Criterion 7 and associated indicators relate to the overall policy framework of a country that can facilitate the conservation and sustainable management of forests. Included are the broader societal conditions and processes often external to the forest itself but which may support efforts to conserve, maintain, or enhance one or more of the conditions, attributes, functions, and benefits captured in criteria 1-6. No priority or order is implied in the listing of the indicators.
A nation=s legal framework can mandate sustainable forest management on federally-controlled lands, maintain a fair system of property rights, foster good management on private lands through incentive systems, and value and protect the unique knowledge, methods of forest management, cultural interpretation of forests by indigenous people and traditional communities.
The legal framework in the United States
In the U.S., the national, state, and local levels all impact the state of the environment through the actions of the legislative, executive and judicial branches at each levels. Federal and state governments regulate the public's rights to use federal and state lands. Some of the important pieces of federal legislation for protecting natural resources with unique cultural, social environmental or scientific values include:
Other important legislation mandates public involvement in the decision-making process and management of natural resources on federal lands. The Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Forest Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 (RPA), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, and the National Forest Management Act of 1976 (NFMA) are the principle laws mandating public participation in forest management. NFMA requires each forest to develop an integrated 10-year forest plan. The public assists in identifying issues and concerns and comments on the plan=s management proposals developed in the plan. Advisory committees, established under the guidelines of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (FACA), are another vehicle for public input on such issues as wild and scenic rivers, national trails, and urban forestry.
The Federal government does not directly regulate activities on state and private land. However, federal agencies often participate in resource management decisions at all levels and, in some cases provide incentives through technical and financial assistance to encourage and facilitate better practices.
State regulation: The role of state and local governments include regulating property rights for privately-owned lands and administering federal laws that affect private property rights. State laws that govern forest practices on private lands in various manners include coastal zone management acts, clean air acts, hazardous waste removal laws, pesticide and insecticide laws, worker safety laws, and endangered species laws. These laws may apply directly or indirectly to state, federal, or other government lands. Public lands also have a host of other unique legislation and regulations that govern their forest practices and management.
More specifically, as of 1992, 644 individual forest regulatory rules had been enacted in the United States. Of these, 117 were enacted at the state level, 170 were enacted at the county or parish level, and 357 were enacted at the municipal or township level. Examples of county ordinances include those to control erosion and stream sedimentation, and to protect county roads and bridges from damage by logging trucks. Urban or municipal ordinances include those to protect shade trees and greenbelts, to prescribe silvicultural practices, and to limit hours of operation for heavy equipment.
By 1996, 38 states had at least one program that regulates the application of forest practices on private forest land. Ten states--Alaska, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington--have comprehensive forest practice regulatory programs. The legislative intent of these laws is to protect forest soils, fisheries, wildlife, water quality and quantity, recreation, and scenic beauty, and at the same time maintain an economic atmosphere that promotes a healthy wood-based industry. The forest practice rules in state forest practice laws include general administrative procedures required for landowners to perform forestry operations; standards for timber harvesting, transportation, reforestation, sensitive resources protection; and enforcement procedures.
Other regulatory trends include increasing numbers of states with laws to mitigate long term impacts. This contrasts with prior regulations set forth by administrative agencies. Incorporation of long-term environmental effects have been considered and laws addressing them have been implemented in some states, especially in the west. Increases in regulations add a considerable cost for state agencies; and for private land owners in their forest management. The regulations are also expected to reduce available timber supplies and increase timber prices over the long term.
Areas for further research: There is data on the U.S. laws, regulations and incentive programs regarding management practices on forests, though it may be inconsistent and incomplete. Further, there is data on property rights, planning, public participation, and the preservation of unique cultural or historic values of forest lands. Earlier sections of the First approximation report deal with the data on the biophysical conditions of the land base of the U.S. However, a synthesis of these data sets is necessary to determine a) how the legal framework has thus far impacted, hindered or fostered sustainable forest management on federal, state and private forest lands; b) the most effective way to adapt or revise that framework to ensure sustainable forest management now and in the future. It is expected that some combination of regulatory actions, cost sharing arrangements laws, and incentive programs will prove most effective. But without a thorough analysis of the effects of the existing systems on the biophysical conditions, it is difficult to describe the optimal mix of these actions.
While research has identified ways to increase and improving public participation in the planning of natural resource management, there is a great need for assessing the quality of that input in terms of representativeness (i.e., is the range of the public participating broad and inclusive or narrow?) And the impact of participation on practices and ultimately, the long term health of the resource base. The type of public input as well as methods for eliciting it are crucial areas for further inquiry. It is possible that the process of public input may have mixed results on the long term natural resource management. Critics argue that efforts to include the public in forest management are overly bureaucratic and time-consuming. Further, they argue that informing the public contrasts greatly with involving the public in decision-making. Many believe that without involvement of local communities in the design, implementation and evaluation of forest plans, sustainable management of the forests is impossible.
INDICATOR 48: Extent to which the legal framework clarifies property rights, provides for appropriate land tenure arrangements, recognizes customary and traditional rights of indigenous people, and provides means of resolving property disputes by due process.
Present land and property use patterns in the U.S. are result from the American legal system, the nation=s cultural values and the free market economy. Thus, analysis of the impact of the U.S. laws, economic conditions and its heterogenous cultural traditions on forest management are important to understanding Indicator 48.
Underlying the four components of this indicator is a set of assumptions:
- that property rights are determined by means of due process.
The property rights relevant to the sustainability of forests and other natural resources include: the ability to exclude or control access; dispose, alienate, or transfer; manage or manipulate; use, withdraw, consume, transform; and enjoy. Property rights in the United States are protected by due process (the administration of law in the courts of justice) and restricted by police powers of the state. In addition, each level of government maintains powers of taxation, eminent domain, and escheat.
The most important sources of definition and clarification on property rights are contained in the judicial case law and its interpretations. Legislation on and regulation of property rights has generally been directed toward the administration of public lands and resources (Table 8-1). Increasingly, legislation and regulation have applied to cases which formerly might have been considered common pool or open access resources.
In general, data gathering has been less consistent and comprehensive for the property rights and distribution of forest land than that for agricultural land. However, there are periodic surveys and censuses which provide quantitative data on the trends in forest land ownership. Most of the data are found in government documents, legal casebooks and databases, and from private sources. Although considerable data is available in raw form, analysis of it has not always been uniform. For example, state foresters do not maintain comparable records on public and private forest land holdings. Another example is that the periodic Forest Inventory Analysis conducted by the US Forest Service does not specifically address ownership patterns. In general, there is more data on large scale private forest and farm land holdings than for small holdings.
Table 8-1: Rights, responsibilities, and rules in five property regimes
One category of property rights which deserves special attention is land held in trust for Native American people. The United States has a trust responsibility to protect, conserve, utilize, manage, and enhance Indian forest land, including its economic and other benefits in perpetuity. This responsibility includes the provision of essential primary and secondary forest roads. Despite this federal responsibility, Indian tribal lands are considered private lands. In 1990, Indian forest lands totaled more than 15,990,000 acres, 36 percent of which consisted of commercial forest land and 54 percent of which is woodland.
There are four overarching trends in the evolution of property rights in the U.S.
1) There is an increase in the regulatory, legislative, and judicial actions that diminish or expand the property rights of forest rights advocates. Although the United States has one of the most highly developed property rights systems, the number of federal, state, and local policies and regulations that affect the actions of property holders concerning forests and other natural resources has rapidly multiplied in the postwar era. As a result, property owners are uncertain of restrictions on certain activities, increased transaction costs, risks of civil and criminal penalties, and overlapping governmental jurisdictions. Such uncertainties can be perceived as deterrents to sustainable forest management practices when the confusion results in unsustainable investment decisions. On the other hand, as uncertainties decrease through the development of consistent case law, long-term forest management may improve. Voluntary adoption of Best Management Practices across diverse property regimes is providing alternatives to increased regulation of property rights and responsibilities.
2) There is significant change in patterns of ownership and use on forest lands. Ownership and use patterns on forest land are changing in response to environmental and ecological concerns, economic conditions, inheritance and other transfer patterns, and alternative possessory titling systems. Tenure and related legal arrangements that support the long-term conservation and preservation of critical habitats are diversifying. Such arrangements include conservation easements, placement of lands in private and public land trusts, co-management of forest industry lands for conservation and research purposes, marketing of rights traditionally associated with property (e.g., development rights or pollution rights), and debt-for-nature or other types of land swaps. During the 1980s, nearly 500 land trusts were created, which produced a land trust population of about 1000. During the period 1972 through 1994, three nonprofit organizations alone transferred about 3.2 million acres to federal, state, or local governments or to other organizations or individuals through sales, donations, or exchanges for protection and management of their environmental values.
Institutional ownership of commercial timberlands is expanding because of regulatory changes, concurrent with the forest industry=s reexamination of the benefits of totally-integrated raw material and production facilities. Some believe that land concentration in the hands of industry may reinforce sustainable forest management practices.
