Forest Sustainability Reporting in the United States
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Indicator 4.20: Management activities that meet best management practices to protect water

An indicator for Criterion 4: Conservation and Maintenance of Soil and Water Resources

What is the indicator and why is it important?

Forestry best management practices (BMPs) to protect water resources are a set of preventative measures designed to control or reduce movement of sediment, nutrients, pesticides, or other pollutants from soils to receiving water bodies. When properly implemented, forestry BMPs can prevent the impairment of water bodies from silvicultural practices and other forest management activities. Because the protection of water quality primarily involves the management of soil conditions, the information presented in this indicator can also be applied to Indicator 4.18, which assesses BMPs focused on soil protection.

What does the indicator show?

The Water Resources Committee (WRC) of the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) conducts periodic surveys of State nonpoint source (NPS) pollution control programs for silviculture. The fifth survey in the series was published in 2004 (NASF 2004). Responding to the survey were 45 States and two trust territories and the overall detailed results are tabulated in the survey report (NASF 2004). The term States in the NASF report and the report for this indicator refers to States, the District of Columbia, and trust territories. Development of BMPs for silviculture has occurred in 43 States, although 4 States do not have silviculture BMPs (NASF 2004).

Twenty-seven States reported on overall rates of use of forestry BMPs although 20 States responded unknown, nonapplicable, or did not respond to this survey question. Of the responding States, the median overall use of silvicultural BMPs is 91 percent with a range of 25 to 100 percent (table 20-1). Best management practice categories include preharvest, stream management, logging roads, stream crossings, site preparation, chemical use, roads to bed, and wetlands.

What has changed since 2003?

This indicator did not exist in the 2003 report.

Are there important regional differences?

Reported overall BMPs use is slightly higher in the West and South than in the East.

Why can’t the entire indicator be reported at this time?

Information for this indicator is dependent on State-level survey responses. Only 27 States provided responses that were applicable in constructing the indicator. Furthermore, BMPs are developed at the State level and may differ considerably both in their specific requirements and in their overall level of protection.

Table 20-1: Overall rates of forestry best management practice use in 2004 by State & National Association of State Foresters regions

Criterion 4 Indicators