Select Committee on Environmental Audit Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)



  DEFRA is the central Government department with lead policy responsibility for sustainable development. As well as developing the UK's policy on sustainable development DEFRA also co-ordinates and oversees the implementation of Government targets by central government departments, their agencies and NDPBs in England. The Devolved Administrations for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are responsible for developing their owns policies but co-ordinate them with those set for England to ensure a unified approach for the UK.

  The Forestry Commission is a separate Department also reporting to DEFRA Ministers and to forestry Ministers in the devolved administrations. The FC is responsible for UK and some international forestry issues and works closely with DEFRA on policy and operational activities concerned with timber.


  1.  Central Government timber procurement;

  2.  The development of guidance on timber procurement for local authorities;

  3.  The implementation and effectiveness of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as it relates to timber;

  4.  The development and effectiveness of the forest certification system for domestically-produced timber;

  5.  The development and implementation of sustainable forestry indicators; and

  6.  Progress made at the Convention of Biological Diversity's 6th Conference of the Parties.

  Additional information is given in supporting appendices.


  1.1  When buying products that derive from trees and where recycled timber cannot be used, Central Government departments and their agencies are bound to seek to ensure that the trees used to make those products were harvested legally from forests or plantations that are being managed to sustain their biodiversity, productivity and vitality and in such a way as to prevent harm to other ecosystems and any indigenous or forest dependent people.


  1.2  The Government's timber procurement policy has to fit within the regulatory framework governing public sector procurement and the UK Government's own policy for procurement in general. A note on the evolution of the Government's timber procurement policy is at Appendix A. This refers to other appendices that provide detailed information on the policy and related issues.

  1.3  The UK Government was the first national Government to set itself a timber procurement policy and in so doing has highlighted the complex and sensitive issues involved in seeking to purchase its timber and wood products from legal and sustainable sources. Not least is the plight of the poorer producing counties who do not yet have the capacity to meet our full requirements. The Government does not want to deny trade opportunities to developing countries where certification schemes are rare and poverty abundant but equally wishes to encourage sustainable forestry and legal logging and reward those achieving the highest standards. When the policy was announced in July 2000 it was made clear that it does not involve banning the purchase of timber that cannot be shown to be sustainably and legally produced.

  1.4  EC Directives on public procurement and the statutory regulations that implement those Directives in the UK prescribe the manner in which supplies, services and works are purchased. Government buyers are not permitted to discriminate between certified and non certified products in contract specifications and cannot deny suppliers an opportunity to bid because their environmental management systems are not certified. Nevertheless certification is an important mechanism for establishing the credibility of suppliers' claims. The Government requires ultimately that products made from wood be derived from trees that were grown and harvested legally and sustainably. There is currently no internationally accepted definition of "sustainable" and "legal" sources other than a set of general principles. This is the key issue in trying to follow through on the commitment with suppliers through our contracts with them.

  1.5  DEFRA's definition of sustainable timber is currently included in the model contract specification as follows:

    "The Contractor is required to supply timber and wood that derive from trees or plants that were grown in forests or plantations that were managed to (a) sustain their biodiversity, productivity and vitality and (b) to prevent harm to other ecosystems and any indigenous forest-dependent people. The Contractor shall obtain documentary evidence to demonstrate that this requirement has been met". [See Appendix F]

  1.6  In the action sheet on wood in the Green Guide for Buyers—which is being revised to take account of the model specification—it explains that:

    —  the evidence in support of this requirement might take the form of: a certificate issued under a credible, preferably independent, verification scheme; or other documents that demonstrate that timber producers are abiding to a declaration, charter, code of conduct or an environmental management system incorporating forest management criteria that conform with internationally recognised principles;

    —  in Europe, these principles should correspond to those of the Pan-European Operational Level Guidelines for Sustainable Forest Management as endorsed by the Lisbon Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (2-4 June 1998). Outside Europe, they shall correspond to the UNCED Forest Principles (Rio de Janeiro, June 1992) and, where applicable, to the criteria of guidelines for sustainable forest management as adopted under recognised international and regional initiatives, eg ITTO, Montreal Process, Tarapoto Process, UNEP/FAO Dry-Zone Africa Initiative.

  1.7  This definition is accepted internationally as a guiding set of principles but it presents Government buyers with practical difficulties in determining whether suppliers' claims are compliant. A more specific definition is required and this is being addressed by consultants undertaking the timber scoping study commissioned by DEFRA to suggest solutions to these complex issues. This study is hereinafter referred to as the ERM report and is explained at Appendix E. That study is due to be completed in the summer of 2002. Emerging findings on this issue have been the subject of consultation with various stakeholders. A consultation paper was published (Appendix E2) and a meeting held with stakeholders on 25 April 2002.

