5.1 Woodland access and recreation including traditional and permissive use rights



a) Existing permissive or traditional uses of the woodland shall be identified and sustained except when such uses can be shown to threaten the integrity of the woodland or the achievement of the objectives of management.

b) A precautionary approach shall be adopted in relation to water supplies.

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Permissive and traditional uses include:

  • Permissive access routes
  • De facto access to well-known landmarks
  • Gathering fruit or fungi by the public for their own consumption where this does not jeopardise the achievement of biodiversity objectives (having regard to codes of good practice)
  • Water supplies.

Permissive routes can be closed annually to maintain their permissive status.

Traditional uses that exploit the woodland resource (e.g. peat cutting) should be carried out at a traditional scale.

‘Integrity’ refers principally to the ecological maintenance of the woodland.

  • Documentation or maps of all existing permissive and traditional uses of the woodland
  • Discussion with interested parties
  • Field observation of public rights of way
  • Evidence presented to justify any restriction of permissive or traditional uses.


a) There shall be provision for some public access subject only to limited exemptions.

b) Where there is a special demand for further public access for the purpose of environmental education, the owner/manager shall make reasonable efforts to meet this demand.

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Woodlands containing or adjoining notable historic environment or ecological features may attract large numbers of visitors even to small properties. This presents an opportunity to promote public access and/or educate visitors about the multiple benefits of forestry.

Professional associations can advise on necessary safety and insurance provisions, ways of supporting educational visits and studies, and methods for recovering some or all of the extra costs of satisfying public demand.

In Scotland:

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act (2003) provides for responsible access on foot, cycle or horse and also for responsible management of access by land owners and managers.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides guidance on responsible behaviour of those taking and managing access together with circumstances where access may be restricted.

In addition, supplementary guidance is published on specific aspects such as events and core paths.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland:

There is no statutory right of general access to woodland thus emphasising the value of allowing some public access which may be provided through one or more of:

  • A permissive freedom to roam
  • Public rights of way through or beside the wood
  • Publicised open days or guided walks each year
  • Permissive access on specified routes
  • Access management agreements with local authorities
  • In England and Wales only – by voluntarily dedicating woodland for public access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW).

Public access, other than on public rights of way, and environmental education may be denied in the following example situations:

  • Woodlands under 10 ha in size with a high private amenity value
  • Areas that adjoin dwellings or private gardens
  • Isolated woodlands to which there is no ready access route for the public across adjoining land
  • Woodlands where there is current evidence of serious and sustained abuse or damage. Persistent vandalism may force owners/managers to place particular woodland blocks or areas ‘out of bounds’. Reasons should be communicated through local schools, libraries, post offices and parish halls to help stimulate community co-operation to combat damage
  • Areas of the woodland that contain sites, species or features that would be particularly vulnerable to disturbance
  • Periods or days when country sports, outdoor recreation or special events would be jeopardised
  • Temporary closures in order to ensure public safety.

  • Field observation to confirm that access is available
  • Maps show public rights of way and/or core paths through or beside the wood
  • Evidence of publicised annual open days or guided walks
  • Access agreements with local authorities
  • Evidence that account has been taken of local demand
  • Evidence from consultation with interested parties
  • Records of publicised annual open days or guided walks, school visits or research undertaken in the woodland
  • Evidence of access provision, path maintenance, conservation management (particularly in regard to visitor erosion) and interpretation at significant cultural and historic environment assets.

5.2 Minimising adverse impacts



The owner/manager shall mitigate the risks to public health and safety and other negative impacts of woodland operations on local people.

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Examples of impacts include:

  • Public safety and access implications of woodland operations
  • Timber traffic, particularly in and around the woodland
  • Natural hazards to workers and the public, e.g. hazardous trees
  • Smoke
  • Management of hazards caused by visitor use.

  • No evidence of legal non-compliance
  • Evidence that complaints have been dealt with constructively
  • Documented evidence that owners/managers have considered actual and potential impacts of operations on local people and interest groups and have taken steps to mitigate them
  • Use of risk assessment and site management with safety signs and diversions around active operational sites.


