1. Policy’s Purpose and Use

This policy details our ethical positions and provides tools to assist decision making where there are conflicting demands. The Woodland Trust is driven by ethical values and this policy influences many other policies governing how we work.

This policy is endorsed by the Management Team and the Board of Trustees and responsibility for its implementation lies with the Chief Executive.

2. Our Ethical Policy

The Woodland Trust exists to realise all the environmental, social and economic benefits woods and trees bring to society. Our vision is for a UK rich in native woods and trees, for people and wildlife. We will:

  • Protect woodland, fighting to defend native woodland, especially irreplaceable ancient woodland. We will work to challenge all further loss of ancient woodland from whatever cause.
  • Restore woodland, ensuring the restoration of all damaged ancient woodland and the recreation of native wooded landscapes.
  • Create woodland, championing the need for tree planting and woodland expansion to create more resilient landscapes and secure the future of the UK’s native trees and woodland.

In doing this we will act in an ethical manner in line with our ethical values.

Our work entails us working with a diverse selection of organisations, from those we invest in, to those who supply us, to those who partner with us. We expect these organisations to respect and comply with the detail and the spirit of the ethical policy wherever possible and be clear to us where this is not possible so that we can act with integrity in our decision making.

This policy provides the context for a wide range of activities at the Woodland Trust including investment decisions, procurement decisions, corporate partnerships, influencing and our own activity inside the organisation.

3. Key principles

The following principles act as a framework within which we will implement our ethical values:

  • Pragmatic and realistic: our ethical values are firmly rooted in the real world, recognising that in some cases there will be conflicting demands or dilemmas, and a need to balance many differing aspects (for example, financial, ethical, environmental and reputational).
  • Balance between positive and negative action: in some cases our response to an ethical issue will be “negative” i.e. we will not work with/buy from/invest in an organisation. In other cases we may determine that we can exert a “positive” influence on such an organisation, therefore we may work with them in order to seek to influence a change in behaviour or policy on a specific area.

4. Ethical issues of concern for the Woodland Trust

We do not normally expect to transact with organisations involved in activities with a high ranking. Currently these activities are:

  • Loss of or damage to ancient or veteran trees or ancient woodland
  • Excessive climate change impacts – global
  • Excessive climate change impacts – local
  • Poor forestry practices
  • Unsustainably managed forests
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Poor wildlife management
  • Trade that could result in tree disease impacts
  • Inappropriate development impacting woodland habitats.

5. Policy coverage

The policy covers five main areas of work:

  1. Investment: The primary consideration of the investment policy is to maximise the total return from our investments without compromising our ethical values.
  2. Procurement: The primary consideration of the procurement policy is to achieve the best value purchase, without compromising our ethical values.
  3. Corporate partnerships: The primary consideration of the corporate partnerships policy is to maximise the value of corporate partnerships, without compromising our ethical values.
  4. Influencing: The primary consideration of the influencing policy is to ensure that working relationships with external bodies, aimed at changing their behaviour, are realistic, and that their residual core activities and impacts do not undermine our core goals and put us at risk of compromising our ethical values.
  5. Environmental: In carrying out its own activities the Woodland Trust seeks to minimise the adverse impact it makes on the environment.

Board approved: 18 September 2020