New UKFS edition released after comprehensive review

By Sam Guthrie, Forester

A new (5th) edition of the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) has been published following an extensive review process.

This latest update reflects the improvements in scientific knowledge, developments in international approaches to forestry, new or amended legislation, and new information about best forestry practice.

Enforced across all four UK nations, the UKFS is the reference standard for all foresters to follow, ensuring new forests and woodlands are sustainable – balancing environmental, economic, and social interests. It applies to all woodland, regardless of who owns or manages it.

A prerequisite for the approval of forest plans, felling and replanting operations, woodland creation proposals and forestry grants, is that forest owners, managers and contractors are responsible for ensuring that forest operations and activities are delivered in accordance with the UKFS.

Additionally, the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) certification builds on the foundations set out by the UKFS. Benefits of achieving certification can include higher prices and easier movement of certified timber.

But what does it all mean for forest managers?

As you might expect given government emphasis on tackling climate change and nature loss, sustainability is front and centre of this refresh, with biosecurity, tree pests and deer control at the heart of this new edition.

Importantly, the guidance aims to make forests more resilient to a changing climate and the increased risk of pests and diseases so they can continue to deliver multiple benefits.

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 to help meet net-zero ambitions.

 Key changes include:

  • The maximum proportion of a single species specified will be reduced from 75% to 65%. This will further diversify the range of species in woodland creation and restocking. Forest Plans submitted after October 1st 2024 will be required to show a transition to the new proportions over time.

  • Requirements to use deer management plans more widely to reduce browsing pressure to acceptable levels and enable the use of natural regeneration.

  • Requirements to plan and implement biosecurity measures across managed land to reduce the risk of introducing or spreading pests and diseases.

A 12-month transition period is now in place to allow guidance to be updated, users to become familiar with the new edition, and draft woodland plans to be finalised. It will be applied from October 1st 2024.

The new (5th) edition of the UKFS is available on the Scottish Forestry website.

Our people

Sam Guthrie

Sam Guthrie

Forester
Forestry Management
Tel: 01738 621 121

About: Sam works across Scotland with a focus on delivering woodland management projects on the ground for a range of corporate and private clients. He has seven years’ experience in the sector and began his forestry career as a planter. Sam is currently studying for a PDA in Forestry Operations from the Scottish School of Forestry. Interests: Woodland Creation, Silviculture, Ecological Restoration.

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    Harnessing financial opportunities: Landowners and carbon offset strategies in woodland creation schemes

    By Stuart McArtney, Forest Manager

    In the global effort to mitigate climate change, carbon offsetting has emerged as a critical tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Landowners, especially those with large expanses of undeveloped land, are presented with unique financial opportunities through participation in woodland creation schemes. However, as with any burgeoning market, there are considerations and potential pitfalls that demand careful navigation to ensure sustainable and ethical practices.

    Carbon offsetting involves compensating for one’s carbon footprint by investing in projects that reduce or capture an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Woodland creation schemes, a subset of carbon offset programs, focus on planting trees to sequester carbon and enhance biodiversity.

    Landowners can benefit financially from participating in woodland creation schemes through various mechanisms. Governments often offer incentives such as grants and subsidies to convert their properties into carbon sinks. These financial incentives can significantly offset the costs associated with planting and maintaining woodlands.

    Investing in land for the explicit purpose of carbon offsetting has become an attractive option for environmentally conscious investors and businesses. However, the acquisition process requires careful consideration of ecological factors, regulatory requirements, and long-term commitment. Sustainable practices must be prioritised to ensure the effectiveness of the carbon offsetting initiative.

    Distorting the market:

    As the demand for carbon offsetting increases, there is a risk of market distortion. Some critics argue that the commodification of carbon may lead to speculative practices, where land is acquired solely for financial gain rather than genuine environmental impact. This raises concerns about the sincerity of carbon offset projects and the potential for greenwashing.

    Ensuring ethical practices:

    To maintain the integrity of woodland creation schemes, landowners must adopt ethical and sustainable practices. This may include selecting native tree species, implementing proper land management techniques, and engaging with local communities. Transparency and accountability in reporting carbon sequestration efforts are crucial to building trust in the market.

    Collaboration and Certification:

    Landowners should consider collaborating with reputable organisations and obtaining certification through the Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) to provide assurance that projects adhere to rigorous environmental and social criteria.

    In conclusion, the financial opportunities for landowners in the realm of carbon offsetting, particularly through woodland creation schemes, are vast. However, it is essential for stakeholders to approach this market with a commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. By carefully navigating the complexities of acquisition, market dynamics, and ecological considerations, landowners can play a pivotal role in combatting climate change while reaping the financial rewards of responsible carbon offset initiatives.

