Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

4 Comparison of criteria and indicators under major processes

As various earlier reports (e.g. Lammerts van Bueren & Blom 1997, CIFOR 199) have shown, a comprehensive comparison of the international sets of C&I is a major effort. In the following, we focus on five aspects only: (i) level of application, (ii) hierarchical structure, (iii) commonalities at criterion level, (iv) the development process, and (v) definitions.

4.1 Level of application

All the international processes have produced a C&I set to be applied at national level. Only four processes have also produced sets of criteria and indicators to be applied at the FMU level, i.e. ATO, ITTO, MCPFE and Tarapoto (Table 1.1). Countries participating in the Montreal Process and in the Lepaterique Process have started to review also the application at sub-national levels. In the case of ATO, ITTO and Tarapoto, the same structural approach has been adopted as in the C&I while in the case of the MCPFE, the Pan-European Operational Level Guidelines for Sustainable Forest Management (PEOLG) define, under each criterion, (a) guidelines for forest management planning, and (b) guidelines for forest management practices. The former (a) define desirable characteristics for the management system of the operational unit, and the latter (b) define performance specifications for how forestry should be practiced. This is an important departure from the mostly descriptive nature of the C&I.

Table 1.1 Application levels of international C&I processes

Application level

C&I Process






Dry-Zone Africa

Near East

Dry Forest Asia



X a)


















(X) c)





X d)


a) Pan-European Operational Level Guidelines.
b) Some participating countries have agreed to review and consider possible elements for criteria and indicators at the forest management unit level.
c) The same set of C&I is to be used at regional and national level.
d) Services at the global level containing one criterion ("economic, social and environmental services performed by Amazonian forests") and seven indicators.

In the case of ITTO and Tarapoto, the C&I at national and FMU levels are compatible with each other. In the case of ATO, only one of the criteria is defined at national level while the other four refer to the FMU level.

While the Montreal Process has not produced a common C&I set for FMU level, some participating countries have agreed to review and consider possible elements for criteria and indicators at that level. The heterogeneity of the group of countries has been mentioned as one of the reasons why it was not deemed desirable to agree upon such a set. Some countries have been working on subnational C&I due to the federal structure of the country (e.g. Australia and USA).

The Near East and Lepaterique processes identify another level of application, i.e. regional. The national C&I are to be used at regional level as well. Indeed, it is difficult to see how the two sets could be significantly different from each other.

The Tarapoto proposal identifies yet another level of application, i.e. global. Only one criterion is here identified referring to the economic, social and environmental services of the Amazonian forests (meeting global timber demand, contribution to global carbon balance, water cycle, biological diversity, equilibrium and regulation of (solar) radiation, and contribution to maintenance of cultural values and knowledge of indigenous and local populations, as well as to economy, health, culture, science and recreation) (TCA 1995). In the other sets, global-level issues are explicitly identified only in the case of carbon cycle (Pan-European, Montreal and Dry Zone Africa). In view of the extent and diverse roles of the Amazonian forests and strong external demands for their conservation, the countries of the Amazon Basin wanted, through the global criterion and its indicators, to seek recognition of the various contributions to global services that their forests make.

As a conclusion, the most common application level for C&I is national serving monitoring and impact assessment (ex post). The growing interest in defining and applying FMU-level C&I is not limited to reporting but they have started to affect setting of objectives and performance requirements (ex ante) (Rametsteiner & Simula 2001). This influence can be both explicit (in the wording of C&I) and implicit when the FMU-level performance requirements are set (e.g. in a certification standard) (cf. Chapter 5).

4.2 Hierarchical structure

The hierarchical structure and consistency are essential for the C&I. From the application point of view, the C&I should be understood as an instrument which contributes to the definition of goals and helps identify how progress in their achievement can be assessed. Indicators can also point areas of action for how goals can be achieved. Relevant components of the hierarchical framework include: (a) a goal, in this case SFM, (b) a principle or a fundamental law or rule, serving as a basis for reasoning and action, (c) a criterion describing a state of aspect of the forest ecosystem, or a state of the social system which should be in place as a result of adherence to a principle, (d) an indicator as a quantitative or qualitative parameter which can be assessed in relation to a criterion, and (e) a verifier defining the source of information for the indicator, or for the reference value for the indicator. The reference value may also be expressed as a norm which serves as a rule or a basis for comparison (Lammerts van Bueren and Blom 1997). These elements define part of the management system of an operational unit (FMU) but they also apply at national level.