  1.8  DEFRA has a responsibility for promoting sustainable development throughout all sectors, nationally and internationally. Promoting the purchase of sustainable timber falls within that remit as does the promotion of using reclaimed and recycled timber.

  1.9  Internationally, the UK Government has been considering measures to tackle illegal logging in both producing and consuming countries. The UK has made progress in both areas towards fulfilling its commitment to implement the G8 Action on Forests agreed in 1998 and tackle illegal logging both internationally and domestically. The Forest Law Enforcement Conference held in Bali in September 2001, which Hilary Benn attended on behalf of the Government, has added dynamism to efforts to curb illegal logging and called for effective measures at a national, bilateral and international level.

  1.10  The Forest Stewardship Council is a certification scheme that competes with various other schemes worldwide. None of the standards set by the FSC and other organisations has any legal significance in terms of international trade. FSC claims to be the only genuine independent body but that is disputed by other schemes. A number of environmental NGOs support FSC and schemes recognised by FSC but those NGOs do not support other schemes. Only a small percentage of the world's forests are FSC certified and most of that is in the boreal and temperate regions. Very little tropical hardwood is independently certified and this situation is unlikely to change until producing counties have the capacity to improve governance and forest management practices. Thus Government buyers are presented with a complex and bewildering situation when sourcing timber products that they are not yet fully equipped to resolve. The ERM report will address these issues.




  1.11  An inter-departmental Sustainable Procurement Group has been set up to consider how Government bodies can better reflect the Government's sustainable development policies in public procurement and encourage innovation within the supply market for environmental goods and services. It will report to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Deputy Prime Minister and Chief Secretary to the Treasury in the summer. There also exists a Timber Buyers Group (TBG ) which has a small core of central departments and agencies who are able to monitor and report on implementation of the policy within their own organisations but wider reaction has proved difficult to gauge.

  1.12  Publication of the Green Ministers' Report for the year ended 31 March 2001 revealed that some departments were unable to report fully on their timber purchasing for the financial year ending 31 March 2001. This is because departments had little opportunity to change their systems and processes to meet the new reporting requirements. Last year was therefore a transition period for reporting on timber purchasing, however, it set a standard for Government buyers to report annually on their timber purchases and on assurances they have received that the sources were sustainable and legal.

  1.13  Departments have been asked to review their data capture systems so that they can more effectively manage their performance and report on progress DEFRA is investigating further how best to improve the quality of data recorded by departments and the questions asked in this year's Sustainable Development in Government questionnaire have been refined to ensure that all departments will be in a position to report fully on their timber purchasing for the financial year ending 31 March 2002. In addition, progress on collection of data will be reviewed in the Sustainable Development in Government Report 2002 to be published in November.

  1.14  DEFRA is considering plans to organise and deliver a combination of practical workshops, training events and voluntary audits.

  1.15  DEFRA and OGC have maintained a close working relationship at official level. The Procurement Policy Unit of OGC and the Procurement and Contracts Division of DEFRA are the two principal points of communication. Co-ordination and liaison extend to briefing for Ministers, international initiatives (OGC lead on development of EC Procurement Directives whereas DEFRA lead on European environment programmes), development of guidance (the Treasury/DETR Joint Note for example) and joint presentations at seminars and conferences.

  1.16  There is evidence to suggest that there are still officials working on operational activities who are not fully conversant with the practicalities of implementing the policy and maybe not promoting the policy hard enough to suppliers under contract. To address this DEFRA has produced a model contract specification clause and the chairman of ENV(G) has written to Green Ministers. This has been followed up with a letter to senior officials. The work being undertaken by the NHS Purchasing and Supplies Agency to inform and encourage their suppliers is an example of some organisations are able to make progress—see Appendix F.

  1.17  The timber procurement policy is being promoted outside central Government; examples of recent events are:

    —  Timber Buyers Group open meeting 27 July 2000.

    —  WWF 95+ Group annual meeting 2000.

    —  Greening Government Procurement Conference May 2001.

    —  Central Buying Consortium of Local Authorities seminar 2001.

    —  WWF 95+ Group 10th Anniversary—November 2001.

    —  NHS Supplies Agency workshop—February 2002.

    —  Open consultation meeting on the ERM timber scoping study—March 2002.

