Forest Sustainability Reporting in the United States
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Indicator 7.57: Availability of data and other information for addressing Montréal Process Criteria and Indicators

An indicator for Criterion 7: Legal, Institutional, and Economic Framework for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Management

What is the indicator and why is it important?

This indicator assesses the availability of information needed to measure or describe the indicators associated with Criteria 1 through 7. Successful implementation of the criteria and indicator concept requires the availability of information to report on the indicators.

What does the indicator show?

Compilation and development of up-to-date data, statistics, and other information is mostly a Federal Government responsibility, with some data collected by States as well. Various laws and regulations govern data collection, analysis, and release. For example, the Federal Renewable Resource Planning Act (RPA) mandates data collection and analysis to monitor the trends of the forest conditions in the United States. The Federal Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program measures forest inventories, forest health, and selected forest resource characteristics in the United States. FIA also collects and publishes much of the forest products production data in the United States These data are complemented with trade data from the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) and the National Resource Lands Inventory (NRLI), which measures land use and change for all lands in the United States.

As of the National Report on Sustainable Forests—2003, 5 of the 67 Montréal Process indicators had data available at the national scale, and 17 had partial data at the national scale. The rest had data available only at the State or local scale, if at all.

Federal, State, and university research and assessments contribute to the availability and extent of the Montréal Process statistics, and help foster continuous improvement of the data generated within the budget constraints. Forestry sector private firms and landowners also contribute to such efforts through voluntary reporting and cooperation with Federal partners.

Private sector organizations also provide various production and trade statistics to forest industry trade associations, which compile and publish the statistics annually or periodically. Certified forest organizations also report some management data, at least, and perhaps most of their management planning information. The full management plans for firms certified by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) are available from Web sources, and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) provides a summary of the certification audits for forest management certificate holders.

Table 57-1: Policy and Governance Classification

What has changed since 2003?

The national Forest Service FIA data system has converted most of its national data collection efforts from a periodic survey of each State to a continuous effort that samples a portion of each sample frame each year. This shift to continuous sampling provides some data each year, and over an extended period should provide continual data with similar accuracy. The Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring data efforts have also been integrated into the FIA data system, and subsample a portion of the same FIA plots, only with more detailed measurements to monitor forest health over time. Various updates in data collection have also been implemented specifically to support the Montréal Process reporting effort. FIA soil sampling to address Criterion 4 is a notable example of this.

Criterion 7 Indicators