All the international processes consider SFM as the overall goal in the context of C&I. However, only one of the processes, ATO, has included principles in the hierarchical structure of its C&I (Table 1.2). ITTO has also defined a set of principles applicable at FMU. They are contained in the ITTO Guidelines for Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests (1990)1. These principles contain normative elements but they are not systematically linked with the C&I developed later on by the Organization and the current role of the Guidelines is somewhat unclear.

The ATO set of PC&I also contain subindicators (totalling 188). They provide detailed specifications for performance or measures for how indicators can be broken down into components2. In this way, the ATO PCI represent the most elaborated form of international C&I set. Their comprehensive implementation by forest managers in Africa will be a challenging task.

Table 1.2 Hierarchical structure of regional C&I processes

Hierarchi-cal level

C&I Process






Dry-Zone Africa

Near East

Dry Forest Asia






(41) b)





















































Key: P=Principle, C=Criterion, I=Indicator, SI=Subindicator
a) Pan-European Operational Level Guidelines, which contain six Pan-European Criteria (as at national level) and 45 guidelines for forest management planning and forest management practices.
b) ITTO principles are included in the ITTO Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests (1990) containing a total of 41 Principles and 36 possible actions. The principles are not related to C&I as they were developed earlier than the C&I.

4.3 Contents of national-level criteria

The C&I sets developed under the government-led regional initiatives share a considerable degree of commonality between them. Although the wording and at times the grouping of components within individual criteria may differ from process to process, the criteria agreed upon are conceptually very similar in all cases. Annex 3 attempts to summarize how the criteria of the nine international processes are related to each other. The seven common themes are listed in Box 4.1.

Box 1.1 Seven globally applicable criteria for SFM identified by intergovernmental processes for C&I

1. Extent of forest resources

2. Forest health and vitality

3. Productive functions of forests

4. Biological diversity

5. Protective functions of forests

6. Socio-economic benefits and needs

7. Policy and institutional framework

Source: Rametsteiner & Simula 2001

It is apparent that work done on national-level criteria and indicators, and in many regions on sub-national level, provides a solid basis for further work for establishing a common global understanding on what constitutes SFM. The IPF called for further efforts to enhance comparability and compatibility between various international and regional C&I processes and stressed the importance of achieving a common understanding of mutual recognition among sets of criteria and indicators "as tools for assessing trends in forest management and conditions...". It can also be expected that the compatibility of various sets will further increase, as part of their future development. This process will take time and without a concerted effort involving all the initiatives, better comparability and consistency may not be achieved in the near future.

It has been claimed that from the beginning, the formulation of criteria and indicators has suffered from a bias towards environmental concerns and economic interests. Social aspects have been covered to a varying and often unsatisfactory extent. A second drawback for an adequate incorporation of the social dimension has been the lack of commonality among processes between the sets of criteria and indicators. This is due to differences in the choice and in the definition of parameters (Poschen 2000). It has been suggested that ILO texts could provide a basis for shared criteria and indicators of social aspects of sustainable forest management (see for example ITTO 1998 and CIFOR 1998), and ILO has compiled them in a useful document (Poschen 2000).

4.4 Development process

All the C&I processes have been government-led. The role of experts has been important and they may have, in most cases, included representatives of various stakeholder groups. The resulting C&I sets have generally been based on expert meetings and workshops in which the available scientific knowledge was duly considered. While at international level, consultations with stakeholders were generally limited, they have been typically used when national C&I sets have been developed.

Some of the processes involving developing countries (ITTO, ATO, Dry Zone Africa, Dry Forest Asia, Near East and Lepaterique) have benefited from strong support by international organizations, notably FAO, ITTO and CIFOR.

The IPF has provided some guidelines for how the C&I should be developed: C&I should be formulated through a transparent process involving all interested parties, including forest dwellers, indigenous people and local communities, as well as forest owners and other major groups, where applicable3. In addition to the participatory approach, the Panel encouraged countries to take cognizance of their specific conditions and that further scientific and technical examination, including field testing, would be useful4. The process is dynamic and iterative. Participation of stakeholders is considered an essential requirement. This issue will be further addressed when the existing C&I sets are revised. Where it has occurred, effective broad participation has significantly contributed to the acceptability of C&I as a policy instrument and thereby their implementation.

