UK Forestry Standard: Proposed key changes

Closed 10 Aug 2021

Opened 29 Jun 2021

Feedback updated 10 Dec 2021

We asked

We asked for stakeholder views on cross-cutting themes that could be further developed in the next edition of the UK Forestry Standard, to support the principles of sustainable forest management. 

You said

39 individuals and organisations submitted a consultation response. These have now been reviewed and analysed by an independent consultant to identify key themes.

We did

The consultation responses will help inform the drafting of the next edition of a Standard that is balanced and relevant and applicable across the UK. The drafting process has been initiated, and updated detailed technical content will be shared with stakeholders during the second consultation stage planned for spring 2022.

For further information go to:

Results updated 10 Dec 2021

The results and analysis of this consultation are given in the independent consultant's report attached below (from the consultancy called Why Research).


Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


Overview of the UK Forestry Standard

The UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) is the technical standard for sustainable forestry practice in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It has been developed specifically for forestry across the UK and its content needs to apply in all four countries and underpins the delivery of their forestry policies

The UKFS was first published in 1998 and the current fourth edition, published in 2017, can be viewed here. It is based on applying internationally-agreed criteria which support the delivery of sustainable forest management. Sustainable forest management is a wide-ranging concept which incorporates the environmental, economic and social aspects of forestry. The definition of sustainable forest management which underpins the UKFS is:

‘The stewardship and use of forest lands that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and potential to fulfil now and in the future relevant ecological, economic and social functions at local, national and global levels and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems.’ Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, 1993.

All the governments of the UK have adopted this definition and support and promote the stewardship and use of woodlands through legislation and good practice as brought together in the UKFS.

The UKFS applies to the entire forest environment and to all UK forest types and management systems including the woodland cover in urban areas. However it does not apply to the management of individual trees, orchards, ornamental and garden trees, tree nurseries, or the management of Christmas trees.

The four administrations of the UK are reviewing the current edition of the UKFS. A review takes place every five years and the aim is to update and publish the next version by the end of 2022. Reviewing the current edition will ensure the Standard’s technical and legal content is up to date and that it continues to safeguard and promote sustainable forestry practice in the UK whilst reflecting the international context in which forestry operates.

Reviewing the UK Forestry Standard

The UKFS review is overseen by a Project Board made up of representatives from the four countries, and is co-ordinated by Scottish Forestry. The final content of the new edition of the UKFS will be approved by the four administrations. For more information please see:

Engaging stakeholders in the review is a key aim, and a reference group of UK-level stakeholders with knowledge of different aspects of sustainable forest management has been established to support the countries develop an updated Standard by ensuring it is relevant and appropriate across the UK. In addition, a two-stage consultation process is planned. This first consultation will seek views on significant cross-cutting themes that could be further developed in the next edition. A second consultation, planned for spring 2022, will seek stakeholder comments on the updated detailed content of a draft Standard.

To inform the review an initial assessment of the Standard’s current technical content has been undertaken by specialists from the country forest authorities and administrations, Forest Research and external reviewers. This initial work suggested that, once updated, the majority of the technical content in the existing edition remains relevant.

However, the assessment also identified a number of significant cross-cutting themes that are relevant across the Standard and could be developed further. These cross-cutting themes form the basis of this first consultation and can be summarised as:

  • Forest resilience and climate change adaptation
  • Managing carbon
  • A systematic approach to biosecurity
  • Stakeholder and public involvement
  • Complementary action between woodlands and wider land use objectives
  • Minimising and managing manufactured waste.

Why your views matter

This first consultation will help inform the considerations of the four country administrations regarding the cross-cutting themes that could be further developed in the next edition of the UKFS, supporting the principles of sustainable forest management. It is not looking for detailed comment on the current content, requirements and guidelines - these will be covered in the second consultation next spring.

Who is this consultation aimed at?

As this is a technical consultation, it is targeted at users who are familiar with the content and purpose of the UKFS and not the general public.

All responses submitted will be considered, and will help inform the development of a next edition that is balanced, relevant and applicable across the UK.

Out of scope

Information received during the initial assessment identified other important issues that could be considered by this review project, including the Standard’s scope, application and approach to monitoring. However, these issues are outside the scope of this first consultation and will be considered further during the review.

Importantly, this is not a consultation on the forestry policy aims or specific forestry targets of the four nations of the UK. If you have questions or comments on country forestry policies, targets or delivery please contact:

  • England -
  • Northern Ireland -
  • Scotland -
  • Wales -


  • Environment and Climate Change