Inheritance taxes are being revised in some states in order to reduce forest land fragmentation, enable family retention of nonindustrial private forest land, and to encourage application of sustainable forest management practices. This and other financial changes, combined with better legal services to disadvantaged forest landowners, may slow the process of land loss among certain minority and economically disadvantaged groups. Maintaining diversity of sustainable forest management practices among a mosaic of forest land owners may enhance cultural and social sustainability in rural forested communities.
3) There is a trend of increasing transformations in the valuation of goods and services from private, common, and public property, which provide incentives or disincentives for sustainable forest management. Recent changes in the valuation of goods and services derived from forests, as well as from common pool and formerly open-access resources, provide incentives for sustainable management practices in a variety of property regimes. Certain of these transformations affect annual, mid-term, and long-term income streams, thus influencing forest land ownership retention, alienation, and transfer patterns. Some examples include hunting leases, non-timber forest product collection, and tax or subsidy opportunities for protecting threatened and endangered species. Some of these are discussed in more detail under Criterion 6.
As common pool and open-access resources including air and water quality gain economic value and enter the marketplace, they evolve into common, private, or public properties, changing the duties and liabilities of right holders, right regarders, and right protectors. Trends in this area and more importantly, the effect of the forest health are too new to measure definitively as yet. However, many claim that when new types of resources enter the property domain with a set of long-term goals, more sustainable management of the forests may result.
4) Increasing autonomy of decision-making on Native American tribal lands over the last 26 years has the potential to influence forest ownership and management practices. Beginning with the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971, the trend in management of Native American forest land has moved steadily toward tribal autonomy and tribal determination of forest management practices. In 1990, the National Indian Forest Resources Management Act reinforced cooperative federal and tribal management and protection of Indian forest resources. Although it acknowledged a trust responsibility for Indian forest resources, it reinforced the claim that Indian forest lands were analogous to private forest lands, not to public domain lands. On the assumption that clear property rights in both forest land and the trees upon it foster sustainable management, then clarifying tribal property rights may encourage more sustainable forest land management
INDICATOR 49: Extent to which the legal framework provides for periodic forest-related planning, assessment, and policy review that recognizes the range of forest values, including coordination with relevant sectors.
This indicator examines how a society plans for the use of forest resources, founded upon the specific value assigned to alternative uses. Without planning and assessment, sustainable management is less likely feasible.
Planning is a central component of land and forest management. Each statute and administrative strategy governing land management incorporates planning. The planning guides individual discretionary decisions guided by explicit plan goals. All statutory schemes that govern any aspect of a forest, such as habitat and species protection, restrictions on use and silivicultural schemes, best management practices, and water protection laws, are plans to some extent. The schemes include analysis of forest health and use and prescribe actions to promote sustainable practices. Because the schemes govern a dynamic system, affecting federal, state and local governments, regions and private citizens, they are subject to periodic review and revision in the political and agency arenas.
Federal Planning, Assessment, and Policy Review: Historically, federal land management agencies planned a general strategy for their programs. Now, however, federal laws mandate and govern federal land use planning, resulting in more formal planning which is more extensive in process and substance than at any time in history. Individual managers have less discretion in deciding whether and how to plan.
Today, statutes require the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service to plan for their lands, though in different ways. Congress ordered that management decisions must be "consistent" or "in accordance" with formal plans for both agencies. However, the Forest Service is required to comply with relatively specific procedures in its planning while the BLM has only very general provisions guiding its work. Details about requirements for these planning processes are discussed under Indicator 54.
By contrast, the National Park Service (NPS) has a partial statutory planning requirement, and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), has none. Both agencies do prepare land use plans for a variety of uses though. These plans are similar to discretionary regulations, in that they guide officials but rarely dictate the specified result. They do, however, provide reviewing courts with standards against which to judge subsequent management actions for arbitrariness or capriciousness.
The Department of Defense also has a statutory requirement to prepare integrated natural resources management plans for military lands. This is spelled out in the Sikes Act (16 USC 670).
Planning at the State and Local Level: Over the past 10 years, 48 states have developed and implemented statewide forest resource plans, prompted by the Federal Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978. The forest resource plans are intended to be a state forestry organization's principal guiding document, providing long range direction, operation objectives or targets, and a budget framework that will assure coordinated and balanced implementation.
Programs designed to address the use and management of forest and range resources on the country's 800 million plus acres of non-federal land have several goals. They are to: encourage the efficient transfer of new technology and forest resource information to private forestry interests and state forestry organizations; increase the management efficiency of state forestry programs; and to assure that information from non-federal forest and range lands is effectively represented in federal and state natural resource planning. To achieve these goals, the Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to provide federal technical and financial assistance to the states. As a result, significant federal and state investments have been made in the programs.
Most states also provide for periodic forest-related assessments and policy reviews through their monitoring processes. States monitor their forest regulatory programs to determine whether the programs are producing the desired result. Information gathered from monitoring can serve numerous purposes. For example, results of the monitoring can clarify which forest practice standards accomplish program goals and objectives best. It can help determine whether enforcement procedures should be intensified or modified.
Beginning in the early 1970s and accelerating since the mid-1980s, nine states adopted programs to assert state control over land development policies. These programs attempt to reconcile the goal of environmental protection with that of economic development. The growth management regulations guide and direct the pattern and pace of development. Often, the programs are geared toward preventing or slowing the conversion of agricultural or forest land to other uses. This is accomplished by a shift from low-density urban sprawl to compact development with higher densities and a sharper transition from urban areas to surrounding greenbelts. By limiting urban sprawl, existing open spaces, including undeveloped wetlands, forests and mountains can be preserved.
In summary, numerous statutory and regulatory schemes are in place that require forest-related planning and assessment at the federal, state and local level. The statutes require that governmental agencies meet needs with appropriate programs and legislation. However, there are no systematic evaluations of the quality or effectiveness of these plans and assessments. Future implementation and revision of the statutes depends on the outcome of current litigation involving the various planning regimes.
INDICATOR 50: Extent to which the legal framework provides opportunities for public participation in public policy and decision making related to forests and public access to information.
Public involvement is a democratic, dynamic, interactive process of bargaining, negotiating, and mediation among and between constituents and managers. All steps in the management decision process--problem identification, data collection, analysis, alternative formulation, and choice--are open to participation. Forests may be managed more sustainably if people have a chance to influence and support plans for forest management actively. Public participation can foster political support for sustainable management.
Public participation is today a routine and integral part of land management and other agency activities. Requirements for public participation have, to an extent, changed the work of many natural resource professionals. Managers must not only understand the current scientific and technical issues in their fields but also understand the role of public interests in resource management. Furthermore, managers find ways to encourage and facilitate public involvement which involve a different set of skills than those taught in most natural resource management training.
Research has identified some of the more successful means of integrating public participation into the planning process. Two areas, in particular, have been examined: 1) effective administration of the public involvement process, and 2) adequate preparation of federal public servants to conduct the process. Guidelines have been proposed by various researchers.
One notable means for eliciting public participation is federal incentive programs. The Federal government does not regulate activities on state and private land, but the incentive programs which encourage and facilitate technical and financial assistance increased are one effective means for increasing participation.
INDICATOR 51: Extent to which the legal framework encourages best practice codes for forest management.
Best management codes set standards for sustainable management of forests to foster appropriate management practices which are ultimately the key factor in forest sustainability. They are written guidelines which prescribe specific forest management actions. Whether they are regulatory, quasi-regulatory, or voluntary, best practice codes strive to ensure forest sustainability. The condition of forests at the stand, landscape, local, regional, national, and global level depend entirely on the management (or lack of management) on the ground. Sound forest management practices and operations ensure sustained forest productivity for market goods, protection of ecological values, and protection of the various social, cultural and spiritual values of the forest.
By contrast, best management practices (BMPs) are methods, measures or practices selected by an agency to meet it nonpoint source control needs. They should reflect a balance among the many benefits, uses of values of forests. BMPs include but are not limited to structural and nonstructural controls and operation and maintenance procedures. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initially designed BMPs to protect water quality. They can be applied before, during and after pollution-producing activities to reduce or eliminate their introduction of pollutants into receiving waters. BMPs also may be designed to protect other outputs and resources associated with forests.
Best management practices for forestry and for agriculture have been developed in almost every state in the U.S. Some of these BMPs for forest management activities are required under various state, local, or federal laws. Other are implemented through various voluntary or quasi-voluntary programs. Implementation of BMPs is monitored periodically in all states and localities, whether the programs are regulatory or voluntary. In several eastern states, wildlife BMPs have been adopted.
In 1995, the American Forest and Paper Association instituted the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), which sets forth a detailed set of forest practices standards or best management practices. These standards cover practices including protecting water quality, ensuring prompt reforestation, enhancing wildlife habitat, minimizing the visual impact of harvesting, protecting special sites, and contributing to biodiversity.
