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Monday, 06 July 2020
New Interpretation on Priority Species

In response to a request from the UKWAS Interpretation Panel, FSC International has approved an interpretation on the use of the term ‘priority species’ in the UK national forest stewardship standard, familiar to most as UKWAS4.

The definition of priority species includes species categorised as Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List. This includes species present, but not native, in the UK such as Chinese water deer and a number of non-native conifer species relevant to UK forestry – while these species are at risk in their native range, their presence in the UK does not affect their conservation status. The wording of UKWAS 4 implies a requirement for a degree of protection for such species which is neither intended nor justified.

The interpretation clarifies that, for the purpose of our national forest stewardship standard, IUCN Red List species will qualify as priority species only if they are within or geographically close to their natural range as described by IUCN global or regional lists.

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