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by Liza Paqueo

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Sustainable resource management begins at the forest level. "There is a need to know whether management actions contribute to sustainability," affirms John Schuyler, Deputy Forest Supervisor from the Blue Mountain Province in Oregon. His colleague, Wayne Chandler, Forest Supervisor from the Modoc National Forest in California, adds that, "It is at the forest level that community interaction and interdependence are most intimate."

Schuyler and Chandler are two of six forest supervisors who gathered at the Inventory and Monitoring Institute (IMI) in Fort Collins, Colorado, this past spring to discuss the Local Unit Criteria and Indicators Development (LUCID) project. In January 1999, six national forests were selected as LUCID pilot forests to identify the conditions that are necessary for sustainable management of ecological, economic, and social systems and to field test the criteria and indicators necessary to assess how forest management is influencing sustainability. The LUCID project, administered by Thomas Hoekstra and his staff at the IMI, involves six national forests: Allegheny, Modoc, Mt. Hood, Ottawa, Tongass, and the Blue Mountain Province (comprised of the Umatilla, Wallowa-Whitman, and Malheur National Forests).

LUCID was conceived in response to the 1998 North American test of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management in Boise, Idaho. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) conducted a series of forest level tests in Indonesia, Canada, Ivory Coast, Brazil, Germany, Australia, and the United States. The Boise test examined the suitability of applying a number of field management unit criteria and indicators developed in other parts of the world to North American socioeconomic and ecological conditions. Forest scientists and managers from the United States, Mexico, and Canada participated in the test.

Says Alex Moad of the Forest Service Office of International Programs, "The Boise test was an excellent example of how the product of an international initiative can serve as a tool for field managers in the United States." The USDA Forest Service Office of International Programs, Forest Service Research and Development, and the U.S. Agency for International Development Global Bureau Environment Center jointly sponsored the Boise test.As a result of the Boise test a number of relevant criteria and indicators were identified as applicable to U.S. conditions. The next step was to initiate the LUCID project.

The main objective of IMI's LUCID project is to further refine the field management unit criteria and indicators selected during the Boise test and to determine the steps involved in implementing local unit measures of sustainability nationwide. LUCID is important because it links national (i.e., Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators) with field level criteria and indicators.

Ultimately, the value of LUCID will be to provide forest managers and partners with a framework that can be used to coordinate monitoring and encourage collaboration between forests, stakeholders, and government agencies. The LUCID project is facing a number of challenges, some of which are human resource constraints, adequate stakeholder participation, finding data to assess the economic and sociological indicators, and uneven financial resources among the pilot forests to implement LUCID.

John Palmer, Forest Supervisor on the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, has extensive experience working with criteria and indicators. As Palmer considers LUCID and its application in the United States and in forests around the world, he predicts that, "The criteria and indicators framework will continually evolve. It takes energy. It takes time. It takes effort. We're just scraping the surface."

Chandler agrees, "LUCID shows a lot of promise and will provide a common framework for forest inventory assessment and forest plan work."

Many maintain that successful implementation will create better collaboration, a common language, and clear communication lines. In order for criteria and indicators to become useful tools for assessing sustainability, the LUCID participants agree that what is learned on the forests must be applied nationally, and even globally.

As Gary Larsen, Forest Supervisor of the Mt. Hood National Forest, points out, "Americans remake new ideas as we try them on--only after thoroughly hammering and shaping them to be useful in our own personal world do we acknowledge their merit and adopt them."

Liza Paqueo is part of the communications team at the Office of International Programs.

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