These standards are not codified, but member companies of the AF&PA are required to implement the standards on their lands. Further, members provide advice to private forest landowners from whom they buy timber on implementing the practices on their lands. This is a substantial commitment for member companies, and is intended to prove their commitment to the world's sustainable forestry principles, on their lands and on NIPF lands. Several forest products firms have chosen not to participate in this program, and resigned as members of AF&PA. The first SFI annual report, produced through internal review, documented excellent progress in achieving the purposes of this program. It is unclear how external or independent reviewers would rate the improvement of practices.
In addition to the AF&PA efforts, various organizations have attempted to develop programs of green certification or wood labeling, such as the Forest Stewardship Council. These have been applied in a limited degree to a few large forest landowners in the United States. The National Woodland Owners Association has also developed a landowner rights and responsibility code, and began a program in 1997 to have consulting foresters certify that forest management has occurred in sustainable manner on inspected NIPF lands.
Alternatives to outright regulation are becoming more popular. These include the nonregulatory or voluntary BMP programs, with either explicit or implicit contingent back-up of regulatory enforcement action; green certification or stewardship programs; and the industry-sponsored Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Other non-regulatory mechanisms include: cost-share payments under the Forestry Incentives Program; Agricultural Conservation Program; Conservation Reserve Program; Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program; preferential property or income tax treatment; technical assistance and extension education programs; environmental education and urban forestry programs; and conservation easements also can help achieve the purpose of best practice codes or BMPs. These non-regulatory approaches offer the promise of eliciting excellent compliance rates with socially-desired forest practice standards, at a lower cost. While the same practice standards may be expected by all forest landowners, more flexibility to adapt to unique forest or stand conditions should allow more management discretion and reduced costs to achieve sustainable forest management.
There is reasonably accurate and reliable state-level data analyzing the impact of BMPs on water quality and the compliance by forest landowners. Much less data is collected on the effects of forest practices on most other forest-related outcomes such as wildlife, soil productivity, or biodiversity. Data on individual forest tracts or small forest areas is also lacking.
INDICATOR 52: Extent to which the legal framework provides for the management of forests to conserve special environmental, cultural, social, and/or scientific values.
Both law and administrative regulations provide for areas to be set aside for protection based on their social, cultural, ecological and environmental values. The U.S. legal framework enables Federal, State, Tribal governments, local government agencies and private landowners to designate and conserve special areas. Further, non-governmental organizations, including the Nature Conservancy, can and do purchase land for the purpose of conserving it.
The United States has passed numerous Federal laws to protect an increasing number and variety of special areas. Over time, the rate of forest lands designated for protection will slow as the inventory of special areas without designation as such declines. The discussion of the U.S. legal framework lists some of the major pieces of legislation which protect unique natural resources, including forest lands, for their unique social, cultural, environmental or scientific features. These laws collectively demonstrate concern for management of forests for a wide range of values on Federal lands. There is a great need for assessment of the impact of the legal framework on the quality of both the special areas set aside for protection and the quality of their management.
INDICATOR 53: Capacity to provide for public involvement activities and public education, awareness, and extension programs, and make available forest related information.
Support for sustainable forest management and public participation in forestry planning and decision-making requires citizens who are well informed and knowledgeable about forestry issues and activities. Indicator 53 discusses the institutional framework which provides for education and public participation. This includes thousands of environmental groups, governmental agencies and services, not-for-profit educational foundations, facilitation organizations, and forest products consortia.
Public Participation Activities
Without public support and active involvement, an "unwanted" sustainable plan will ultimately fail. However, public involvement involves a complex, two-way dialogue where all affected stakeholders should have an opportunity to influence decisions on public lands. This means that institutional partnerships are usually necessary in planning activities. These institutions include county governments, not-for-profit facilitation groups, not-for-profit environmental groups, tribal governments, state governments, the forest industry, and scientists.
Another mechanism for participation is the Seventh American Forest Congress. It has been an important grass roots mechanism for networking, community-building, and public involvement on the full range of forest related issues. In 1996, the Seventh American Forest Congress was held to develop a collective vision for the next twenty years of forest conservation and management, a list of principles that would achieve that vision, and the next steps needed. Follow-up activities are currently underway across the country. The Forest Congress focused on building community by involving people from all backgrounds as one group which committed and participated in a final product.
Public participation is important in the forest planning process for federal lands, but must be more effective than it has in the past in order to serve its constituents more reliably and without undue contention. Barriers to successful communication and participation have included use of incorrect models of public involvement, professional resistance to public ideas, and inflexible conditions for managers. In over two-thirds of the 121 national forests, regional issues need more attention to strike a better balance among local, regional, and national concerns. In addition, the public has traditionally been involved once a problem arises or a plan is needed. Instead, participation should be involved in defining the problem.
Engaging the public does not ensure sustainability in itself. It does, however, inform participants about the issues involved, including often conflicting laws, lack of funds, and what other people and groups want. Field trips, outdoor events, and other gatherings may also break down barriers between people and foster better knowledge of their shared lands. In this area, however, no large-scale national trends in sustainability and conservation can be seen and are difficult to measure, although local successes can be seen in a wide variety of examples.
Many states have not developed environmental education programs. Even states which do ahve fucntioning programs jhave not evaluated the impact of the programs on student behavioiirs and pracrtices. Some of the notable programs include Project Learning Tree and Project Wild but their reach is limited to less than three percent of the U.S. teacher population. Funding is the major constraint for most programs.
Natural Resources Conservation Education Program: The NRCEP is a joint effort between the US Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters. The goal of the NRCEP is to help people of all ages understand and appreciate our country's natural resources, and how to conserve those resources for future generations. Although the NRCEP is a national program, it is implemented locally. The program funds environmental education projects, strengthens partnerships between funded organizations, and collaborates on local projects. Other sponsors and partners include the EPA, the National Environmental Education Training Foundation, the National Forest Foundation, the American Forest Foundation, several agencies within the Department of Interior agencies, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and a host of local and state organizations.
EPA Environmental Education Office: The Environmental Education Act of 1990 created this office to administer a grant program for environmental education and national teacher training and programming activities. The $7.8 million in funds is split between grants (38 percent), training programs (25 percent), public-private foundations (10 percent), and other broader categories. Advisory groups provide feedback and evaluation programs are required.
National environmental education advancement project (NEEAP): This program helps state leaders to implement and shape their environmental education programs by serving as a conduit between environmental education leaders and their counterparts in other states and between state and national organizations and expertise. Partnerships in this program include the EPA, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, North American Association for EE, National Association of Conservation Districts, and National Wildlife Federation. NEEAP provides leadership clinics, workshops, seed funding, informational services, and networking opportunities for each of the nine participating states. Eleven more states will be added to the program in the next three years.
Other institutions: The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) manages a $1.95 million consortium project funded through EPA and coordinated with a wide range of institutions in addition to those above. The NAAEE focuses on information dissemination, education reform and innovation through training, and expansion of partnerships.
The National Forum on Education About the Environment, linked to the President's Council on Sustainable Development, oversees integration of education about sustainable development into environmental programs.
As a whole, the above institutions comprise the framework for environmental education at a national scale through which local programs are funded, programmed, or otherwise assisted. The framework itself appears well developed, although its level of funding is low and evaluation of program impacts is crucial.
Local and State K-12 Programs: Project Learning Tree (PLT) is national not-for-profit environmental education program funded by state boards of education, private companies, professional associations, individual donations, and state and federal agencies. In the long-term, this form of environmental education is designed to educate the public to improve decision-making concerning natural resource issues and to increase involvement in these decision-making processes. PLT currently trains 50,000 teachers each year based on national guidelines in a training partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National EE Advancement Project (NEEAP). Project WILD has trained 550,000 educators and has worked with more than 35 million students since its inception in 1980. Project WILD teaches wildlife conservation and the ecology, values, social systems, and responsibilities that come with it. All three programs--Project Learning Tree, Project WILD, and the most recent Project WET--are designed to be concept-oriented, balanced and fair, and neither pro nor con on value-sensitive issues. Although all three projects relate to natural resource issues, PLT more directly focuses upon forests.
Lifelong Environmental Education: The quality and quantity of environmental education varies dramatically by state. Some have strong, well-established programs, but many are just getting started and are helped through NEEAP and other national programs. Courses in ecology, environmental studies, forestry, and many other topics vary between schools in their quality and quantity depending on the focus of each institution and the faculty they attract. One noticeable trend has been an evolution towards environmental curricula in traditional forestry schools, espousing a more holistic and less traditional approach.
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) educates children about the environment through publication of two magazines. The Foundation encourages intelligent management of the life-sustaining resources of the earth and promotes a greater appreciation of these resources, their community relationship, and wise use.
The National Audubon Society educates both children and college students. Through their Audubon Expedition Institute, hundreds of college and graduate students are prepared for environmental careers through first-hand learning. Audubon Adventures teaches ecology to 600,000 children in grades three through six.