The owner/manager shall respond constructively to complaints, seek to resolve grievances through engagement with complainants in the first instance, and follow established legal process should this become necessary.

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5.3 Rural economy



The owner/manager shall promote the integration of woodlands into the local economy by:

  • Making the best use of the woodland’s potential products and services consistent with other objectives
  • Providing local people with equitable opportunities for employment and to supply goods and services.
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Promotion of integration into the local economy may be achieved by:

  • Allowing local or specialist markets opportunities to purchase small-scale or specialist parcels
  • Promoting and encouraging enterprises which will strengthen and diversify the woodland economy and the local economy
  • Making equitable provision for local employment for contractors and suppliers to provide services and supplies and making this known.

The woodland’s potential products include non-timber woodland products and recreational activities.

An example of how the owner/manager might help to diversify the processing industry is that a proportion of timber parcels are advertised and sold by open tender or auction.

Reference to country forestry strategies and engagement with local woodland and community forest initiatives may highlight opportunities to fulfil this requirement.

Evidence of:

  • Local or specialist market opportunities
  • Promoting and encouraging enterprises to strengthen and diversify the local economy
  • Provision for local employment and suppliers.

5.4 Health and safety



(a) There shall be:

  • Compliance with health and safety legislation
  • Conformance with associated codes of practice
  • Conformance with FISA guidance.

(b) There shall be contingency plans for any accidents.

(c) There shall be appropriate competency.

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This requirement relates to anyone on the work site, including workers and members of the public.

Advice to owners/managers

With respect to health and safety, it is important for owners/managers to be aware of their legal responsibilities in regard to fulfilling one or more of the relevant management roles as described in FISA guidance.

See FISA Guidance listed in the appendix of references.

  • Field observation that health and safety legislation and codes of practice are being implemented
  • Discussion with workers demonstrates that they are aware of relevant requirements and have access to appropriate FISA codes of practice
  • Contracts specifying health and safety requirements
  • Records maintained and up to date (e.g. accident book, site risk assessments, chemical record book, tree safety reports)
  • System to ensure that anyone working in the woodland has had relevant instruction in safe working practice and that the appropriate number has had training in basic first aid and, where relevant, holds a certificate of competence
  • Procedure for monitoring compliance with safety requirements (written for larger organisations) and for dealing with situations where safety requirements are not met
  • Documented health and safety policy and consideration of issues in all procedures and work instructions
  • Evidence of a systematic approach to accident prevention.

5.5 Training and continuing development



All workers shall have appropriate qualifications, training and/or experience to carry out their roles in conformance to the requirements of this standard, unless working under proper supervision if they are currently undergoing training.

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Where requirements of the work are likely to change, a programme of ongoing training and development should be undertaken.

  • Copies of appropriate certificates of competence
  • Discussion with workers
  • System to ensure that only workers who are appropriately trained or supervised work in the woodland
  • No evidence of workers without relevant training, experience or qualifications working in the woodland
  • Documented training programme for employees
  • Training records for all employees.


The owner/manager of large enterprises shall promote training, and encourage and support new recruits to the industry.

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Promotion of training may be achieved through:

  • Providing sites for training courses
  • Offering subsidies for training courses.
  • Documented policy
  • Involvement with industry bodies promoting training, including FISA
  • Records of training sessions, provision of sites for training, subsidies for training courses.

5.6 Workers’ rights



a) There shall be compliance with workers’ rights legislation, including equality legislation.

b) Workers shall not be deterred from joining a trade union or employee association.

c) Direct employees shall be permitted to negotiate terms and conditions, including grievance procedures, collectively should they so wish.

d) Workers shall have recourse to mechanisms for resolving grievances which meet the requirements of statutory codes of practice

e) Wages paid to workers shall meet or exceed the statutory national living wage.

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The statutory national living wage is defined in national minimum wage regulations. The owner/manager may choose to pay wages that are higher than the statutory national living wage, for example a voluntary living wage such as that calculated by the Living Wage Foundation.

  • Discussion with workers
  • Documented policies.

5.7 Insurance



The owner/manager and workers shall be covered by adequate public liability and employer’s liability insurance.

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  • Insurance documents
  • Self-insurance with a policy statement.