    • Bell Ingram offers a comprehensive range of specialist forestry services to clients across Scotland. To find out more go to our website bellingram.co.uk or phone 01738 621 121 to speak to a member of our forestry team.

    Our people

    Stuart McArtney

    Stuart McArtney

    Associate, BSc For MICFor
    Forestry Management
    Tel: 01738 621 121

    About: Stuart is a highly experienced Forest Manager working across Scotland advising private, corporate and public sector clients on all aspects of forestry and project management. Stuart joined Bell Ingram in 2014 and specialises in new woodland creation schemes. He is also highly experienced in GIS mapping. Interests: Forestry, Mapping & GIS Services, Woodland Management.

    Get in touch

    We'd love to hear from you, use the form below to email me direct

      Forestry: Multiple benefits even in a quieter market

      It seems 2023 has been a quieter year for forestry sales, with fewer properties being brought to the open market and agreed sales not seeing such high premiums paid as in the previous few years. One reason for this will be the fall in timber prices, which is obviously linked to the price paid for the growing crop – if returns from timber sales fall, plus there are increased harvesting costs resulting from higher fuel and other related costs, then the price investors are willing and able to pay has to reduce.

      Sellers looking to secure high premiums need to be advised to consider the need to sell now or to readjust expectations, even if this is just in the short term. However, global demand for timber in the next 30 years is likely to continue to increase, partly based on the high sustainability of it within the construction industry, and it is well known that timber prices can be somewhat cynical – playing the long game should pay dividends. 

      As a long-term investment, forestry remains a good bet, underlined by advantages in both capital gains and inheritance tax liabilities for commercially managed woodlands. Natural capital, carbon and peatland opportunities can also be secured from forestry, although the advice remains to exercise caution before jumping into deals which may hinder future flexibility, impact on the investment value or affect tax benefits.

      Elsewhere in the market small amenity woodlands continue to see constant demand. As an affordable, often personal, investment, small local woodlands offer benefits and interests, again with opportunities to enhance a property’s biodiversity, improve public access or offer other community benefits. Enthusiastic owners working with forestry and other nature-based advisors can make big differences to a woodland’s interests in a relatively short time, and if kept for many years, monitoring can really prove these changes.

      Finally, the need for firms to enhance their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by getting employees to put something back into the community and the environment, means charities like The Woodland Trust or Wildlife Trusts can benefit from free input from volunteers. Planting new trees, clearing out invasive Rhododendrons or putting in a new footpath route also help cement the public’s engagement with woods in their locality.  Bell Ingram foresters and land agents can advise clients on suitable works for volunteers. Our staff are indeed encouraged to put on their own boots for nature-based volunteering activities as part of our efforts for both internal team building and enhancing the environment – watch this space for evidence!

      Our people

      Sarah Tyson

      Sarah Tyson

      Partner, FRICS FAAV
      Rural Land Management
      Tel: 01738 621 121

      About: Sarah is an experienced rural property surveyor dealing with all types of valuations, renewable energy, estate management and property consultancy across Scotland . She is an Appointed Agent and Valuer for the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation providing competitive finance for farmers and landowners. Interests: AMC Services, Renewable Energy, Rural Land Management, Valuations, FRICS FAAV Registered Valuer.

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      We'd love to hear from you, use the form below to email me direct

        Forestry Grant Available for Scotland’s Farmers

        With 85% of farmland in Scotland classified as Less Favoured Area (LFA) and with current uncertainties over the future of agricultural subsidies, there are significant opportunities for landowners to maximise business productivity by adding value to underproductive land via woodland creation.

        New woodlands have the potential to create an additional sustainable long term income stream for your business and an important source of low carbon, low cost woodfuel, at the same time as realising tax, livestock and crop productivity and environmental benefits.

        Farmers looking to unlock the benefits of trees on their land can access £1000 funding from the Farm Advisory Service for woodland creation, which can now be used for Bell Ingram’s forestry services as Specialist Advisors to FAS.

        Bell Ingram’s Forestry team would be pleased to talk to anyone who would like to take advantage of the funding options available.

        Woodland Creation

        Bell Ingram works with clients who wish to undertake woodland creation projects and are able to offer a “one stop shop” encompassing the whole process from the initial design and grant approval stage, through to implementation, maintenance and final establishment.

        For larger schemes, we can also accommodate any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) requirements.

        Most recently Bell Ingram has successful secured a number of Locational Premium Schemes, allowing landowner concerned to benefit from the additional incentives on offer and find an alternative land-use for marginal agricultural land.

        To find out more about our forestry services in Scotland contact Geoff Brown on geoff.brown@bellingram.co.uk or 01292 886544.

