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SDe-News
Sustainable Development e-News


Commentary

Montréal Process Criteria & Indicators:
Present Benefits, Future Challenges

By John Heissenbuttel, Vice President,
Forest and Wood Products Division,
American Forest & Paper Association


The Roundtable on Sustainable Forests was formed seven years ago as a forum for supporting Federal efforts to implement the Montréal Process Criteria & Indicators (C&I) and to share information and perspectives on progress toward sustainable forest management on public and private forests. The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) was a key driver in the Roundtable's formation and has since been an active participant. AF&PA is the national trade association of the forest, wood, and paper products industry, representing almost 200 member companies and related trade associations, which grow, harvest, and process wood and wood fiber.

The C&I provide an objective framework for gathering and assessing national-level data on forest conditions and changes, and allow forest managers and policy-makers to consider options using common data. The National Report on Sustainable Forests--2003 represented a major undertaking by the Federal Government to collect and present data related to the C&I, with valuable input from a broad range of stakeholders through the Roundtable. One of the strongest aspects of the report is its identification of data gaps and recommendations for future actions.

The publication of that report by no means signals that the work related to the C&I is complete. Rather, as the report suggests, there is the need to continue pushing for better data to allow us to make better decisions regarding our Nation's forests. The report established a baseline against which to assess progress into the future, and it will, therefore, be critical to continue to collect data and produce reports at regular intervals to allow us to measure change.

The Roundtable can also play a critical role in helping to refine the C&I. After 10 years of using C&I, the Forest Service and its stakeholders are participating in an international process to improve the indicators and strengthen the utility of experience in C&I as an information and management tool. This will not represent a wholesale rewriting of the C&I, but some adjustments based on the experience of the first report to ensure that we are capturing the right data and asking the right questions.

AF&PA developed the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) program in 1994 as a comprehensive system of principles, objectives, and performance measures designed to improve the sustainable management of program participants' forest lands. The SFI is a means to translate the national-level C&I to on-the-ground practices. Since its creation, one of the foundations of the SFI program has been continual improvement. A critical aspect of that is collecting data and reporting on progress, similar to the goals of the Montréal Process C&I. In fact, the SFI Standard was recently updated with changes that reflect an even stronger alignment with the Montréal Process C&I.

The challenge for the future of C&I will be the same as it has been since the start: to ensure that the C&I are objective, non-value laden measures at the national level of key components of the forest ecosystem.

John Heissenbuttel

John Heissenbuttel is Vice President, Forestry and Wood Products Division, at the American Forest & Paper Association. He is responsible for managing the association's Forest Resources Group, Wood Products International Department and the American Wood Council. In this role he is responsible for identifying and pursuing issue priorities, strategic goals, and imperatives for ensuring fiber supply and access to wood product markets for member companies. Heissenbuttel is known for providing the staff leadership to create and implement AF&PA's Sustainable Forestry Initiative® program. He is a former President of the Society of American Foresters, a 16,000-member organization of professional foresters in the United States.

Return to SDe-News Spring 2005
 
         

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    Last Modified: Tuesday, April 5, 2005