Cooperative Extension provides 9.9 million owners of 393 million acres of forest with management related information and educational programs. Owners are increasingly better educated and are more likely to prioritize ecological or aesthetic values over commodity production. Several trends which affect education of landowners are evident:
For these reasons, extension services may reach only five percent of landowners with technical assistance through the Stewardship Program of the 1990 Farm Bill and other educational outreach. Since larger-land owners are disproportionately reached, the acreage with multiple resource management plans may approach 15 to 20 percent of non-industrial private forest land. In North Carolina, a state with many non-industrial private forest owners, 210,000 acres out of 12.3 million acres have management plans. Throughout the management plan process, education concerning multiple and often conflicting management objectives is a major focus of CES extension programs.
Extension foresters also educate loggers about BMP compliance, safety, and other issues. In this case, 95 percent of loggers may be reached and BMP compliance may be over 90 percent based on independent inspections of state forestry departments. Since both the BMP compliance rate and regulations dictated vary by state as delegated in the Clean Water Act, results are difficult to quantify, but nevertheless impressive.
Extension foresters work in collaboration with state forestry agencies, the Forest Service, the Forest Landowners Association (in the South), consulting foresters, the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), and a variety of other interested parties. AF&PA, with its Sustainable Forestry Initiative, provides funds for logger education about BMPs with penny a ton taxes funding pilot projects in Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia.
A close partnership and joint staffing exists between the extension services and state foresters. The National Association of State Foresters may even include extension agents as members. In the Northeast, state foresters are usually part of the state's department of environmental protection; in the west, part of trust agencies and land departments; in the south, part of governor-appointed commissions to promote the forest products industry. Funding, therefore comes from many sources. Once again the variation between states is broad and difficult to interpret.
Funds for extension activities are provided through the Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA), Smith-Leaver federal funds as allocated by states, and through state matching funds and local funds. Since it was first funded in 1982, RREA has increased the number of extension agents involved in forestry from 180 to 280 and in all natural resource fields from 330 to 700.
Since private property rights figure prominently in the U.S., a land ethic which espouses sustainable management must be gained through individual commitment. The extension services can only help based on their success rates at education combined with incentives for good stewardship. The magnitude of their success will be further quantified and qualified when the Chief Financial Officer reports to Congress on the results of the Government Performance and Results Act. This and other evaluations to determines the most effective means to encourage sustainable forest management and is necessary.
INDICATOR 54: Capacity to undertake and implement periodic forest-related planning, assessment and policy review processes including cross-sectoral planning and co-ordination.
This Indicator examines the legal requirements for assessment and planning on forest lands in the U.S. This indicator considers the institutional framework supporting the capacity to implement these laws.
Federal Forest lands: The federal forest lands are primarily managed by the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management. It is possible to determine decision and rule making processes and assess whether adequate information for decision making is used, cooperation between agencies is present and public input is solicited and then used.
Information from the Forest Service includes costs for different program activities. From these reports it is also possible to assess performance goals as they relate to the RPA program, to the management of National Forests and to assisting state, private and other federal landowners.
State Forest Areas: Apart from the management of state-owned forest lands. States also have a substantial role in regulation of private forest practices, forestry extension and support of private land owners. In collaboration with federal agencies, state governments have established a variety of cooperative incentive programs designed to protect forests and ensure forest productivity for all uses. This technical support is provided under the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978.
Extension services include transfer of technical assistance and distribution of information about best management practices that can be voluntarily applied. States also produce financial incentives in the assumption that private landowners are financially unable to carry out socially responsible forestry practices. States can also implement regulatory measures to force uniform application of socially acceptable forest practices on all private lands within a state.
In 1992 of the many state programs, 28 percent were technical assistance, 27 percent were primarily educational. These types of programs existed in 84 to 94 percent of all states. Fiscal incentive programs were 15 percent of all programs and were said to exist in 26 and 78 percent of all states (depending on how definition of program objectives). Voluntary guidelines account for 13 percent of program applications and regulatory programs account for 11 percent of state program applications.
The acreage of state forests can be assessed and the type of management plans can be investigated. Generally, state foresters reports contain many of the quantifiable variables relating to management of state forests.
It is possible to assess the state government programs focused on major private forestry activities. This would focus on the activity, the region and the type of program. The categories of program in such an assessment would include educational programs; technical assistance; voluntary guidelines; tax incentives; regulatory programs.
Ownership of the nation=s non-industrial private forests is dispersed across 10 million individuals. Many of the private land-owners activities are encouraged, facilitated, or advised by other types of institutions such as federal and state forestry agencies, and associations including the American Tree Farms System. This association is a forestry industry program to encourage good forest management on private land. There are over 72,000 tree farms in 50 states which cover 88 million acres. To become a member of this system, the land must be inspected by one of the 10,000 foresters who donate their time to this system. The lands are then inspected every five years.
Various parameters can be used to assess private forest management including:
While there is information available from the various private associations including the AF&PA Sustainable Forestry Initiative on harvest levels, public opinions, and land assistance programs, analysis of the institutional effectiveness in fostering good planning for sustainable forest management is lacking.
Recently, comprehensive assessments have been undertaken in the Sierra Nevada, Upper Columbia Basin, the Northern Forests and other areas. Problems in accomplishing large scale regional plans include the difficulty in eliciting adequate public participation and no requirements for different institutions to collaborate. While there are various methods to assess the success of regional plans, none is comprehensive. For example with the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project, there were public meetings with the steering committee. In the Upper Columbia Basin, the correspondences of the county commissioners form Oregon, Washington and Idaho could be used in the same way. The written public comment record from the public meetings illustrates public opinion and reaction to the planning process. Pairing these qualitative data sources and other quantitative data with the resulting forest management remains an important area for future research.
INDICATOR 55: Extent to which the institutional framework includes the capacity to develop and maintain human resource skills across relevant disciplines.
The management practices which determine the sustainability of the nation=s forests depend largely upon human skill and ingenuity. A broad range of disciplines and skills is necessary to achieve the goals of sustainable forest management including not only the traditional scientific disciplines of forestry, botany, wildlife biology, ecology, but also the social sciences of economics, antrholpology and conflict resolution.
Skills in the many disciplines are developed through formal education and on-the-job-training, and are maintained through direct experience working in the discipline as well as through professional certification/licensing requirements, professional societies, continuing education programs, extension landowner outreach programs, and technical/trade training and assistance programs.
The institutional framework in the U.S. supporting the development and maintenance of human resource skills in forestry has been well developed for many decades. Periodic assessments of the relevance and changing needs of forestry education have guided the evolution of forestry programs in the United States. Recent developments such as the SAF's Certified Forester program represents a strengthening of the institutional framework needed to maintain human resource skills.
Data on skill maintenance are available from several sources, including professional societies, individual corporations and government agencies, trade associations, and extension programs. These data are, however, are not uniform in substance or maintenance. More importantly, in their raw form, they provide no analysis of the impact of the programs upon forest management.
The data from acadamic institutions with programs in natural resource management show that enrollment in agriculture, natural resource, and forestry schools is on the rise. The Food and Agricultural Education Information System (FAEIS) noted five year trends in the combined national enrollment (2 year, BS, MS, and PhD) showed a 27% increase between 1991 and 1995. National enrollment in natural resources experienced a 31% increase between 1991 and 1995, while forestry enrollment increased 18% for the same time period.
Two professional societies in the natural sciences, the Society of American Foresters and the Southeastern Section of the Wildlife Society, offer accreditation to schools that meet their criteria for professional education. Further, the National Association of Professional Forestry Schools and Colleges (NAPFSC) has a committee that focuses on forestry education for its 60 member schools. The committee has served as a catalyst for issue examination by cosponsoring a series of meetings on forestry education in the United States. The committee has also cosponsored symposia examining the role and changing needs for forestry education.
Data pertinent to the other relevant disciplines exist, but are of limited immediate use as they are compiled and held by individual schools. Qualitative data regarding the academic emphasis within each department as well as the scope and detail of the courses could be collected. This information, combined with quantitative data about the number of students enrolled in these programs, would give a clearer picture of the status of the U.S. institutional capacity to further human resources necessary for sustainable forest management.
Trade associations such as the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) work closely with individual state programs to provide education and training to loggers, procurement foresters, and sawmillers. Programs vary by state; for example, Missouri currently has no logger education program, while other states are in the process of developing continuing education criteria for persons who have completed training. AF&PA also offers education and training for member companies as part of its Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Data on these programs varies in quality and availability.
Professional societies representing the relevant disciplines (with the exception of the Botanical Society of America) offer certification programs for their members and require some type of continuing education for certification maintenance. Most societies open their continuing education programs to non-certified members as well. Accreditation programs reflect organization priorities: in the case of the SAF, interdisciplinary efforts in four main education areas (communications, science and mathematics, social sciences and humanities, and electives) are stressed. Faculty experience and program scope and rigor are heavily weighted in the Southeastern Section=s program.
Many private corporations and government agencies involved with forest management offer or require some type of professional development or in-service training program for their employees. The extent of this practice is unknown, and data documenting requirements have not been collected.
