UK woodland certifier "extremely disappointed" by international standards knock-back

A draft revision of the UK Woodland Assurance Standard ("UKWAS 4") has been rejected by approval body FSC International.

Image: Oona Ralsanen (CC BY SA 2.0)
Image: Oona Ralsanen (CC BY SA 2.0)

UKWAS is the standard used in FSC forest management certification in the UK, and is currently being revised to take account of stakeholder views and changes to FSC's international principles and criteria.

The draft of UKWAS 4 submitted FSC International in Germany by Edinburgh-based UKWAS earlier this year, but FSC's Policy and Standards Committee has now said more work must be done before it can be approved as an FSC national forest stewardship standard.

FSC UK forest standards manager Dr Owen Davies explained: "They have decided that the current draft does not take sufficient account of FSC's International Generic Indicators. This is something we have to take seriously, as the IGIs are intended to contribute to global consistency among national standards."

FSC International policy and standards director Dr Hans Joachim Droste said: "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 time frame."

UKWAS Steering Group chair Peter Wilson said the organisation was "extremely disappointed" by the decision, having spent "many hundreds of hours" preparing the draft.

"We will of course work closely with FSC UK and, through them, FSC International to identify the best way to conclude the revision," he said, adding: "Our Steering Group will meet in early December to agree next steps, the options include making a formal appeal against this unexpected decision."

The move is likely to delay the planned roll out of UKWAS 4 which was scheduled for the end of this year. UKWAS 3.1 will remain the FSC national forest stewardship standard for the UK in the interim.

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