Confor demands reversal of FSC decision to reject UKWAS

11 November 2016

Confor is demanding that FSC International reverses its rejection of the revised UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS).

FSC International decided last month that UKWAS 4 – the latest revised draft of the UK’s FSC national standard – needed more work if it was to be approved as an FSC national forest stewardship standard.

It said the draft did not take sufficient account of FSC’s International Generic Indicators (IGIs).

“This is something we have to take seriously, as the IGIs are intended to contribute to global consistency among national standards,” it said.

Confor said the decision needed to be reversed quickly otherwise FSC could damage its reputation with the UK forestry sector.

“This rejection is baffling on many levels, particularly as FSC International’s strategy is calling for more locally adapted solutions and to focus on outcomes of forest management, and that’s just what we’ve done with this revision,” said Andrew Heald, Confor’s technical director.

“Confor is speaking to FSC International’s directors and asking them to review this decision urgently. It is essential that certification standards reflect local realities. A one size fits all standard for the whole world just won’t work.”

Dr Hans Joachim Droste, policy and standards director at FSC International, said the current version of FSC International’s “Principles and Criteria” is more specific in its requirements than the previous version, and there were areas where the draft UK standard did not fully address those requirements.

“We are confident that further refinements can be made and the standard reconsidered for approval within a reasonable timeframe."

The UKWAS Steering Group said it was “disappointed” by the decision but would work closely with FSC UK to identify the best way to conclude the revision.

“Our Steering Group will meet in early December to agree next steps. The options include making a formal appeal against this unexpected PSC decision,” it said.

The developments may delay the planned roll out of UKWAS 4, which was scheduled for the end of this year. But UKWAS 3.1 will remain valid as the FSC national forest stewardship standard for the UK in the interim.