Trade associations such as the AF&PA are currently working with individual state technical training programs to develop continuing education requirements for loggers, sawmillers, and procurement forester who have participated in workshops. The AF&PA also commits time to working with member companies to provide them with new information that will help them meet the requirements of SFI.
State extension agencies offer landowner assistance and education programs. The real challenge lies in keeping extension agents up to date with changes in technology so that they can offer the highest-quality assistance to interested landowners. Moreover, some states require foresters to be licensed and/or registered, which helps ensure high professional standards for private forestry practices. Currently only 11 states require foresters to be licensed, and 13 states require foresters to be registered. No states currently require licensing or registration for the other disciplines.
There are a number of data sources on the capacity of the institutional framework in the U.S. to foster and maintain the human resource skills relevant to sustainable forest management in the U.S. The major need for future inquiry is comprehensive analysis of the impact of various institutions and programs on forest health.
INDICATOR 56: Extent to which the institutional framework has the capacity to develop and maintain efficient physical infrastructure to facilitate the supply of forest products and services and support forest management.
In many cases, access to the forest is needed for sustainable management. To the extent that adequate infrastructure is provided in appropriate situations, the greater the likelihood that forest will be managed on a sustainable basis.
Management objectives determine what is the efficient physical infrastructure for sustainable forest management. In the U.S., the profit motive of industrial timberland owners provides an analytical framework for determining how much infrastructure to develop and maintain on their lands. Management of publicly-owned forest ecosystems, however, faces multiple, shifting, often poorly defined and contradictory objectives which vastly complicates the determination of efficient levels of physical infrastructure. This discussion is focused on publicly-owned land because most data available on this indicator pertain to them.
As physical infrastructure, we are including structures and facilities that are essential for the sustainable production of benefits from forests to society. Unroaded areas and permanent installations such as trails, roads, campgrounds, and ski lifts are included.
Benefits to society cover a wide arrray, including 1) inputs to the economy (such as wood and minerals); 2) amenities (opportunities for recreation, viewing wildlife, enjoying scenery, and services that are not related to any direct use of the environment); 3) life-support services (clean air and clean water); and 4) dispersing, transforming, or storing residuals that are by-products of human and economic activity. Efficiency with respect to physical infrastructure means allocating resources, without waste, to produce desired levels of all kinds of outputs--including areas with no permanent installations if that is what society desires.
Direct measures of infrastructure--such as miles of road or numbers of campgrounds--are scattered and uneven. Data included in the National Outdoor Recreation Supply Information System (NORSIS) is derived from a variety of references and databases.
If infrastructure is restricted to permanent installations alone the analysis becomes biased by the implicit assumption that areas without permanent installations have no positive value. In fact such areas have considerable value when measured in terms of willingness to pay even though, because of market failure, it is difficult to capture that value monetarily. A broader, more inclusive definition of infrastructure would include various combinations of unroaded areas, trails, roads, campgrounds, and ski lifts. Appropriate levels of infrastructure thus are unique to each ecosystem depending on both its biophysical properties and its socio-economic context. Appropriate amounts of roads, unroaded areas, trails, and ski lifts for a temperate, mountainous, moist ecosystem are not the same as for an arid, flat ecosystem. Likewise appropriate amounts of infrastructure for two identical ecosystems, one near fast-growing population centers with transportation networks and the other remote and isolated, are different .
The relationship between physical infrastructure and sustainable forest management for public lands is not at all clear for several reasons. At a given time some outputs from forest ecosystems (timber or camping) are positively related to the presence of roads and campgrounds, while other outputs (wilderness or hiking trips) are diminished by more infrastructure. The question of efficient infrastructure becomes more complicated if viewed through time. As the population grows and all demands on forested ecosystems increase, infrastructure requirements will change.
Preferences can change with the population structure, for example, recreation demands as the population ages. Preferences can also change as alternatives to timber or outdoor recreation become available, but these are difficult to predict. While infrastructure data can be collected and trends can be displayed, they cannot be interpreted without placing them within the broader policy context.
Data showing normalized trends in miles of trails and roads and acres of wilderness for the Forest Service illustrate the difficulties of interpretation. Since 1983 all of these variables have had an upward trend: a land base of finite size has been yielding simultaneously more acres of designated Wilderness and more miles of roads and trails. One has to assume road and trail density has been increasing during this period. Is this sustainable infrastructure? At what trail and road density does another unit of physical infrastructure provide fewer benefits from forests that its cost to build and maintain?
If we analyze the per capita trends the conclusions are no more clear. Acres of designated wilderness, for example, have fluctuated around a mean of 0.13 acres per person in the last decade. In some years Wilderness designation has not kept pace with population growth, in other years it has exceeded it. The implication is that sustaining the provision of wilderness areas to each person requires continual additions to the wilderness system, an absurd conclusion at the extreme. A more sensible policy is to set the ratio of roaded to wilderness areas where society is indifferent between one more unit of roaded area and one more unit of wilderness. At present we lack methods to know what this ratio is, much less how it may change through time.
The Forest Service has provided roads and trails on a per capita basis. But for both, the percentage of the infrastructure not being maintained to standard has been increasing. Assuming we know what levels of roads and trails are efficient, these trends raise doubt that current institutions can sustain them. Resources for maintaining roads and trails have declined in recent hears. This suggests the need to reexamine the policy for funding road and trail maintenance. Many users of Forest Service roads and trails pay no fee at present: firewood cutters, mushroom and huckleberry harvesters, hunters, and all sorts of recreationists. Analysis of efficient allocation of the costs of road and trail construction and maintenance is required, as well as an assessment of mechanisms for collecting revenues.
With respect to roads, determining the efficient level of infrastructure is complex because roads facilitate hauling timber, provide access for recreation, and facilitate forest management activities such as firefighting, thinning, and monitoring. Roads thus are associated with multiple outputs and enter at different stages of the production process for different outputs. Evaluating these benefits and the attendant impacts of fire risk, erosion, spread of diseases, etc., presents challenges that have not yet been satisfactorily resolved.
Expenditure data are not reliable indicators of the state of the physical infrastructure. It is conceivable that efficient physical infrastructure can be provided with no expenditures, or conversely efficient infrastructure is not provided despite substantial expenditures. More direct measurement of the infrastructure is preferable. Ideally some indication of the quality of the infrastructure would be available too.
INDICATOR 57: Extent to which the institutional framework has the capacity to enforce laws, regulations, and guidelines.
Without adequate enforcement efforts, the effectiveness of laws and regulations intended to promote forest conservation and sustainable management will be greatly reduced. Therefore, the greater the extent of enforcement, the more likely that forests will be managed on a sustainable basis.
Building on the principle that sustainability in forest resources management is based on balancing private and public interests and the uses and benefits of present and future generations, legislative policies concerning the management of renewable resources must be developed to be comprehensive, understandable, and, yet, concise. More importantly, these policies must reflect the consensus of a public that realizes the importance of these balances and the benefits of the enforcement of such legislation. In terms of policy enforcement, this consensus is reached when nearly everyone expects the rules to be enforced (regardless of whether they agree with the specifics of those rules or not) and this expectation deters actions of non-compliance.
In the arena of enforcement, laws, regulations, and guidelines have varied applicability and are enforced within a complex jurisdictional structure. Jurisdiction describes the enforceable reach of a law and who has the responsibility of enforcing that law. Mapping jurisdictions can be quite confusing as some resources (e.g., wildlife) are the responsibility of state government, while others (e.g., endangered species) can be said to belong to the federal government. Some resources (timber or habitat, for example) actually belong to the land owner, whether private or public, though non-owners may have a say in how that resource is used. In addition, jurisdictions may overlap as agencies practice cooperative law enforcement techniques.
Guidelines are treated here as non-authoritative standards of practice developed by governmental or non-governmental organizations and enforced by moral persuasion. Regulations express authoritative standards of operational procedures established to govern behavior and actions of agencies and enforced by superiors in the organization. Laws are legislatively-binding authoritative standards enacted by the government to codify and regulate behavior and practices among the members of a society and enforced by agencies directed to execute policy. Several categories of laws are included.
Best Management Practices (BMPs) are usually voluntary guidelines designed to help educate landowners about conservation-minded management practices. Some states monitor for compliance with BMPs, and may issue fines for deviations, but in general this is a nonregulatory approach. Forest Practices Acts (FPAs) establish in broad terms the objectives of regulation; activities to be regulated; manner in which forest practices are to be regulated; responsible administering agencies; and penalties for noncompliance. Right to Harvest Laws are being adopted by several states to ensure legal protection of timber harvesting in a perceived atmosphere of constricting environmental legislation. Bad Actor Laws are often used by states to back-up pre-existing guidelines that don=t prescribe penalties for noncompliance. Generally, these laws provide a method of enforcing guidelines by invoking the penalty of a functional forest law with similar resource conservation intentions (such as a water quality standard) that has also been broken.
