Events News

Wednesday, 30 June 2021
What are forests for?

And how well is that reflected in FSC certification in the UK?

Thursday 12 August 2021, 15.00-16.30

Forests are valued in many different ways and for many different reasons by UK stakeholders, although there are also sometimes surprising degrees of overlap. So what are our forests for? Can we reconcile the full range of aspirations for them? And how well is that range of aspirations reflected in the standards used for FSC certification? These are the questions we’ll be exploring in a panel discussion hosted by FSC UK.


Rebecca Wrigley, Chief Executive, Rewilding Britain

Rebecca will be taking a primarily environmental stance. She says:

‘The UK and devolved governments have set themselves the target of achieving nature's recovery across 30% of the UK by 2030 as well as net carbon zero by 2050. Supporting the natural regeneration of our native woodlands alongside a mosaic of low-impact silviculture could make a significant contribution towards meeting these targets as part of a rewilding approach. This can, and should, happen in a way that benefits local communities through enhancing and diversifying rural jobs and incomes. So in answering question ‘what are forests for?’ we have to embrace complexity and start thinking about integrated landscapes, resilient communities and flourishing ecosystems. I feel that rewilding and restoring our wonderful, wildlife-rich woodlands and forests has a key role to play in this.’

Stuart Wilkie, Certification & Environment Manager, Scottish Woodlands

Stuart will be taking a primarily economic stance. He says:

‘Great Britain is one of the world’s top five importers of timber. The most recent statistics suggest that in 2019 we imported 25 million tonnes from around the world. As the UK’s demand for timber continues to increase, so does our overseas footprint. In a world trying to tackle climate change and global biodiversity losses, is this ethically or environmentally justified? We have an artificially low percentage tree cover in the UK, one of the lowest in Western Europe (13%) and our landscapes are more heavily deforested than most of the countries we regularly criticise for ongoing deforestation. ‘We need to stand up to our responsibilities and grow more sustainably produced timber. ‘So, is this what are forests for? It would be easy if the answer was as simple as that. There are so many competing demands for the different societal and environmental benefits that forests provide that to reconcile them all into a single achievable forest plan and still make the forest pay its way is what forest management is all about. That is precisely what makes the job of the professional forest manager so challenging but also so fascinating and ultimately rewarding.’

Maria Wilding, Programme Manager, Llais y Goedwig

Maria will be taking a primarily social stance. She says:

‘Forests are for people – whether the end goal is primarily economic, environmental or social, it’s important to make sure the people and communities that live and work in and around them have the ability to take an active part in their management and the decisions relating to them. The challenge is to make our forests multipurpose so they meet the increasing demands of people who want and should be able to benefit from them, while balancing the needs to supply timber and other woodland products where appropriate and protect more vulnerable areas for biodiversity. The key though is to take people with you at each step of the journey to learn, support and enjoy.’

Owen Davies, Forest Standards Manager, FSC UK

Owen will be setting out the ways in which he thinks FSC certification currently does – or does not – reflect this range of viewpoints.


The panel discussion will be chaired by FSC UK Board member Steve Jennings, a partner at 3Keel.


The panel discussion will be guided by questions submitted by attendees. You will be able to submit questions during the event using Slido.


Click here to register.

© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000231