is one of the few forest management goals that can be
agreed upon by people on all sides of the natural resource
debate. Sustainability can be described as meeting the
needs of the present socially, economically, and environmentally
without compromising the ability of future generations
to meet their needs.
of Forestry became involved with the Montreal Process
Criteria and Indicators of sustainable forest management
when the 1991 Oregon Legislature made changes to the
forest practices laws protecting Oregon's environment.
Members of the State legislature wrestled with the idea
of regulating the cumulative effects of forest practices
but came to the conclusion that the issue was too complex.
Before creating new regulations, members wanted more
information such as how daily forest activities influence
wildlife habitat, what constitutes the basic productivity
of the forest, and how to ensure good water quality.
The Oregon Department of Forestry struggled with how
to best identify the framework needed to describe the
questions that the legislature and the public want to
From the State of Oregon's perspective and experience,
we found that the criteria and indicators of the Montreal
Process proved to be the best framework to describe
the desired components of sustainability. When we ask
people what forest values should be sustained the answers
always seem to fit well under one of the seven Montreal
Process Criteria. Our stakeholders agree that biological
diversity, the productive capacity of the forest, the
health of the ecosystem, soil and water resources, global
carbon cycles, and socioeconomic benefits should all
be sustained. And, everyone realizes we need a legal,
economic, and institutional framework capable of providing
of the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators can
provide better information for field managers if assessed
at the local watershed scale or by ecoregion, however,
policy and legal issues like endangered species must
be understood and addressed at regional and national
scales. We all benefit from a common language to describe
the outputs from forest activities. As such, we need
a common set of elements, assessed across the landscape,
capable of being combined to answer local, regional,
or national questions. The public will be comfortable
with forest management activities only when they know
that the Nation's biodiversity and other values are
First Approximation Report of the Criteria and
Indicators gave us a better understanding of
the condition of different forest resources and provided
a foundation for the Oregon Department of Forestry's
Forest Assessment Project. It also allowed us to identify
the existing data that could be used to describe forest
conditions and to identify those areas where important
data is missing. This gap analysis will be used as a
guide in future data collection. As a result of the
First Approximation Report we are developing partnerships
with Oregon State University and the USDA Forest Service
Pacific Northwest Research Station to develop tools
to analyze the data we collect and to help us look at
tradeoffs between policy alternatives.
Oregon Board of Forestry provides direction for our
programs through their strategic plan, the Forestry
Program for Oregon. Both Montreal Process Criteria and
Indicators and benchmarks (statewide indicators of economic,
social, and environmental health used to chart growth
and development) are being used as tools to describe
desirable conditions for the board's strategic plan.
Use of the indicators will also enable the board to
express objectives as a range of measurable outcomes,
which will help focus program activities and energy
on actions that achieve specific targets.
The sustainable forestry indicators can also serve as
a core set of tools to be used by the Oregon Department
of Forestry in its cooperative work with other agencies
monitoring landscape-scale conditions on forestlands.
No single entity can afford to monitor everything. If
we want to be able to explain forest conditions and
communicate with commonly accepted data sets, we must
work together with a broad range of stakeholders. To
build public trust it must be our data, not my data.
One of the main benefits of the Oregon Department of
Forestry's work with sustainability has been a change
in our vision for the future of forestry in Oregon and
an examination of the pathway needed to achieve that
vision. The Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators
are helping us chart the path to sustainability.
Jim Brown is the State Forester for Oregon. Kevin
Birch is the Planning Coordinator for the Resource Policy
Division of the Oregon Department of Forestry.