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Criteria & Indicators

Overview
Since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio, several national and international initiatives have been launched to improve our understanding of and progress toward sustainable forest management (SFM). The most comprehensive and potentially far reaching of these are the regional and international initiatives on criteria and indicators (C&I) for sustainable forest management, which now involve more than 150 countries.

Criteria are categories of forest values that society wishes to maintain, and indicators are quantitative or qualitative aspects of these criteria.

Never before have so many countries with such diverse forest interests and circumstances rallied around a common approach to assessing trends in forest conditions and forest management. These international criteria and indicators processes address sustainability at the national scale and seek, without judgment, to monitor national or regional trends in important elements of sustainability.

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Of all the criteria and indicators initiatives, the Montreal Process is geographically the largest in representation, encompassing most of the world's temperate and boreal forests. Other initiatives include the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (Pan-European Process); the Tarapoto Proposal for Amazon Basin countries; the Central America, Near East and Dry Zone Africa regional initiatives and the International Tropical Timber Organization, which pioneered work on criteria and indicators for sustainable tropical forest management as early as 1990. The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has played a leading role in fostering the development of many regional criteria and indicators processes.

There are also criteria and indicators processes that address forest operations at the local level. There is a relationship between field management level criteria and indicators and national level criteria and indicators, but they are not one in the same. Field management unit level criteria and indicators are being developed to monitor the quality of forest management activities and may result directly or indirectly in the process of certifying field operations. In time, national level and field management unit level process will complement each other; however, there currently exists a fair degree of confusion between efforts at various scales due in part to the similarity of the terminology and the ultimate goal of assessing progress towards sustainable forest management.


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Background and Resource Sites
These sites provide a general understanding of criteria and indicators:


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Practitioner's Tips and Case Studies
The following sites provide technical resources and case studies of the use of national and state level criteria and indicators:

National and state level criteria and indicators
The following sites provide technical resources and case studies for the use of national level criteria and indicators:

National Level

State Level

Field management unit level criteria and indicators
The following are sites that deal with field management unit level criteria and indicators:


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