Attempts to measure the effectiveness of law enforcement for promoting sustainable forest management are subjective by nature. While data on natural resource related law enforcement expenditures are compiled at the federal level, there is presently no system in place to track this type of spending at the state or local levels. Another useful method of tracking state forestry regulations is through the National Woodland Owners Association which annually recognizes outstanding forestry legislation. However, the goals of these Associations are not necessarily the promotion of sustainable forest management, as defined in the Montreal Process, at the national or global level; and neither of these Associations tracks the enforceability of the laws reported.
The collected data and information present findings on the types of laws enacted to regulate natural resource management, the distribution of these types of laws, and trends in legislation and enforcement. The types of laws that directly or indirectly regulate natural resource management generally belong to one of the following categories: environmental protection (air quality, water quality, species preservation, soil conservation), timber harvesting, public property protection, tree protection, and special features protection (sensitive or fragile areas containing unique environmental attributes or resources). Distribution of natural resource management laws may be gleaned from the literature and data compilations. Federal natural resource laws tend to be well publicized and are frequently critiqued in numerous publications. The National Association of State Foresters tabulates data on which states have adopted common forestry ordinances, and the National Woodland Owners Association reviews other state forestry legislation and publicly commends states for outstanding laws.
Trends in legislation and enforcement may be tracked through the historical record of legislation (addition and repeal), the annual expenditures by enforcement agencies, the annual number of reported law enforcement incidents, and the number of law enforcement officers in reference to area of jurisdiction. Information used to map these trends is considerably more available at the federal level than at the state or local levels. Federal documents, such as the Annual Report of the Forest Service, report the total number of incidents administered by that agency as well as expenditures for agency and cooperative law enforcement on an annual basis.
The most striking element that cannot be determined from the data is a reliable measure of the effect that law enforcement has on the promotion of sustainable forest management. As the absence of data exhibits, it is quite difficult to accurately track costs of law enforcement at the state level. Often, state forestry agencies don=t have the power of enforcement and must refer cases to police or other environmental agencies that do have the power of enforcement. Present legislation on conserving and developing forest resources does not sufficiently reflect the principle of sustainability. Indeed, many laws and regulations are inconsistent and often contradictory to long-term forest management.
INDICATOR 58: Investment and taxation policies and regulatory environment which recognize the long-term nature of investments and permit the flow of capital in and out of the forest sector in response to market signals, non-market economic valuations, and public policy decisions in order to meet long-term demands for forest products and services.
If capital is kept out of the forest sector, sustainable management may not be possible. If capital is prevented from leaving, inefficiencies can occur in both the forest sector and the economy at large and overexploitation may occur in the forest sector.
Evaluations of investment and taxation policies and the regulatory environment are very judgmental, going from the extremes of no regulation to full regulation. Various approaches to capital gains and estate taxes or other incentive programs tend to generate controversy. Direct regulation of private land is done only by state and local jurisdictions. A comprehensive discussion of state regulations can be found in Ellefson, et. al. Twelve states have a total of 13 timber severance tax programs that generally have the intent of encouraging better forest management.
An important part of the relevant economic framework is the provision of secure property rights which allow for investment in natural resources and intertemporal efficiency.
There is a trend toward increased regulation of forestry practices on private lands. There are mixed opinions about the effects of these regulations on timber supply. The regulatory environment evolves over time. For example, the implications of the Endangered Species Act for management of private lands are evolving through the court system.
Public lands are generally managed for a variety of values and the long term nature of investments is recognized. There is competitive bidding for most timber sales with the rights to harvest timber going to the highest bidder. Sales may last a year or more and the purchaser has some discretion over the timing of harvest in response to market signals.
Timber processing industries are subject to the same federal and state laws as are other industries. The Clean Water Act and other federal and state legislation may affect how processing occurs.
Although conclusive evidence is often elusive, many of these states can point to a number of tangible benefits that have resulted from their investments in state regulatory programs. Water quality is often better, reforestation rates are higher, wildlife habitat is more extensive, and amenity values are more pleasing.
Counting the number of regulations does not get at the flow of capital in and out of the forest sector. Although regulations may produce a variety of benefits, they can be a negative factor in timber supply.
INDICATOR 59: Non-discriminatory trade policies for forest products.
Over the past several decades, the U.S. timber processing industries have supported open trade in manufactured products. This support was reflected in the U.S. government's positions in both the Tokyo and Uruguay rounds of GATT negotiations. At the conclusion of the Uruguay Round, U.S. tariffs on imports of logs, lumber, plywood, and pulp and paper products were zero or near zero.
The terms of the U.S.-Canadian Free Trade Agreement and later, the North American Free Trade Agreement, are further evidence for U.S. support of non-discriminatory free trade policies.
Exceptions are the terms of the Forest Resources Conservation and Shortage Relief Act of 1990, as amended (FRCSRA), the final rule of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on the importation of logs, lumber, and other unmanufactured wood articles (APHIS restriction), and the terms of the 1996 softwood lumber agreement between the government of the United States of America and the government of Canada (softwood lumber agreement).
In general, the FRCSRA prohibits the export of unprocessed logs from publicly owned lands in the contiguous States west of the 100th meridian. One of its purposes is to continue and refine the existing Federal policy of restricting the export of unprocessed timber harvested from Federal lands in the western United States. Definitions of processed material, exceptions, etc. can be found in the language of the legislation.
The general intent of the APHIS restriction is to protect the U.S. domestic timber resource from the introduction of unwanted pests that could damage the resource. The implementing rules and regulations detail acceptable treatments and handling procedures. Current rules exempt Canada and Mexican States bordering on the United States from the terms of the restriction.
The softwood lumber agreement caps Canadian tax-free exports to the United States at 14.7 billion board feet annually, 9 percent below the record 16.2 billion board feet in 1995. The agreement contains a provision for an export tax of $50 per 1,000 board feet for the first 650 million board feet above the 14.7 billion board foot level and $100 per thousand board feet for amounts beyond 15.35 billion board feet. Exports from the Maritime provinces, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan are exempt from the terms of the agreement.
As trade in timber products increases, there will likely be growing concerns over the introduction of exotic pests, and history indicates that there are legitimate reasons for concern. For example, introduction of the chestnut blight into the United States forever changed the nature of forested ecosystems in the Eastern United States.
There is increasing interest around the World in use of timber products from forests certified as sustainable, especially regarding tropical timber products. There may be increasing interest in this area on the part of U.S. consumers that would be reflected at State and local levels rather than the Federal level.
The trend in international negotiations for the United States to take a zero position on tariffs for
forest products indicates non-discriminatory trade policies for forest products. Trade policies evolve over time, and there may be situations develop such as the softwood lumber agreement where trade policies might be open to discussion.
D. Extent to which the economic framework provides the capacity to measure and monitor changes in the conservation and sustainable management of forests.
INDICATOR 60: Availability and extent of up-to-date data, statistics and other information important to measuring or describing indicators associated with criteria 1-7.
The more widespread and current is the information related to criteria for sustainable forest management, the more likely forests will be managed on a sustainable basis. Greater knowledge enables decision makers and forest managers to make wise decisions.
The availability, and extent of up-to-date data, statistics, and other information important to measuring or describing indicators associated with criteria 1-7 vary by criterion.
There is increasing interest in monitoring the environment, but funding for this activity is difficult to maintain.
Trends in timber production and consumption, timber growth, mortality and inventory can readily be assessed on two-thirds of the forest land. In addition, the variety of programs pertinent to the indicators can readily be assessed, especially at the Federal level.
Availability is improving with access to systems through the WorldWideWeb. Consistency and comprehensiveness are becoming more critical.
There is little information on timber growth, mortality and inventory for the one-third of the forest land that is not classified as timberland. Especially for criteria 3 and 4, we have little consistent information for the various indicators, especially on private lands. Information on indicators associated with non-wood goods and services is also unavailable at this time.
INDICATOR 61: Scope, frequency and statistical reliability of forest inventories, assessments, monitoring and other relevant information.
This indicator assumes that better quality forest information makes it more likely that the forest will be managed on a sustainable basis. Trends cannot be detected nor impacts estimated without adequate data.
Early interest in forest inventories was primarily focused on availability of timber for commercial harvesting. Over time, there has developed increased focus on forest values besides timber. Because of the length of the inventory cycle, it may take over a decade to collect any new information for a national report. New remote sensing and sampling technologies offer promise in reducing the time needed to implement new variables for national reporting.
The Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 (RPA) has provisions for monitoring of the effects of forest management on the productivity of the land. Increasing concerns about forest health led in 1990 to the establishment of a forest health monitoring program. The program is active in 18 states and it monitors many of the indicators in the Santiago declaration.
In the United States, forest inventories are conducted under the terms of the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Research Act of 1978 which directs the Secretary of Agriculture to make and keep current a comprehensive survey and analysis of the present and prospective conditions of and requirements for renewable resources of the forests and rangelands of the United States. These forest inventories are carried out by US Forest Service Research on all lands in the United states except for National Forests in the West where forest inventories are maintained by Regional Offices of USDA National Forest Systems. All inventories are done with annual appropriations, augmented in some instances by cooperator funding.