    —  World Forests Conference, Atlanta —April 2002.

  1.18  The ERM scoping study is in three phases. Phase 1 has two elements:(a) research of procurement activity, sustainable forestry standards, and certification schemes; and (b) initial suggestions for guidance on monitoring systems and means of assessing suppliers claims. This phase is nearly complete. Phase 2 has three elements: (c) a review of options and creation of an implementation plan; (d) recommendations for maintaining guidance; (e) final suggestions for monitoring and reporting systems. This phase is due to be completed by the end of June 2002 though this may slip due to the decision to introduce a consultation process. Phase 3 is the facilitation and management of implementation and has yet to be commissioned.

  1.19  A consultation paper covering emerging findings concerned with the HMG's requirements for sustainable and legal sources is at Appendix E2 to DEFRA's Memorandum. Various written comments have been received and are being analysed. The following is an indicative summary, and at this stage a somewhat speculative assessment of possible findings:

    —  Independent verification is the only credible form of evidence.

    —  Government contracts should define requirements for sustainable forest management and chain of custody management in terms of agreed international principles and systems based on internationally accepted quality standards such as ISO.

    —  Government competitions should admit producing countries committed to transition from a base line of legal harvesting and legal trade to higher standards; suppliers who have invested in reaching the higher standards must be given preference.

    —  It is unreasonable to expect HMG to implement its policy in full over a short timescale; progressive targets need to be established.

    —  Concentration on a few key suppliers would yield significant benefits fairly quickly.

    —  Some form of guidance resource centre will be needed to help Government buyers who will never possess the expertise needed to understand all the issues.

    —  The constraints imposed by EC Directives and WTO rules cannot be ignored. The UK's efforts should be co-ordinated with work at an international level.

  1.20  The ERM report will make a number of recommendations to improve implementation of the policy. The following paragraphs indicate some of the actions that may be taken forward.

  1.21  Government buyers will be given new guidance on how to specify their requirements and how to treat the claims submitted by suppliers. This will include model specification clauses. Competitions will include a means for continuing to trade with producing countries committed to attaining sustainable forest management standards over a reasonable period of time.

  1.22  Government departments and agencies will be encouraged to work with their key suppliers to begin a process of cultural change. The action being taken by the NHS Purchasing and Supplies Agency sets a good example—see Appendix F. Workshops and training courses will be devised to raise awareness and develop skills.

  1.23  Departments will be advised on the data that will need to be captured by management information systems if implementation is to be reported accurately and consistently across Government.

  1.24  Some form of central advisory service may be created to help buyers, possibly in the form of an Internet based interactive web site. The Timber Buyers Group will set such progressive targets as are reasonable for departments and agencies to achieve over time. Auditing of departments' activities on a random basis may be appropriate.

  1.25  It is possible that within individual departments or even within departmental business units there has been some cultural resistance to implementing sustainable development through procurement. Procurement has always been an economic process guided by the principle of not pursuing other policies at the expense of value for money. Behind this is the idea that procurement should not be a substitute for other policies. Equally, procurement policy should not hinder pursuit of government policies, including sustainable development. It is not understood by some that this principle can be maintained within an overarching policy for sustainable development. There is a need to embed sustainable development within the ethos of departments so that obtaining sustainable timber from sustainable and legal sources becomes an automatic action rather than a problem or an obstacle to value for money. The Sustainable Procurement Group is comsidering how best to tackle this issue.


  2.1  Local authorities are independent and autonomous bodies responsible within the law for making their own decisions on procurement matters. It is for them to decide whether or not to procure timber and timber products which have been independently certified as originating from well-managed forests. Central Government's timber procurement policy statement is widely available and can be adapted or adopted by other organisations, including local authorities. In doing so local authorities will need to have regard to their statutory duty of best value. Existing Best Value guidance states that Best Value Reviews need, amongst other things, to give effect to the principles of sustainable development.

  2.2  Officials from DTLR, DEFRA and the OGC are working with the Improvement Development Agency (IDeA)—a statutory body limited by guarantee and funded by DTLR—to explore the means by which sustainable development can be promoted within local government.



  3.1  The Global Wildlife Division (GWD) of DEFRA is the designated Management Authority responsible for ensuring that the CITES Convention is properly implemented in the UK. This includes enforcement and the issuing of permits for the import, export, or commercial use of CITES specimens. All applications for permits are referred to a designated CITES Scientific Authority for advice on the conservation status of the species concerned. The two UK Scientific Authorities are the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) for animals, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, for plants.