4.5 Definitions

International and regional C&I processes use slightly different definitions for criteria and indicators (Box 1.2). Some processes take definitions as granted.

Box 1.2 Definitions related to criteria and indicators for SFM


  • IPF: Criteria define the essential elements of sustainable forest management.
  • MCPFE: Criteria characterize or define the essential elements or set of conditions or processes by which sustainable forest management may be assessed.
  • Montreal Process: A category of conditions or processes by which sustainable forest management may be assessed.
  • ITTO: An aspect that is considered important by which sustainable forest management may be assessed.
  • ISCI: Aspects that are considered important and by which success or failure can be judged. The role of criteria is to characterize or define the essential elements or set of conditions or processes by which sustainable forest management may be assessed.


  • IPF: Indicators provide a basis for actual forest conditions.
  • MCPFE: The direction of change within each criterion is shown by periodically measured indicators.
  • Montreal Process: A measure (measurement) of an aspect of the criterion. A quantitative or qualitative variable which can be measured or described and which, when observed periodically, demonstrates trends.
  • ITTO: A quantitative, qualitative or descriptive attribute that, when periodically measured or monitored, indicates the direction of change
  • ISCI: Quantitative, qualitative or descriptive measures that when periodically measured and monitored show the direction of change.

As regards criterion, the differences in wording relate to whether it defines "elements", "aspects" or "category of conditions" for SFM. Assessibility is a common feature in all definitions (except IPF).

There is some variation in how an indicator is defined even though all definitions refer to measurability. It can be understood as an attribute (ITTO) or a measure (Montreal, ISCI). The MCPFE definition is linked with measuring the direction of change which may be a limited interpretation. Indicators can be qualitative or quantitative and in two cases (ITTO, ISCI) their possible descriptive role was identified. Also the IPF noted the added value of descriptive indicators.

Each regional process has applied its own definitions for criteria, indicators and other key terms. As the processes have not been formally or operationally linked with each other, this has not been a cause of concern. However, possible inconsistencies pose problems, particularly for countries which belong to more than one process if they are required to prepare parallel reports.

In most cases, the criteria are short statements on relevant elements to be considered and indicators tend to be descriptive. Both quantitative and qualitative indicators have been used. The interpretation varies also between the levels of application. E.g., the ATO national-level C&I define required functions and activities of the state or the public policy, while the FMU elements are comparable with the other international sets.

The issue of different definitions in key supporting terms is probably more complex to solve and will also involve linkages with various forest-related definitions of international conventions and instruments. As an example, the definition of forest type was raised in the Montreal meeting (2000) of the Montreal Process (Mankin, pers. comm.). The Montreal C&I apply forest types in general terms referring to broad categories of various types of forests. On the other hand, the ITTO C&I deal with forest types as a localized concept referring to "a naturally occurring community of trees and associated plant species" (ITTO 1998).

Differences of the core definitions of the C&I are expressions of slightly different viewpoints on how criteria should be assessed by means of indicators. The differences are not fundamental and could probably be harmonized. In the long run, there will be a need to develop comparability and equivalence between the various forest-related definitions, including those used by the international and regional C&I processes, not least because of the countries' reporting requirements under different international instruments and in different fora. The ongoing FAO-led process on harmonizing forest-related definitions for use by various stakeholders which was called for by the UNFF has not (yet) tackled the definitions related specifically to the C&I for SFM (FAO 2002).

5 Criteria and indicators as tools of national forest policy

The existing regional and national sets of C&I for SFM have been developed from the policy point of view and their purpose is generally to identify relevant aspects to be covered in forest management at national and operational unit levels. The main purpose has been to provide a tool for monitoring of progress in achieving the goal of SFM. The IPF recognized a fairly broad role for C&I as a policy tools providing a conceptual framework for policy formulation and evaluation (cf. Chapter 2). C&I can help define the goals of national forest programs and policies with which they are implemented.

The holistic nature of the C&I is particularly valuable in this context but it also represents challenges for value judgement between various SFM aspects. In particular, the role of C&I is important in assessing trends in forest conditions and how and to whom benefits are generated. Contrary to international conventions, the international sets of C&I are not normative but voluntary instruments. However, once national sets have been developed based on the international/regional ones, depending on the framework, governments or state forestry organizations have approved them, they become committed to apply these at national or sub-national levels, including for monitoring. Usually, the state forestry organizations and respective ministries are involved in drafting of national C&I which can then provide a framework for forest policy planning. The C&I can identify the elements for sustainable forest management to be considered in normative regulations and other guidance for forest management and its monitoring, as appropriate.

