS, is the standard used in FSC forest management certification in the UK. The standard is being revised to take account of stakeholder views and current circumstances, including changes to FSC’s international Principles and Criteria.

The draft of UKWAS 4 submitted to FSC International earlier this year has been not been approved by the Policy and Standards Committee (PSC), so more work must be done if it is to be approved as an FSC national forest stewardship standard.

One of the challenges of the FSC system is to balance the local adaptation of national forest stewardship standards like UKWAS with the need to fulfil the international FSC Principles and Criteria and achieve some level of global consistency,’ says FSC UK Forest Standards Manager Dr Owen Davies. ‘The deliberations of the Policy and Standards Committee are a key part of ensuring that balance. In this case they have decided that the current draft of UKWAS 4 does not take sufficient account of FSC’s International Generic Indicators (IGIs). This is something we have to take seriously, as the IGIs are intended to contribute to global consistency among national standards.’

Dr Hans Joachim Droste, Policy and Standards Director at FSC International, says ‘We respect the huge amount of work that has gone into the revision of the UK national standard, which forms a solid basis for further work. But the current version of the Principles and Criteria is more specific in its requirements than the previous version, and we feel that there are number of areas where the draft UK standard does not fully address those requirements. We are confident that further refinements can be made and the standard reconsidered for approval within a reasonable timeframe.

More detailed feedback from FSC International on the draft of UKWAS 4 is expected in November.

Peter Wilson, Chair of the UKWAS Steering Group, says ‘We are extremely disappointed by this decision. The UKWAS partners warmly welcomed FSC’s renewed global focus on outcomes and our Steering Group members, supported by FSC UK, have spent many hundreds of hours preparing UKWAS 4; we believed the standard as drafted had achieved an appropriate focus on sustainable forest management outcomes in the UK context. We will of course work closely with FSC UK and, through them, FSC International to identify the best way to conclude the revision. Our Steering Group will meet in early December to agree next steps, the options include making a formal appeal against this unexpected PSC decision.

These developments may delay the planned roll out of UKWAS 4, which was scheduled for the end of this year; UKWAS 3.1 will remain valid as the FSC national forest stewardship standard for the UK in the interim.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Owen Davies at