  3.2  There is a judicial review of the Government's powers to control certain species of CITES listed timber which is to be heard in the Court of Appeal on 30-31 May. Under its current interpretation of the CITES provisions the Government is broadly satisfied that effective controls are in place to regulate the trade in endangered or vulnerable timber species, but feels that tighter controls are needed on those species that are only listed for monitoring purposes—see conclusions at paragraph 3.19 below.


  3.3  CITES is an international agreement between 158 countries which restricts trade in endangered animals and plants. Species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices:

    —  Appendix I—species threatened with extinction, for which trade may only be authorised in exceptional circumstances.

    —  Appendix II—species not immediately threatened with extinction but which may become so unless trade is regulated, or which are similar in appearance to endangered species and are therefore included to secure better control.

    —  Appendix III—species subject to regulation within the territory of a CITES Party and for which the co-operation of other Parties is needed to prevent or restrict their exploitation.

Implementation of CITES

  3.4  CITES is implemented within the EU by means of Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 1808/01. Controls are based on a permitting system and the Regulations identify four categories (Annexes A-D) of species to which different controls apply—see attached Appendix H for details. CITES specimens may be freely traded within the EU, although vendors may be required to provide evidence confirming that they were imported or acquired lawfully (eg by presenting the holder's copy of the original import permit).

The CITES Controls

  3.5  The CITES Regulations Require the prior presentation of a valid permit before CITES listed timber can be imported into, or (re)exported from, the EU. Failure to do so is an offence and customs will normally seize the shipment, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Persons found guilty of smuggling CITES specimens may face up to seven years in jail, an unlimited fine or both. it is also an offence to sell, use, acquire, or display for commercial purposes any Annex A (or illegally imported Annex B) specimens. Persons found guilty of such offences may face up to two years in jail, a 5,000 fine, or both.

  3.6  Applications for permits to import/(re)export specimens of Annex A & B species and to (re)export Annex C species are made to the cites management authority. Checks are made to ensure that the specimens were lawfully acquired. In the case of import, this is done by requesting prior sight of the permit issued by the exporting country. The management authority must also be satisfied that trade will not be detrimental to the conservation of the species concerned.

  3.7  Annex C & D species are listed primarily for monitoring purposes and importers are only required to present a self completed import notification form to customs, together with a copy of the permit issued by the exporting country (Annex C only).

Effectiveness of the CITES Controls

  3.8  The controls on the trade in timber derived from Annex A or B species generally work quite well. Checks can be made as to the validity of export documents and arrangements can be made to check consignments on or shortly after arrival into the country. Imports can also be refused if we are not satisfied that the trade is sustainable. Trade within the EU in Annex A specimens is strictly regulated and, while the internal movement of Annex B or C specimens is not controlled, traders are expected to be able to show that such specimens were lawfully acquired.

  3.9  The controls on Appendix III/Annex C timber are less rigorous, as there is no requirement for the prior grant of an import permit. Consequently it is not possible to make prior arrangements to check consignments on arrival. If we wish to establish greater control over the trade in these species, they will either have to be transferred to Annex B or a new clause inserted into the regulations to require the prior presentation and clearance of the export permit. This latter change would, however, require an amendment to primary EU legislation which might be difficult to achieve in the short term.

  3.10  An Appendix III/Annex C listing is not without its advantages. Over the past 10 years a significant number of Appendix II listing proposals for commercially important timbers have failed as a result of objections from range states who feared this as a first step towards a total ban on trade. However many of these range states have found listing on Appendix III an attractive alternative, on the grounds that this will help them track illegal trade. Examples include the listing of ramin by Indonesia and mahogany by Brazil. the cites mahogany working group, which sprang from the appendix iii listing, brought together range states and major importers in constructive dialogue.

  3.11  The use of Appendix III as a measure to regulate the timber trade is relatively new and should be promoted as a confidence building measure that will provide evidence to support listing on higher appendices where necessary.

  3.12  At present there are no regulations that enable Her Majesty's Customs and Excise to control the entry of timber that has been illegally logged into UK unless it contravenes the CITES procedures. There is currently no Community legislation that creates an import control that would enable them to make use of their powers contained within UK Customs law to confiscate illegal goods and prosecute offenders. Legislation to create such a control would be a European Commission competency.