The forest inventory is based on a systematic grid of over 100,000 inventory plots across the country. The average time between inventories varies, depending on budget, but is currently about 12 years. State-wide inventory information has been collected continuously for over 60 years. In most regions of the country, the third inventory cycle has been completed and some areas have been inventoried as many as six times. Each year, over 18 million hectares of forest land are inventoried. The statistical reliability of the inventories is targeted at the State level with forest area being estimated plus or minus 2 percent per million hectares.
The Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 provides for a national renewable resource assessment and a program based on that assessment. Assessments were done in 1975, 1979, and 1989. Assessment updates were done in 1984 and 1993. Programs were done in 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, and 1995. Planning is underway for an assessment to be completed in 1999. These Assessments have tended to focus primarily on supply and demand issues rather than the condition of the resources. However, including use of the criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management will enhance the ability of the 1999 Assessment to address resource condition issues.
Limited forest inventories are also done by the Natural Resources Conservation Service on private lands. These inventories are less comprehensive than inventories done by the Forest Service and focus on soil and water protection aspects of forest lands. There are on-going efforts to coordinate methodologies used in this National Resources Inventory with the inventories conducted by the US Forest Service.
Monitoring and assessment activity occur at the State and local government levels, as well as on Tribal and private lands.
There has been a proliferation of ecoregion assessments around the country. These assessments have a variety of objectives and more are expected. They may generate information useful for evaluation of indicators at a regional level.
The Forest Health Monitoring and Forest Inventory and Analysis programs of the US Forest Service are being integrated to create efficiencies in data collection. Research is underway to annualize inventories to decrease the time between observations on sample plots.
A Forest Inventory and Monitoring Institute has been established within the US Forest Service in part with the intent of coordinating development of protocols for measurement of selected indicators in the Santiago Declaration.
The United States has maintained inventory, assessment, and monitoring capabilities for years at the Federal level. The need for additional and more timely information is reflected in current research activities. There also is a great need to coordinate and integrate assessment and monitoring work being done by other public agencies, corporations, and individuals.
INDICATOR 62: Compatibility with other countries in measuring, monitoring and reporting on indicators.
Consensus criteria and indicators reflect a global sense of the meaning of sustainable management. The greater the ability to fit within this context, the more likely that there will be a successful interpretation of the degree of sustainability.
Determination of compatibility must wait until countries' FAR reports are available. However, inferences about probable compatibility can be derived by examination of the situation within the United States. As illustrated in the analyses of the various indicators of sustainable forest management in the United States, there is great variability within the United States in terms of the capability to measure, monitor, and report on indicators.
For criterion 1, much of the available information is for characteristics of forests on productive lands (timberlands). Timberland accounts for about two-thirds of total forest land. Data in the United States for inventory and land use are not organized according to the IUCN categories.
For criterion 2, the concept of sustainability is generally well developed on public lands and they are managed with the general intention of sustainability with some variation as to what sustainability means. The recent Sustainable Forestry Initiative of the American Forest and Paper Association is intended to enhance sustainable forest management of forest commercial forest lands.
For criteria 3 and 4, available information tends to be from case studies and development of a national report would be difficult and expensive.
Criterion 5 is generally compatible with other countries, and for some ecosystem components, standards exceed the draft international guidelines and protocols established by the IPCC. This criterion is well developed through assumptions about unit carbon values, but there is much uncertainty about the amount of carbon in forest soils.
Criterion 6 is well developed at the national level for various measures related to timber production. There are various measures of use for non-wood products on public lands, but little information is available for use on private lands.
Criterion 7 is well developed for public lands in terms of planning, public involvement, etc. For private lands, the legal, institutional, and economic framework tends to vary by State.
Given this variation within the United States, there is likely to be considerable variation among countries in terms of the ability to measure, monitor and report on indicators. The newly established Inventory and Monitoring Institute within the US Forest Service will provide the capability to develop protocols for some of the indicators in the Santiago Declaration.
INDICATOR 63: Development of the scientific understanding of forest ecosystem characteristics and functions.
The more scientific resources that are effectively applied, the more likely that forests will be managed on a sustainable basis. This indicator suggests the need to know the quality of our scientific understanding of forest ecosystem characteristics and function.
At this time, the best way to assess this indicator is to track the amount of money spent on research on forest ecosystems and functions. The following discussion points out the problems in trying to estimate this funding.
The United States has made significant investments in development of scientific understanding of forest ecosystem characteristics and functions. Research on forest ecosystem characteristics, functions and processes has been carried out in universities, Forest Service Research, and other federal agencies for many years. But the importance of this research has been increasingly recognized in recent years. Whether or not this increased recognition will translate into increased research investments and increased research capacity remains to be seen.
Recognition of the importance of increasing our understanding of forest ecosystems has grown dramatically in the United States in recent years. One indication of this is the National Research Council's report on forestry research, in which it was recommended that forest ecosystem research be "drastically" expanded. Another indication is the US Forest Service's strategic research plan, in which research on "understanding ecosystems" was identified as the first of three major program components for future research, with the expectation that this type of research will provide the scientific basis for addressing the health and productivity of natural and managed systems and natural resource issues related to environmental concerns. It will help us understand how forest and range ecosystems affect and are affected by natural and human-made environmental changes.
Despite increased recognition and funding for forest ecosystem research, quantifying the research capacity related to this area of research is problematic. Until very recently, research on forest ecosystems was not identified as a separate budget line item or research classification category. For example, forest ecology is not identified as a separate category of research in the recently updated Current Research Information System. Forest ecosystem research was not identified as a separate budget line item in US Forest Service Research until 1994. Research on forest ecosystem characteristics and functions has long been carried out in universities and Forest Service Research, but the funding history is essentially not retrievable due to the research classification systems used in the past.
An important point related to research capacity on forest ecosystems is that a significant amount of research on this topic takes place outside university forestry departments and Forest Service Research. Research on the structure and function of forest ecosystems has provided much of the information that is provoking major changes in our view of forests and how they work and has provided many concepts that are helping to resolve conflicts among resource values, such as timber and wildlife. Much of this research has been carried out by scientists outside of the field of forestry with funding from the National Science Foundation, private foundations, and non-government organizations.
Private sector organizations have not been extensively involved in basic research on ecosystem structure and function in the United States. The wood-based industry's research and development investments are focus heavily toward development, with very little emphasis on research areas such as developing increased scientific understanding of forest ecosystems.
INDICATOR 64: Capacity to develop methodologies to measure and integrate environmental and social costs and benefits into markets and public policies, and to reflect forest related resource depletion or replenishment in national accounting systems.
With more appropriate methodologies available, it is assumed to be more likely that forests will be managed on a sustainable basis. The U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has conducted an analysis to implement the United Nations System of Environmental and Economic Accounting. In its initial work, BEA focused on mineral resources, but it has also looked at forests as national income accounts. The analysis was released in May, 1994.
The analysis was controversial to the point that Congress eliminated funding for the work pending the results of a study currently underway by the National Academy of Sciences. This study will focus on analytical methods.
There is increasing interest in including the environment in national income accounts. To do this in a meaningful way, significant advances will be required in the underlying environmental and economic data. If the United States is to embrace methodologies for green national accounting, it will be done by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Available information indicates that any move in this direction will be controversial and problematic. We cannot determine the outcome of the study by the National Academy of Sciences and government reaction to it.
INDICATOR 65: Capacity to develop new technologies and to assess the socioeconomic consequences associated with the introduction of new technologies.
The more powerful are our knowledge tools, the more effectively we can apply them to the management of forests on a sustainable basis.
Technologies have evolved over time in all aspects of timber products production and use. New harvesting equipment and logging practices, new processing technologies, and new products and their application are constantly changing the ways that wood fiber is produced and consumed in the United States. In the past decade, engineered wood products have enabled the replacement of large softwood trees with smaller trees of less commercially desirable species in the production of products. Over time, there has been a pattern of substitution of new wood-based products for existing wood-based products.
The origins of new technologies include academia, Federal agencies and the timber products industries. Some innovative technologies have been imported, especially from Scandinavia.
Research aimed at assessing the socioeconomic consequences of new technologies in forestry has been carried out on a small scale for a number of years, both in forestry departments in several universities and in US Forest Service Research. Currently, the only Forest Service program conducting research related to this area is the Timber Demand and Technology Assessment Research Work Unit. This unit conducts both case studies of individual technologies and assessments of the impacts of technologies at an aggregate level. In addition to evaluating the economic (efficiency and demand) impacts of wood products and paper technologies, this unit is also evaluating impacts on supply, employment, trade, carbon cycling, and to some degree air and water emissions. Seven scientist-years plus professional and technical support are currently devoted to this research effort, which was initiated in the early 1970s.
