This piece is an extract from our Forestry Features newsletter, which is emailed out at 4PM every Wednesday with a round-up of the week's top stories. 

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THIS week, the fifth edition of the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) was published, with a promise to "promote sustainable forestry". 

Enforced across all four nations, the Standard has been updated to "reflect improvements in scientific knowledge, developments in international approaches to forestry, new or amended legislation, and new information about best forestry practice".

READ MORE: New UK Forestry Standard unveiled to 'promote sustainable forestry'

A 12-month transition period is in place to allow guidance to be overhauled, users to become familiar with the new edition, and draft woodland plans to be finalised.

But what does it all actually mean for foresters and woodland managers? 

A brief look at the changes

Forestry Journal:

Like most 2023 endeavours, sustainability is very much at the heart of the latest UKFS, which has been designed with the multi-faceted uses of the UK's woodlands in mind. 

Deer control, tree pests and diseases, and biosecurity have also been placed front and centre under the new guidance. 

Some key changes surround: 

  • Species selection. The maximum proportion of a single species specified should be reduced from 75 per cent to 65 per cent. This, forestry officials say, is partly to tackle tree pests and diseases, such as Phytophthora ramorum. 

Forestry Journal:

  • Deer management. Foresters will be required to use deer management plans more widely to reduce browsing pressure and enable the use of natural regeneration in more woodland. 
  • Biosecurity. Where necessary, good practice requirements have been amended or added to encourage more direct action to ensure forests remain, healthy, vibrant habitats providing timber and a range of environmental benefits. For example, under the new standard, managers are required to plan and implement biosecurity measures across land they manage to reduce the risk of introducing or spreading pests and diseases.

What have forestry chiefs said? 

Rural Affairs Secretary at the Scottish Government, Mairi Gougeon, said: “Scotland has ambitious plans to expand its forests to tackle the twin crises of climate change and nature loss.

We need to drive this expansion in a careful and considered way, ensuring our forests are sustainable and that the right trees are in the right place. The UK Forestry Standard underpins all this important work and will be vital when creating plans for new forests."

Forestry Commission chief executive, Richard Stanford, said: “The UK Forestry Standard is a vital resource – supporting foresters with the tools needed to manage our forests sustainably.  Our woods and forests must remain resilient, healthy and vibrant to tackle climate change, providing habitats, timber and a range of wider environmental benefits.

Forestry Journal: Mairi GougeonMairi Gougeon

“Today’s refresh will continue to support a coordinated, sustainable approach to forestry across our four nations to create forests and woodlands that are resilient to climate change and pests and diseases to help meet net-zero ambitions.”

When do the changes come into effect? 

Following publication of the new edition, a transition period will be put in place until the 1 October 2024, after which the new fifth edition must be followed.