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Practices used in certified forests help improve biodiversity confirms RSPB study


Forestry practices, such as clear-felling and replanting, coppicing, and even widening roads and enlarging glades, can all have a positive effect on biodiversity in commercial forests, confirms a study commissioned by the Alliance of Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) UK.

According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which undertook the desk-based study, these practices 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.

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, commented on the findings: “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, commented: “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.

“This report highlights the limited nature of our understanding of biodiversity in managed forests. Although there were many reports on the effects of the main forest management cycle on birds, plants and some insects, other important groups such as fungi had not been studied at
all. There were also no studies on the effectiveness of management guidelines aimed at improving the wildlife value of forests.”

Charles Thwaites, MBE, Executive Director of FSC UK, adds: “We are grateful to ACE UK for commissioning this very valuable study into the impact on biodiversity of the sustainable management of UK woodlands. Traditionally, FSC UK has assisted on laying down appropriate guidelines for owner/managers; we therefore find it very heartening that this report appears to vindicate the efforts of all those who take up the challenge.” 

A copy of the full research report is available here.

A summary booklet of the report is available here.


For further information, please contact:

ACE UK: Fiona McAra

Tel: +44 (0)1869 353806


RSPB: Laura Stevens

Tel: +44 (0)1767 693312


Notes to Editors

About RSPB

The RSPB is a UK charity working to secure a healthy environment for birds and other wildlife, helping to create a better world for us all. The RSPB is stepping up for nature by saving birds, protecting special places, educating people about the natural world around them and campaigning for a better environment.

For more information visit

About ACE UK

The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) UK represents Tetra Pak, SIG Combibloc and Elopak, the leading manufacturers of beverage cartons for the UK market. It is supported by Korsnäs and Stora Enso, which produce about 98% of the paperboard used by ACE UK members in beverage cartons in Europe. ACE UK provides a platform for the industry to profile and benchmark cartons as a renewable, recyclable and low-carbon packaging choice, and to drive industry-wide environmental initiatives. This includes the industry’s carton recycling programme.

For more information visit

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