Consultation response to UKWAS 4

29 October 2015

The revision draft of UKWAS 4 was produced by a committee, during the spring and summer of 2015. Productive forestry interests were well represented with Stuart Wilkie (Scottish Woodlands) providing particularly diligent input, supported by Ewan McIntosh of Tilhill Foresty and Confor's Andrew Heald.

The main change is in the documents structure, and all the requirements in UKWAS are now listed together, whereas previously some requirements were included in introductory sections, and others within Guidance Notes. UKWAS has to straddle the requirements of UKFS, and of FSC and PEFC – there are elements that can be altered and other elements that need to be structured in
order to satisfy the “parent” standards.

Following this consultation period, UKWAS will then be sent for approval to FSC and PEFC, and it will then be further assessed to determine that it meets their requirements. There are requirements, which we may wish for in a UK context, which simply will not be approved at an international level. It should be remembered that UKWAS is voluntary, however it is seen by schemes such as RHI and by many larger end-use companies as important to demonstrate sustainability. Many other timber customers do NOT require this level of assurance.

As with any standard, Auditor Interpretation is a key issue, particularly when the Forest Manager is less experienced when dealing with the standard. There is a balance when revising the standard to find the appropriate level, where requirements are reasonably specific, but still allow flexibility for changing sites
and management objectives.

The opportunity to comment on this revision has been widely publicized, and I am grateful for the input that has been already received and has helped in the preparation of these notes. The revised requirements were also on display at the recent CONFOR woodland show, and visitors had the opportunity to leave comment on an adjacent flip-chart or with myself. If you have any comments please let me know via email or telephone before

Andrew Heald, Confor