  3.13  The passing of new EU regulation can be a lengthy process, depending on the political will of member states and Parliament. The European Commission held a workshop in Brussels to discuss the issue on 22-24 April. There has been Inter Service Group consultation within the Commission on the measures that need to be taken. The Commission has informed that a communication is being drafted that will consider a possible new EU framework to enable such controls to be put in place, modeled on either the CITES framework or along the lines of the US Lacey Act (Section 3372 (2a)) with a view to issuing and EC Communication before the end of the year.

Enforcement of CITES

  3.14  Customs have developed a considerable amount of expertise in implementing the CITES controls. They have a dedicated team of eight staff at Heathrow Airport whose expertise is recognised internationally. They also provide expertise and help to other customs staff throughout the UK on a 24 hour basis, which enables Customs to co-ordinate its enforcement effort. Custom's Investigation Directorate also has a dedicated team whose remit includes trade in endangered species.

  3.15  Enforcement of the import/export controls to or from Third Countries lies with HM Customs & Excise, by means of the EU Regulation implementing CITES, which enables them to use powers of forfeiture or prosecution or both contained in The Customs & Excise Management Act 1979. The police are given powers under secondary UK legislation to deal with domestic offences such as the unauthorised sale of controlled species.

  3.16  There is no evidence to suggest that timber traders are seeking to evade the CITES controls on large consignments. However, it is possible that some may be unaware of the controls, particularly where it involves trade in worked timber products. So far our efforts to publicise the CITES controls have focused on imports of tourist souvenirs but we accept that more needs to be done to raise awareness amongst those trading in tropical timber products.

  3.17  We are aware of growing concern that the penalties for the sale of endangered species do not match those available for import offences. It has also been pointed out that there is no immediate power of arrest for such offences. These points will be taken into account in the forthcoming review of the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997.

  3.18  Finally we are also aware that because timbers such as Ramin have only recently been listed, enforcement agencies in EU member states may not be fully aware of the patterns and mechanisms of the timber trade. With this in mind, and at our prompting, the European Commission is about to commence a review of trade in CITES timber throughout the EU. Hopefully this should result in a production of a series of implementation manuals targeted at the needs of enforcement officers.


  3.19  The Government is broadly satisfied that effective controls are in place to regulate the trade in endangered or vulnerable timber species presently listed in Appendix I & II of CITES, but feels that tighter controls may be needed for certain species that are only listed in Appendix III/Annex C for monitoring purposes. It also feels that more needs to be done to publicise the CITES controls as they affect the timber trade. It therefore proposes to take action as follows:

    —  Following appropriate consultation, press for big leaf mahogany to be afforded the stricter protection available under Annex B of Council Regulation (EC) No. 338/97.

    —  Explore with other EU member states whether any other Annex C timber species merit similar protection.

    —  Consider with other EU member states whether the CITES Regulations should be amended to require the prior presentation of export documentation for certain Appendix III/Annex C specimens.

    —  Encourage range states to make greater use of Appendix III listings as a means to control illegal logging.

    —  Prepare an action plan and timetable for improving awareness of the CITES controls within the timber industry.



  4.1  Worldwide there is no universally agreed set of standards for certifying sustainable forest management, legal logging and chain of custody from forest to consumer. There are many competing organisations setting their own standards and organising their own certification schemes but very little mutual recognition between them. This situation makes it difficult for consumers to choose timber products that they can be confident have not had damaging consequences for the environment and society. The United Kingdom is the only country in the world that has a national standard for independent, forest certification that has the support of all stakeholders. The development of this standard—the UK Woodland Assurance Standard or UKWAS—was facilitated by the Forestry Commission on behalf of the UK Government. At present 40 per cent of the UK's 2.7 million hectares of woods and forests are certified including the entire 800,000 hectare public estate managed by the Forestry Commission in England, Scotland and Wales.

  4.2  UKWAS is based on the Government's standard for forest management—the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS). The UKFS recognises international agreements on sustainable forestry and sets out the Government's processes and requirements for the sustainable management of all forests and woodlands in the UK. The UKFS was developed through public consultation. When published in 1998 it was welcomed by all forest industry and environmental organisations.

Explanation of Forest Certification

  4.3  Forest Certification is a means of reassuring consumers that the timber products they buy come from sustainably managed forests. Credible certification involves accredited independent auditors assessing the management of woods and forests against a certification standard. Woods and forests that pass the assessment are awarded a certificate. This certificate can then be quoted when timber is harvested, and tracked through each link in the chain from forest to final consumer—the Chain of Custody. Every organisation in this wood chain has also to be independently assessed for its handling of certified timber. The final timber or wood product can then carry a label attesting to its sustainable source.

