Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

Other reports in this collection Consistency with Internationally Recognized Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management and Sustainable Agriculture Sustainable forest management

Since the UNCED, several intergovernmental efforts have been initiated to develop criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. These efforts include the Helsinki Process (covering 39 European countries), the Montreal Process (covering 12 non-European countries in the temperate and boreal zones), the Tarapoto Process (covering the eight countries in the Amazonian Cooperation Treaty), and the International Tropical Timber Organization (covering most forested countries in the tropics). In addition, several efforts to establish criteria and indicators at the national and subnational levels build on these international approaches and adapt them to national and local forest conditions (WCFSD, 1999).

These and similar (e.g., FAO, 1995a) criteria and indicators are generally moving beyond a narrowly defined focus on the productivity of timber and other commercial forest products to incorporate ecological and social dimensions of sustainability. For example, the broad forest values developed as criteria under the Montreal Process for the conservation and sustainable management of boreal and temperate forests follows:

  • Conservation of biological diversity
  • Maintenance of the productive capacity of forest ecosystems
  • Maintenance of forest ecosystem health and vitality
  • Conservation and maintenance of soil and water resources
  • Maintenance of forest contribution to global carbon cycles
  • Maintenance and enhancement of long-term multiple socioeconomic benefits to meet societal needs
  • Effective legal, institutional, and economic framework for forest conservation and sustainable management.

The development of multiple national and international efforts to develop criteria and indicators has led some observers, including the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development (WCFSD), to propose that some elements of these approaches can be usefully harmonized (WCFSD, 1999). The WCFSD further suggests that these criteria and indicators should be based on a strategy for sustainable forest management that reflects several broadly applicable objectives, including the following:

  • Indefinitely satisfying needs for timber, fiber, and non-timber forest products
  • Ensuring conservation of soil and water
  • Sustaining the resilience and renewal capacity of forests
  • Supporting food security and livelihood needs of forest-dependent communities
  • Conserving biological diversity
  • Achieving the foregoing goals in a manner that is consistent with the incremental productive capacity of forests and requirements for ecological security
  • Realizing a more equitable sharing of benefits from uses to which forests are put
  • Increasing management, cultivation, harvesting, and utilization of minor forest products as potential pillars of sustainable forestry to sustain livelihoods from dwindling resources
  • Securing tenural rights of forest-dependent populations as a means of promoting conservation.

Parties seeking to implement sustainable forest management in the context of LULUCF climate mitigation measures may be able to adapt the criteria and indicators developed under one or more of these international processes. It is important to recognize, however, that many of these general criteria address national-level policy and sustainability and are not intended to directly assess sustainability at the forest stand level. Indeed, some objectives will likely prove to be mutually contradictory, particularly when they are applied in small ecological units. For example, economically viable timber harvesting often may not be reconcilable with the conservation of mature forest-dependent biological diversity in the same forest tract (Section 2.5.1; Frumhoff, 1995; Bawa and Seidler, 1998).

For site-specific projects, Parties might find the criteria and indicators that the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has developed for the management of natural forests (CIFOR C&I Team, 1999; Prabhu et al., 1999) particularly valuable. The CIFOR criteria and indicators were based on research in large-scale natural forests that are managed for commercial timber production in Indonesia, Cote d'Ivoire, Brazil, and Cameroon, with additional sites in Germany, Austria, and the United States. These criteria and indicators provide a useful framework for evaluating policy, environmental, social, and production aspects of sustainable forest management and are designed to be readily adaptable to local conditions. CIFOR is also planning to develop criteria and indicators for tropical plantations and community-managed forests.

One tool for encouraging voluntary application of sustainable forest management criteria and indicators to LULUCF projects that have timber or non-timber products involves forest product certification. Certification is a process that links market demands for sustainably produced forest products with producers who can meet those demands. Certification may reward the performance of companies that adopt sound forestry practices by enabling them to maintain or improve the marketability of wood or other forest products (FAO, 1997a; WCFSD, 1999). Currently, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and its accredited certifiers offer one approach to product certification. Parties might wish to consider whether and under what conditions encouragement of market certification of forest products could strengthen the capacity of managed forests to meet carbon mitigation and sustainable development goals.

The International Standards Organization (ISO), through its ISO 14000 series, also provides a framework for certifying forest management (and other environmental management) systems (ISO, 1996). Unlike FSC, the ISO does not identify performance standards and does not allow a label to be attached to forest products. Instead, ISO 14000 management standards are designed to allow the setting of specific environmental and sustainable development criteria for LULUCF projects. Projects could then be managed on an ongoing basis to attain those goals, and independent auditors could verify whether the management system was consistent with the standard.

If Parties wish to implement ISO 14000 management standards for forest or other projects under the Kyoto Protocol, they would need to define and periodically update the sustainable development guidelines for LULUCF project activities. Project participants could then employ the ISO 14000 standards as a means of assessing compliance with those guidelines, with independent auditing carried out by an existing pool of accredited private-sector agents. This Special Report does not analyze the potential cost and time implications of adopting ISO management standards for LULUCF projects.

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