At the international level FSC has developed its Principles and Criteria of responsible forest management. They apply to all forests, temperate, tropical and boreal, natural forests and plantations. Requirements include compliance with national legislation, respect for local use rights, maintenance of the ecological functions of the forest and its biodiversity, economic viability, and the need for an adequate management plan and monitoring of operations. To take local conditions into account FSC encourages the development of national standards of forest management in each country or region which interpret the international Principles and Criteria.
In the United Kingdom, FSC forest management certification is based on the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS). UKWAS was developed as a voluntary forestry standard in consultation with major social, environmental and forestry organisations in the UK. It is a national standard which is consistent with FSC Principles and Criteria whilst at the same time reflecting local ecological, social and economic circumstances. The standard is drafted in such a way as to refer to existing Forestry Commission standards and guidelines as far as possible. UKWAS does not provide a product label or chain of custody certification by itself but it has been designed to fit into other labelling systems such as FSC.
It should be noted that certification using UKWAS is only approved by FSC when an FSC accredited certification body carries out certification audits. However, many forest managers find it useful to use the standard to check for themselves how far they already meet FSC certification requirements.
From 1 April 2018, forest management certificate holders in the UK will begin the transition from FSC-STD-GBR-02-2011 to FSC-STD-GBR-03-2017, i.e. from UKWAS 3.1 to UKWAS 4. See the copies of the standard and the factsheet Moving to the New FSC Forest Stewardship Standard below.