        Our people

        Geoff Brown

        Geoff Brown

        Partner, MRICS ND For
        Utilities & Renewables
        Tel: 01292 886 544

        About: Geoff is the Service Head of Bell Ingram’s Forestry and Utilities (Scotland) services. He is both a RICS Chartered Surveyor and a fully qualified Forester with a focus on utility and infrastructure clients. Geoff’s expertise includes acquisitions, wayleave and servitude agreements and compensation claims, along with extensive experience of all aspects of woodland management for a range of corporate and private clients. His remit includes providing specialist forestry advice relating to new woodland creation, crop compensation losses, tree felling approval, standing sales and compensatory planting sites. Interests: Utilities & Renewables, Forestry, Corporate Estate Management.

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          Cairngorms National Park

          Balancing commercial timber harvesting with environmental constraints.

          Brief

          Bell Ingram has been managing a commercial woodland on the Cairngorms National Park, near Grantown-on-Spey, since 2011. Although timber production is the main objective, all harvesting operations have to take account of the rare flora and fauna species (specifically Twin Flower and Pine Hoverfly) within the woodland, as thinning intensity and coup sizes may have a dramatic effect on their survival. Forest managers have also been tasked with reinstating paths through the woodland after harvesting and installing new signage, gates and path network route information.

          Process

          Balancing commercial timber harvesting with environmental constraints can throw up unique challenges for forest managers who are operating on sites contained within national park boundaries. In this instance, close consultation with SNH, RSPB, Plantlife Scotland and the Cairngorms National Park continues to be paramount in co-ordinating management and harvesting techniques and timing of operations.

          Outcome

          The forest has won a number of plaudits including a Scotland’s Finest Woods Award. The site also hosted a seminar attended by representatives from the forest industry and environmental agencies to demonstrate good harvesting practices in relation to biodiversity. Going forward, close collaboration with local and national government agencies is the key to growing and harvesting good quality timber on this especially sensitive woodland site.

          Our people

          Jim Adam

          Jim Adam

          Associate
          Forestry Management
          Tel: 01224 621300

          About: Jim is a highly experienced forestry manager involved in all aspects of forestry management: from preparing and implementing forest plans to forecasting timber production and developing public access initiatives. He specialises in devising and supervising sustainable planting schemes to fulfil each client's specific objectives. Interests: Forestry, Mapping & GIS Services, Woodland Management

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            Article posted on 02/12/2019

            Woodland Creation With Protected Species

            Professional approach to a challenging ecological project.

            Brief

            Bell Ingram’s forestry team were tasked with managing a large scale woodland creation scheme in proximity to an established golden eagle territory. Given the birds’ iconic status as one of Scotland’s ‘Big 5’ species – they have strict legal protection in Scotland – this was a particularly sensitive job.

            Process

            Full regard to the presence of the protected species was adhered to throughout the entire project with all operations managed accordingly.  A golden eagle foraging survey was conducted to identify areas to avoid.  During the golden eagle breeding season activities had to be managed to ensure minimal disturbance to the birds.

            Outcome

            Bell Ingram was delighted, as was our client, that our expert forestry team professionally and skillfully managed the creation of this new woodland. The conditions were challenging, but the project was delivered with minimal disturbance to the golden eagles.

            Our people

            Jim Adam

            Jim Adam

            Associate
            Forestry Management
            Tel: 01224 621300

            About: Jim is a highly experienced forestry manager involved in all aspects of forestry management: from preparing and implementing forest plans to forecasting timber production and developing public access initiatives. He specialises in devising and supervising sustainable planting schemes to fulfil each client's specific objectives. Interests: Forestry, Mapping & GIS Services, Woodland Management

            Get in touch

            We'd love to hear from you, use the form below to email me direct

              Article posted on 29/11/2019

              Turning Deer Forest into a Profitable Commercial Unit

              Road building project and negotiating access over the third party land.

              Brief

              Our client presented Bell Ingram Forestry with the challenge of turning a deer forest into a profitable commercial unit. The only access to the woodland was over third party ground which presented significant problems for timber extraction.

              Process

              Our expert forest managers were able to negotiate access over the third party land to access timber. This was not the only access issue, with over 4km of roads having to be installed over the property, created with 3500 tonnes of stone drilled from the site. Furthermore two 5m span bridges were installed allowing the site to reach its commercial potential. Our professional staff were able to manage other issues as they arose on behalf of the client including management of diffuse pollution, resolution of a plant health notice and implementing necessary measures to address wildlife presence in the woodland.

              Outcome

              A fantastic result was achieved for the client with a substantive increase in the value of the site and through the investment in infrastructure were able to sell over 60% of the standing timber.

              Article posted on 29/11/2019