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Clear-felling and replanting in certified forests aids biodiversity, study finds

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Clear-felling and replanting in certified forests aids biodiversity, study finds

January 26
10:30 2013

Forestry practices, such as clear-felling, replanting, coppicing, and widening roads can help improve biodiversity, according to a new study commissioned by the Alliance of Beverage Cartons and the Environment UK (Ace UK)

The new study is called ‘Review of biodiversity impacts of practices typically undertaken in certified forests in Britain and Ireland’.

According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which undertook the desk-based study, these practices used in certified forests can help support a range of biodiversity, which wouldn’t be present if forests were planted as large monocultures and left unmanaged.

However, the study also highlights gaps in existing research, such as: a lack of data on the magnitude of additional benefits that can be derived from partaking in forest certification schemes; and a need for more research into the effectiveness of forest management for biodiversity enhancement that is aimed at specific groups of species.

The research, which was commissioned by Ace UK, reviewed published sources, to understand the sustainable forest management and planning practices, set out in the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS), and their impacts on biodiversity. In the UK, sustainable forestry can be independently certified by two schemes: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), both use UKWAS for their audits.

Carton manufacturers

According to the Ace UK, while the cartons made by Ace UK members – Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG Combibloc – are made primarily from wood from Nordic forests, as opposed to UK forests, as part of its continued commitment to environmental responsibility, the beverage carton industry was keen to support the RSPB in furthering understanding of the contribution of commercial forestry to biodiversity in Britain and Ireland, as well as how biodiversity can be improved.

Richard Hands, chief executive of Ace UK, said: “We believe that using renewable materials is preferable to using non-renewable ones where possible. It’s encouraging to see that the forestry industry’s efforts, verified through independent certification, not only ensure that forests can provide a renewable resource for generations to come, but that they can also deliver benefits for biodiversity.

“We hope the research findings will prove useful to all those sourcing wood-based materials who seek to understand more about enhancing biodiversity, and that more work will now be done to fill in the gaps in understanding that our study revealed.”

Paul Bellamy, a conservation scientist from the RSPB, added: “At a time of increasing demands for natural resources, such as wood and wood products, it is important that we leave space for biodiversity within forests. In managed forests, producing raw materials for industry, we can use our knowledge of the effects of management to maximise the value of these sensitive ecosystems.”

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