Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification

PEFC is the world's largest forest certification organisation

Sustainable Forest Management & Certification

Forests contain some of the most valuable and bio-diverse ecosystems on the planet. Without forests, vital functions would be lost, while many of the species which rely on forests would also be endangered or disappear.

Sustainable Forest Management can contribute towards preserving forests and forest bio-diversity thereby strengthening their resilience and enabling them to adapt and mitigate for climate change impacts. By obtaining PEFC Sustainable Forest Management certification, forest owners and managers can contribute to combating climate change.

D Leslie at forest

Implementing sustainable forest management as defined by PEFC, ensures that forests remain the most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystems on the planet, and that society’s forest needs and demands will be met in the long term.

With only 10% of the world’s forests certified to any certification system, one of the most important challenges that global forest leaders face is expanding the globally certified forest area. While about 45% of all forests in the UK are certified, the remainder of our forests still remain uncertified.

As estimated one in five people worldwide are believed to depend on forests and the services they provide for their livelihoods.
Today, the imperative for sustainability and increased environmental awareness means that there is a desire by responsible companies to demonstrate that they are operating sustainably. 

Companies have long recognised that sourcing and using PEFC-certified timber does not only contribute to safeguarding the world’s forests, but also assists in improving one’s sustainability credentials and the overall reputation of wood as an environmentally sound raw material.


PEFC has developed robust mechanisms to ensure the participation and inclusion of family and community owned forests in forest certification everywhere. PEFC has paid special attention to their needs and their specific cost and operating structures to ensure that forest certification is accessible to all. In order to best respond to cost challenges, PEFC UK has developed a series of certification mechanisms appropriate for the UK context.

Publications and Guidance include: 

Promoting Sustainable Forest Management
Your Assurance of Responsible Sourcing

Individual Certification

This is where an individual forest owner or other enterprise seeks certification for the woodland it owns or manages. This method is available for any size and type of woodland or forest.

However, an individually owned certificate may be particularly appropriate or the preferred option for larger management units – for example, a traditional private estate with a number of forest areas or a single large woodland within a single ownership.

Certification bodies operating are required to have clearly documented procedures for the assessment of individual certification applicants including all the key elements and components.

Group Certification

To overcome the challenge of high certification costs incurred by individual certification, PEFC has developed and popularised the concept of Group Certification as a means by which several forest owners or managers can be certified together under a formally identifiable “Group,” rather than as individual entities.

The fundamental basis of group certification under the Scheme is that all members of the group must formally commit to complying with all the requirements of UKWAS in respect of all forests areas included within the scope of the particular group Scheme concerned.

Administrative and forest management policies that are relevant to the whole group (e.g. management planning, monitoring) may be implemented by the Group Entity or by individual Group Members. Requirements of UKWAS that are implemented at the local forest level (e.g. species choice, felling design, management of biodiversity etc) must be satisfied by each individual group member. 

Responsibilities for meeting elements of the UKWAS may not be “traded” between different group members or forest areas – e.g. with one group member meeting all biodiversity criteria whilst another member does not meet any.

There are various categories of “groups” for which group certification under the Scheme might be suitable, including:

  • formal or informal co-operative of neighbouring or other forest owners
  • forest owners association or sub-set of the association
  • forest manager/private practitioner or forest management company or other management practice managing woodlands on behalf of different owners
  • timber marketing co-operative.

Resource Manager Certification

The basis of Resource Manager Certification is that each woodland owner that wishes to be included under the Resource Manager certificate (the “Client Group”) must make a contractual commitment to have their forest areas managed in accordance with the requirements of UKWAS. The Resource Manager then implements this commitment on behalf of the Client Group.

Administrative and forest management policies relevant to the whole Client Group (e.g. management planning, monitoring) must be implemented consistently by the Resource Manager, but allowing for variations in forest types and individual owners’ management objectives. However, responsibilities for meeting elements of UKWAS cannot be “traded” between different Client Group members’ forest areas e.g. with one client’s forest area meeting all biodiversity criteria whilst another client’s forest area does not meet any.