  4.4  Some products, for example paper, contain a mix of virgin and recycled material, and large mills processing forest products such as wood panels often have difficulty sourcing all their requirements from certified sources. To address these and other situations certification schemes have developed rules governing the maximum percentage of non-certified or recycled material that can be present in a product before it can still qualify for certified status and ultimately a label.

  4.5  DEFRA views the concept of independent certification schemes as a very significant contribution to the raising of forest management standards and practices worldwide. Independent verification provides consumers and buyers with an assurance that non independent schemes find hard to match. Conflict between competing schemes as to the degree of independence or quality of standards confuses consumers and buyers. A set of internationally agreed standards and agreed means of certification would make the task of buying from the right sources much easier. The work done by independent voluntary bodies such as FSC is highly valued.

  4.6  The Government supports credible certification schemes. The difficulty is in assessing which are credible, which is why the consultants employed to undertake the timber scoping study have been asked to develop criteria to enable this to be done.

  4.7  There is general agreement within the industry and by NGOs that timber and timber products certified under the Forest Stewardship Council is derived from sustainable and legal sources. Other schemes include the Pan European Forest Certification, Canadian Standards Association and the American Sustainable Forestry Initiative, will be evaluated against HMG requirements.

  4.8  The UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) was recognised by FSC in 1999 allowing UK woodland owners to provide the FSC certified products that the UK market demands. See section 4 of DEFRA's Memorandum for more information.


  4.9  Forest certification began with the creation of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in 1993. Initially this was a response to concern about timber from tropical forests, but it soon broadened to cover timber from all parts of the world. International environmental groups then lobbied retail companies to buy wood and timber products solely from FSC certified forests. Initial progress was slow and relatively few forests were certified worldwide. In the mid to late 90s both demand and supply increased, with the UK home to the greatest demand generated by a group of retail companies working with the WWF who stated very clearly that they were moving towards purchasing only certified wood products. This group is now known as the WWF 1995+ Group and includes over 100 companies (including major retailers) committed to implementing a sustainable timber and paper sourcing policy from independently certified forests.

  4.10  Uptake of certification in UK forests was particularly slow at first, as forest owners questioned both the need for and benefits of certification in the UK. However, attitudes began to change as market demand increased and overseas competitors pursued certification. UK industry then began to become concerned about maintaining access to markets, in particular with the 1995+ Group members. In 1997-98 the Forestry Commission brought all stakeholders together and proposed the development of a UK Standard based on the UKFS, and recognised by FSC. This was unanimously agreed and UKWAS was launched in June 1999.

  4.11  With the recognition of UKWAS by FSC, UK woodland owners can provide the FSC certified product that the UK market demands. In 2002 UKWAS was endorsed by the Pan European Forest Certification (PEFC) initiative, and UK owners certified against the UKWAS standard can now choose either the PEFC or the FSC label.

  4.12  For the present the members of the UKWAS Steering Group (who represent all sectors) have agreed that the UKWAS process should focus on providing a credible, independent standard for forest assessment that can be used by international certification schemes who wish to provide a route to their labels. There is therefore no UKWAS label and no plans to develop one. FSC is the established player in the UK market, and the supporters of PEFC are trying to raise awareness of the PEFC label.

  4.13  For certification to be effective as a market-led mechanism there needs to be a functioning Chain of Custody (CoC) to ensure that timber and wood products from certified woods can maintain their certified status through to the final point of sale. If one organisation in the chain does not have a CoC certificate then the wood "loses" its certified status, and cannot be labelled at the final point of sale. At present different certification schemes operate different CoC systems, and this militates against processors working with more than one scheme. To overcome this the UK forest industry has developed a generic industry standard for CoC and is seeking to gain agreement to it from the principal international certification schemes.


  4.14  There are now 1.1 million hectares of certified woodland in the UK with all but 10,000 hectares of these gaining the FSC certificate. Over 60 per cent of wood production is certified, and there is evidence of UK timber industry gaining market share at the expense of non-FSC certified imports (the UKWAS name does not appear on timber and wood products). A recent study has also demonstrated that certification has led to improvement in the standard of woodland management in the UK.

  4.15  There has been considerable international interest in the way UKWAS was developed. Certification processes in some other countries have struggled to build bridges between stakeholder groups. Schemes have been developed and forests certified, but no other country initiative has managed to secure the support of all interest groups. In Sweden and New Zealand initiatives are underway seeking to learn from the UK experience.

