SOIL Association Certification Forestry (SACF) is celebrating success after claiming three new contracts to audit public forests across Great Britain, increasing its portfolio by 839,193 ha.

SACF will now audit on behalf of Natural Resources Wales, Forestry and Land Scotland and Forestry England for the next five years. The successful bids mean the certification body is now responsible for auditing and certifying all public woodland in England, Scotland and Wales to the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS).

This marks a 205% rise in the areas of UK woodland certified by SACF, increasing it to 1,247,806 ha. The forest cover in England alone is equivalent to the total area of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds combined.

Globally, Soil Association Certification’s certification portfolio now encompasses nearly 16 million ha in over 50 countries, certifying over 3,000 clients to PEFC and FSC forest-management and chain-of-custody standards.
The contracts in numbers: Forestry and Land Use Scotland (470,000 ha added); Natural Resources Wales (124,000 ha added); Forestry England (245,193 ha added).

Kevin Jones, head of forestry at SACF, said: “Each of these organisations’ care for Britain’s woodlands chimes with Soil Association Certification’s ambitions for the natural environment across our forestry, organic and public procurement work. This is a big opportunity for us to help them to continue to responsibly manage forests to the highest standards, so that future generations can continue to enjoy accessible, wildlife-rich and productive forests for years to come.”

James Simpson, Forestry England’s director of operations – forestry and land management, said: “We’re really looking forward to working with Soil Association Forestry as our new UKWAS certification auditors. As the largest land manager in England we are very aware of the challenges which we face in terms of a very diverse estate, stakeholder demands which sometimes compete, and the need to plan decades into the future so that our woodlands are resilient in the face of environmental change. Forest certification helps us to meet these challenges and make our forests fit for the next 100 years.”

Simon Hodgson, chief executive of Forestry and Land Scotland, said: “Our mission is to look after Scotland’s national forests and land for the benefit of all, now and for the future. Sustainability and environmental good practice are at the heart of all our work and the Soil Association’s long track record in certification will help us add value to our audit process.”