PEFC launches UK certification scheme for smaller forest owners

17 July 2015

A new forest certification scheme designed for small to medium sized forest owners has been launched by PEFC UK.

The new online forest certification system has been designed to help increase the UK’s certified forest area and boost the supply of certified material to the UK primary processing sector and its customers, the organisation said.

While PEFC forest certification has been established in the UK for five years, it has long been recognised that a cost-effective certification solution was required to enable smaller woodland owners to participate in certification.

Certified materials are now increasingly requested by a growing number of forest product users including retailers, the construction sector, energy suppliers and a growing number of consumers, making it ever-more important that forest owners are certified.

More than one million hectares of UK forests have been certified to PEFC’s sustainable forest management standard since 2010. This covers all the Forestry Commission forests in England, Scotland and Wales and 500 privately owned forest estates, including a number in Northern Ireland, managed through the Scottish Woodlands and UPM Tilhill forest Group Certification schemes.

Developed in conjunction with Dutch consultant Evan Buytendijk BV, PEFC UK said it is confident that the online forest certification system will act as an aid to group certification managers, to enable these schemes to function more efficiently, reduce costs and become a user-friendly means of assessing the compatibility of existing forest management plans with those required by UKWAS, and provide more consistent audits via a series of easy to follow online checklists.

“Forestry in the UK is entering an interesting phase,” said Alun Watkins, who heads up PEFC in the UK. “There is an ever-growing focus on homegrown material and the future will see large amounts of UK material entering the supply chain to fuel products such as new innovative engineered material and the biomass sector.

“It is really important that forest owners of all sizes seek to become certified as the market is now demanding responsible sourcing as the norm. Our new online tool assists with reducing the cumbersome paperwork generated by the sustainable forest management process and is designed to be user-friendly and provide an easy path for those seeking to become PEFC-certified.”