I informed the House in February, Official Report, column 791W, that I expected the revised edition of the UK Forestry Standard to be published later this year.
I am delighted to say that we have published the new Standard and its suite of supporting guidelines today. Copies are available on the Forestry Commission’s website at: www.forestry.gov.uk/ukfs.
The documents, prepared by the Forestry Commission and Northern Ireland Forest Service, set out how we must manage our forests in a truly sustainable way. They form the practice code for forest management and detail the conditions that must be met when felling trees, carrying out woodland operations, and receiving grants. They apply to all woodland, irrespective of who owns or manages it.
The Standard ensures that international agreements and conventions on areas such as sustainable forest management, climate change, biodiversity and the protection of water resources are robustly applied here in the UK.
For forest managers, the new Standard encapsulates all the various requirements of sustainable forest management and spells out what they mean in practice. For the first time it includes principles of forest management for carbon benefits, which is a UK Government carbon plan commitment. The UKFS also provides the basis for the new woodland carbon code that gives assurance that woodland projects for carbon capture provide the benefits claimed for them.
For many years the UK has been at the forefront of international moves to protect the world’s forests. The new Standard provides an excellent and up-to-date example of our approach. It is most appropriate that we are doing this in international year of forests.
The Standard will help us strike that vital balance between the economic, social and environmental benefits of forestry. To that end, I am pleased to note the forestry regulation taskforce’s support of the Standard as the cornerstone of long-term sustainable forest management.
I want to thank all the forestry and environmental organisations who have worked with us to bring the Standard together.