  4.16  However, very few small woods—those under 100 hectares—have been certified so far, and after the initial good progress the momentum of certification has slowed considerably. Certification is not cheap. After the initial assessment there is an annual surveillance, and the certificate has to be renewed every five years. The cost is proportionately higher for small woods across GB (see Table). They are mostly in private ownership.

  4.17  The cost can be reduced if an owner participates in a group certification scheme or contracts a certified management company to manage their wood. These schemes are not likely to be attractive to all private owners. There is little evidence that buyers of certified wood are willing to pay more. Many owners of small woods do not have the technical knowledge required to manage a forest sustainably and they rely on external advice, which again can be costly. Many owners are worried that they will be excluded from markets and without income from timber sales they may make less effort to secure certification.

Size class

of woods

of woods

of woods

Total area

Area %
of total

wood area




































500 and>




1 248,766



All woods








  Source: National Inventory of Woodlands and Trees (GB)


  4.18  Demand for certified wood will increase as the effects of the Government's recent timber procurement policy begins to take effect. Furthermore, increased supply of imported timber is likely to counteract the "chicken and egg" effect whereby limited supply has undermined retailers' efforts to specify certified wood. These developments will increase the pressure on UK woodland owners to have their woods certified, and limit the markets for non-certified product.

  4.19  Some UK processors of wood are already beginning to refuse to buy uncertified material. There are strict rules on the effective separation of certified and non-certified material, and while a mill can handle both, it is both cheaper and easier to handle only certified timber.

  4.20  The wood processing industry and retailers also have an important part to play and the Commission is working with them to promote public understanding of sustainable forest management and the link to sustainably produced forest products. At present there is not much evidence of demand for certified products by the public—as opposed to the retailers, although the labels clearly help to raise the level of awareness of sustainable forestry.

  4.21  Although certification is a high profile route to promoting sustainable forest management, a lot of work will still need to be done through the Forestry Commission and its Woodland Grant Scheme. The WGS is widely acknowledged as an effective mechanism for promoting sustainable forest management on the basis of the UK Forestry Standard. The Forestry Commission is reviewing its administration, regulation and grants in the light of certification and the need to encourage many more owners to go in for certification. It is unlikely that certification will appeal to all woodland owners, and many woods are not actively managed.


  5.1  Pan-European Criteria and Indicators (C&I) for Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) were agreed during the 1990s. Many countries have now published their own national reports on C&I for SFM. The Pan-European C&I are now being reviewed by international working groups (with FC participation), in a process that is due to be completed by June 2002.

  5.2  UK Sustainable Development Indicators were published in December 1999 as "Quality of Life Counts". They include two indicators for forestry in the UK—total area of woodland and area of ancient semi-natural woodland—and a third indicator to be developed for forest management.

  5.3  A draft set of UK Indicators of Sustainable Forestry is now being developed. These national-level indicators provide information about the current state, and trends over time, of woodlands and their management. They monitor forestry's contribution to sustainable development, expanding upon the forestry indicators in "Quality of Life Counts". They also form part of the programme of monitoring of sustainable forest management, as outlined in the UK Forestry Standard (FC, January 1998). There is now an opportunity for the indicators to evolve from the concepts set out in the Standard.

  5.4  In 1999 the Forestry Commissioners agreed that a set of UK Forestry Indicators should be developed, based on the UK Forestry Standard and the Pan-European Process, and also relevant to the country Forestry Strategies. The proposed indicators have been subject to wide consultation. A consultation draft was developed during 2000, and issued for external expert consultation in March 2001. During the consultation period, workshops were run at Bromsgrove and Antrim, to discuss the possible indicators.

  5.5  A set of indicators was then developed, taking account of the expert comments and views on priorities, and liaising with those who may be able to provide relevant data. This was issued in February 2002 for public consultation, seeking responses by 2 May. Respondents' views will be taken into account in further development of the indicators, aiming to have them ready for publication by the end of June 2002.

  5.6  Where possible, we want to use existing sources of data. The choice of indicators was influenced by the availability of data, but some important topics for which we do not currently have data (eg loss of woodland) are included in the proposed indicators. Consultations and other discussions with experts have identified or clarified the prospect of using other data sources, although some may require enhancement to produce adequate data for Indicators of Sustainable Forestry. The National Inventory of Woodland is likely to be one of the main data sources. New data collections, particularly for environmental data, may require substantial additional resources. The priorities for additional data for monitoring are being addressed in the current spending review. Any proposals will have to be assessed on their merits, taking account of their value as part of the set of indicators, their costs and availability of funding, and their opportunity costs (what may have to be given up to get them).