Several economists in forestry schools around the country also have expertise in analyzing the economic consequences of new technologies. These university scientists depend mainly on funding from the Forest Service to conduct research in this area, which has significantly declined in recent years. Limitations of past research on the impacts of new technologies in forestry are that wood products technologies have been the main focus, with very little attention given to forest management technologies, outdoor recreation technologies, etc., and that the focus has been on economic efficiency impacts rather than impacts on social and ecosystem sustainability.
Funding and the number of scientist-years devoted to research on assessing the socioeconomic consequences of new technologies in forestry has declined significantly since the late 1980s and early 1990s.
INDICATOR 66: Capacity to enhance the ability to predict impacts of human intervention on forests.
It is increasingly recognized that the main driving force behind all of today's critical natural resource and environmental issues (e.g., sustainable development, global environmental change, loss of biodiversity, ecosystem health, etc.) is the impacts of human intervention. Research on the impacts of human intervention on forests is an extremely broad area, cutting across many lines of research. Research areas that relate include global environmental change, loss of biodiversity, acid deposition, loss of wetlands, loss and alteration of wildlife habitat, exotic species introduced by humans, toxic contaminants and other types of pollution, land-use and management practices, and all other research dealing with the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances. Research on these and related topics includes everything from social science research (e.g., research on the economic impacts of alternative silvicultural systems) to research in the biological and physical sciences.
There is a significant, crosscutting research effort in place to predict impacts of human intervention on forests. Research capacity is spread out across many organizations, including Federal and state governments, university forestry departments, and many other university departments, ranging from sociology to ecology. Funding comes from full range of research funding sources, from state governments to the National Science Foundation and private foundations.
Assessing research capacity related to the impacts of human intervention on forests is greatly complicated by the large number and diversity of research areas, organizations, and funding sources that are involved. For example, research on the impacts of human intervention is not identified as a separate category of research in the recently updated Current Research Information System, or CRIS. Consequently, the annual Inventory of Agricultural Research, based on the CRIS classifications, is of little help in assessing funding or scientist years devoted to this area of research. Research on the impacts of human intervention is not identified as a separate budget line item in US Forest Service Research, but is carried out in many Forest Service Research Work Units.
Trends related to the capacity for research on the impacts of human intervention on forests are difficult to assess, because the funding history -- except for individual programs such as global environmental change -- is essentially not retrievable.
INDICATOR 67: Capacity to predict impacts on forests of possible climate change.
A greater the ability to predict impacts provides the capability to take mitigating actions earlier, thus improving the likelihood that forests will be managed on a sustainable basis. Capacity to conduct and apply research and development to the problem of predicting climate change effects involves the development of a good understanding of the impacts of climate change on forests and their disturbances such as pests and fire, the ability to quantify those effects on forest productivity and changes in stand structure, and the ability to integrate these effects across the atmospheric, ecological, and economic systems.
One of the deficits at the global scale, recognized by the IPCC Working Group 2 report, is the need for uniform reporting and assembly of national forest inventory data sets. Within the United States, our capability far exceeds that of many countries in our ability to inventory private forest lands, and to a lesser degree, publicly managed forest lands. This capacity enables the development of forest sector models to quantify the production, removal and consumption of forest products within the United States.
The United States has had a global change research Program since 1990. Participating agencies include the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, NOAA, and the US Forest Service. Research in the US Forest Service relates to the potential effects of climate change on forests and their management. As our knowledge base grows, so will our ability to predict impacts on forests of possible climate change.
Forest production studies have been enhanced by ecological research examining the nature of forest ecosystem processes as affected by climate and nutrient cycling. This increased understanding has facilitated the development of models to quantify the impacts of climate change on forest productivity. We now have the capability to interpolate large scale climate scenarios and examine the potential impacts on forest production with these ecological models. This understanding is limited, however, particularly in the area of empirical data demonstrating the direct effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide on tree growth and the long-term effects on ecosystem productivity.
Recent work has linked the atmospheric, the ecological and the economic systems in assessing the impacts on forest of climate change. This work has suggested the importance of incorporating the feedbacks between the ecological and the economic systems in any examination of climate change effects on forestry. Our current ability to predict the impacts on forests of possible climate change rests on our current understanding and tentative assumptions within each of these systems. Within atmospheric sciences, the global circulation models resolve the climate at large spatial scales only, and there is the need to predict the potential changes at finer geographic scales.
Our ecological understanding is limited in the area of quantifying the transient (lagged) responses of forests to rapid climate change, understanding the ability of species to migrate with climate or adapt in place, and the nature of the feedbacks between land use change (land clearing or harvest) and local climate.
Potential species shifts and changes in productivity imply potential shifts in forest product use and depend on new technology. The nature of change within the infrastructure of the forest sector, particular at time scales of 50 years, the period over which climate changes are being analyzed, is an area of little understanding. Improving forest management and the delivery of forest goods and services will depend on future research and development in these areas.
The legal, institutional and economic framework for forest conservation and sustainable management in the U.S. has been measured by twenty indicators of legal, institutional and economic framework, monitoring and measuring capacities and research and development support. The following highlights reflect the significant trends and indications of this criterion in relation to the sustainability of U.S. forests.
We cannot determine the extent of and outcome of litigation involving the various planning regimes discussed above. We are also unable to measure the quality or quantity of planning.
What is currently not known may be summarized as follows: 1) the role of public participation in the sustainable management of non-federal (i.e., state and private) forest lands, 2) the most appropriate methods for resolving disputes between opposing parties, and 3) the specific goals of sustainable forestry which will be incorporated into the public involvement process. With regard to the latter point, the appropriate public participants have not yet been identified, the relevant land management agencies have not been identified, nor the means by which to incorporate public involvement into the land management process.
The number of laws, area and number of places to provide for management of forests to conserve special environmental, cultural, social and/or scientific values do not address the quality of places nor the quality of their management.
Data on management practices and best management practice codes on individual forest tracts or small forest areas is lacking. We will have more difficulty in assessing other forest outputs or conditions.
Essentially quantifying or even qualifying the extent to which behavior can be changed through these activities is time consuming and may not be altogether accurate.
The current data cannot tell us whether the accredited curricula are relevant to the task of sustainable forest management. The quality of the education is assumed to be high, but no mechanisms exist to measure it beyond periodic review by the SAF and Southeastern Wildlife Society. Also unknown is the quality of the students currently enrolled in forestry and other disciplines. Despite the emphasis on interdisciplinary education, the numbers of baccalaureate and graduate students focusing their studies in economics, computers, policy, public administration, decision analysis, dispute resolution, and other social science specialties are not readily available.
Missing from all sources is information about the education offered at small, non-accredited schools, trade schools, and schools not surveyed by FAEIS. Also absent is information about the scope of the programs and content of courses offered at all institutions and in all disciplines. Social science skills such as dispute resolution, economics, computer science, policy, communication, etc. will be essential to implementing sustainable forest management. Determining the depth of skill development across the relevant disciplines will be difficult.
The data cannot tell us the scope, quality, and rigor of the continuing education and training programs, nor their ability to facilitate implementation of sustainable forest management. Also unknown is the level of attendance for the various continuing education programs, which offerings generate the highest attendance rates, and in what areas woods workers and professionals are not getting adequate training and exposure.
Expenditure data on existing physical infrastructures are not reliable indicators of the state of the physical infrastructure. It is conceivable that efficient physical infrastructure can be provided with no expenditures, or conversely efficient infrastructure is not provided despite substantial expenditures. More direct measurement of the infrastructure is preferable. Ideally some indication of the quality of the infrastructure would be available too.
There is a lack of information detailing cost-benefit ratios to measure the degree to which the increased cost of doing business under regulations balances with the social gains derived from what the regulations exist to protect. It is apparent that most regulations increase forest management costs, but the extent at which regulations become an insurmountable obstacle to forest practices, or cause backlashes or other perverse effects, is obscure.
The amount of regulation does not address the flow of capital in and out of the forest sector. Although regulations may produce a variety of benefits, they can be a negative factor in timber supply.
Little information is available on timber growth, mortality and inventory for the roughly one-third of the forest land that is not classified as timberland. Especially for criteria 3 and 4, we have little consistent information for the various indicators, especially on private lands. We have little information on indicators associated with non-wood goods and services.
The United States has made significant investments in development of scientific understanding of forest ecosystem characteristics and functions. However, comprehensive information on trends in funding and the quality of the results is not available at this time.
If the United States is to embrace methodologies for green national accounting, it will be done by BEA. Available information indicates that any move in this direction will be controversial and problematic.
Within the United States, there is a small and declining effort for developing the capacity to assess the socioeconomic consequences associated with the introduction of new technologies. We cannot determine the quality of the existing work nor the need for additional work. However, there is a significant, crosscutting research effort in place to predict impacts of human intervention on forests.
The United States has an active climate change research program with the capability to predict impacts on forests of possible climate change. The accuracy of the models cannot be validated.
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