Wool growers, processors, designers and retailers in the UK, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand are being urged to sign a new commitment to high environmental and animal welfare standards.

Launched last month at the first ever Wool Conference in Scotland, the so-called Dumfries House Wool Declaration is a promise by The Campaign for Wool's Commonwealth funders – the British Wool Marketing Board, Australian Wool Innovation/The Woolmark Company, Cape Wools South Africa and the Campaign for Wool New Zealand – to commit their time, efforts and talent to promoting the natural benefits and properties of wool.

Integral to the declaration is the commitment to upholding and enforcing the 'Five Freedoms of the Sheep,' the strictest standards of animal welfare as embodied in the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) specifications for sheep welfare.

"In subscribing to the Dumfries House Wool Declaration, the wool industry and its members commit to care about the welfare of the wool sheep and the environment it lives in," said

Peter Ackroyd, COO at the Campaign for Wool and president of the IWTO. "This declaration formalises the standards the complete wool pipeline aspires to."

Launched by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales in January 2010, The Campaign for Wool is an initiative to expand the market for British and Commonwealth wool and to promote awareness of its environmental benefits.

It has so far been successful in increasing wool prices and promoting the unique qualities of wool over other fabrics, particularly oil-based manmade fibres.

The Prince of Wales has also committed to a further five years as patron of the initiative, stating: "I am going to do everything I possibly can to build on the success we have achieved, thus ensuring that wool receives proper recognition for all its wonderful, natural attributes."

Separately, commitment to the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) is also growing, with 15 brands and suppliers supporting supporting its goals to provide the industry with a benchmark for animal welfare and land management practices in sheep farming, as well as improved traceability.

Growing commitment to Responsible Wool Standard