  5.7  Where possible, all indicators published in the UK Indicators of Sustainable Forestry should be broken down to show information for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The publication will not give data for smaller geographic areas, such as regions or local authority areas.

  5.8  The indicators have been grouped into five categories. Each category contains 7-10 indicators, giving a total of 38 indicators. A single indicator can incorporate information from more than one data source.


A.  Woodland

1.  Area of woodland

2.  Tree Species

3.  New woodland

4.  Loss of woodland

5.  Area of managed forest

6.  Area of each management type

7.  Woodlands in landscape

B.  Biodversity

1.  Ancient woodland

2.  Native woodland

3.  Native woodland condition

4.  Richness of fauna

5.  Richness of flora

6.  Natural regeneration of woodland

7.  Diversity of woodland within a stand

C.  Condition of forest and environment

1.  Air pollutants

2.  Crown density

3.  Damage by fire and wind

4.  Other damage

5.  River habitat quality

6.  Soil chemistry

7.  Water quality

8.  Surface water acidification

9.  Water yield and stream flows

10.  Pollution incidents

D.  Timber and other forest products

1.  Volume of growing stock

2.  Harvesting compared with annual increment

3.  Timber production and future availability

4.  Home-grown as % of comsumption

5.  Carbon storage

6.  Economics of forestry

7.  Value added in wood processing

E.  People & Forests

1.  Visits to woodland

2.  Extent of open public access

3.  Employment in forestry and related activities

4.  Accidents in forest workforce

5.  Value of social & environmental benefits

6.  Historic environment

7.  Public awareness and community involvement




  5.9  Paper copies of the full consultation document are being made available to the Committee.


  6.1  The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has three objectives: the conservation of biological diversity; the sustainable use of its components; and access to genetic resources and equitable sharing of the benefits of their use. The Sixth Conference of the Parties (COP6) to the Convention was held from 7 to 19 April. It adopted 32 Decisions on a wide range of issues relevant to the Convention's objectives. Principal among these were the adoption of:

    —  a strategic plan for the implementation of the Convention;

    —  guiding principles and a work programme on invasive alien species;

    —  guidelines on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing;

    —  an expanded work programme on forest biological diversity.

  6.2  Other decisions included the adoption of a Global Plant Conservation Strategy; a work programme for a Global Taxonomy Initiative, and a decision on indigenous and local communities. The Ministerial declaration included a message to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. It included a call to guide actions on ethical principles, to halt biodiversity loss by 2010 and a commitment to halting deforestation. The Ministerial declaration, all decisions (including the Expanded Programme of Work on Forest Biological Diversity) are available on the Convention website (

  6.3  The Expanded Programme of Work on Forest Biological Diversity covers a comprehensive range of goals, objectives and activities under the three key elements:

    (i)  Conservation, sustainable use and benefit sharing;

    (ii)  Institutional and socio-economic enabling environment;

    (iii)  Knowledge, assessment and monitoring.

  6.4  The programme of work reinforces the need for action in a number of areas in which the UK is actively engaged, such as forest law enforcement and associated illegal trade, restoration and monitoring. It recognises the need to take urgent action in ecologically significant forests and those most important for biological diversity, where forest biodiversity is threatened.

  6.5  The expanded programme of work is a considerable step forward from the original programme. It covers activities such as practical methods, guidelines, indicators and strategies to apply the ecosystem approach; review and implementation of forest and forest related laws, tenure and planning systems and address related trade.

  6.6  The decision requests to the Convention Executive Secretary to initiate action in the following areas:


    —  Ecosystem approach.

    —  Collaboration with other bodies/enabling environment.

    —  Cross-sectoral integration.

    —  Protected areas.

    —  Forest law enforcement and related trade.

    —  Sustainable use/benefit sharing.

    —  Servicing capacity-building.

  6.7  This work and that of other international and national organisations should catalyse further action at the national level and create more impetus for national implementation.

  6.8  The decision includes the elements for a process to review the implementation of the work programme. It was agreed that an expert group will be established to provide advice to the Executive Secretary and to the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice on the way in which the review of implementation would be undertaken. This will require further input to ensure effective monitoring of implementation.

May 2002


  The Timber Trades Federations launched their Code of Conduct on 25 April 2002 that includes an Environmental Code of Practice with an independent complaints procedure.

June 2002


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