The following two examples highlight the implementation of C&I in two different countries, Finland and Malaysia, which have been spearheading the development and application of national C&I for SFM (Box 5.1 and Box 5.2).

The Malaysian case shows that (i) the process of developing the national C&I is time-consuming, (ii) the resulting set can be effectively implemented to strengthen internal auditing of the forest authority, and (iii) certification standards can be developed based on the national C&I. However, both internal auditing and certification need to be based on activities and local standards of performance against which auditing is possible.

The Finnish case provides lessons for (i) avoiding too many indicators, (ii) need to learn by doing and revise the C&I accordingly, (iii) importance of field-level testing and application, (iv) importance to involve stakeholders, and (v) need to link C&I with national and subnational-level forest programs, primarily as a monitoring tool. The national C&I were used as one of the references when a national certification standard was developed in Finland, but the two are structurally different unlike in the Malaysian case.

Valuable lessons learned have also been gained in other countries which have developed and applied their national C&I. A total of about 30 countries have developed national C&I sets, half of them under the MCPFE and Montreal Processes (Annex 4).

6 Criteria and indicators at forest management unit level

6.1 Need for criteria and indicators at Forest Management Unit level

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has largely focused on research on C&I at the FMU level, assisting countries in field testing. FAO, ITTO, IUCN, IUFRO, UNEP and UNDP, as well as non-governmental organizations, communities and the private sector have also supported work on the development and field testing of national and sub-national level criteria and indicators. Several of the government-led processes, such as the ITTO, Tarapoto and ATO, have elaborated C&I sets for the FMU level. This can be taken as an expression of the fact that there has been growing realization that sustainability issues are multiscaled and that the national goals of sustainability rest, in large part, on the actions that are carried out at the FMU scale. Most of the decisions about management occur at this level (Wright, 2002).

6.2 Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

CIFOR considers criteria and indicators for SFM as an innovative tool to conceptualize, evaluate and implement sustainable forest management at national, sub-national or forest management unit levels. In 1999, CIFOR published a comprehensive toolkit to assist countries in the development and evaluation of C&I. The conceptual framework presented in the toolkit aimed at harmonizing the basis for C&I development at the national level. CIFOR's interpretation of sustainable forest management is as follows: A set of objectives, activities and outcomes consistent with maintaining or improving the forest's ecological integrity and contributing to people's well-being both now and in the future. The concepts of ecosystem integrity and well-being of people is further explained in the toolkit. The C&I Toolbox Series comprises 9 of the 10 tools (tool no. 10 is still under development) which were developed during the CIFOR project on Testing Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. The tools are aimed to help users develop and assess C&I of sustainable and equitable forest management. CIFOR has also developed CIMAT (Criteria and Indicators Modification and Adaptation Tool) which is a knowledge-based system developed to support the process of developing and assessing locally adapted C&I.

CIFOR has greatly contributed to testing of C&I in tropical and temperate countries and the following key attributes were identified to judge the usefulness of a set of C&I at the FMU-level assessment or as a tool for improving the forest management:

Box 5.1 Development of Malaysian criteria and indicators and certification standards for SFM

Development process of national- and FMU-level C&I for SFM

Malaysia can be considered a leading country among ITTO producer Member countries in the application of the ITTO C&I. The work has taken place through two lines of action:

(i) the development of national- and FMU-level C&I for reporting on progress and auditing of performance by the Forestry Department under the auspices of the National Committee on SFM established in 1994,

(ii) the development of forest management certification under the National Timber Certification Council (NTCC), registered as a company in 1998, which recently changed its name to Malaysian Timber Certification Council.

The development processes for the two purposes have been complementary to each other and they have included a series of testing exercises and consultations with interested parties (Appanah et al. 1997, Appanah et al. 1999, Tang 2000).

In 1994, Malaysia commenced work on developing Malaysian Criteria and Indicators (MC&I) for sustainable forest management by elaborating and operationalising the ITTO Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests and its Criteria for the Measurement of Sustainable Tropical Forest Management. A National Committee on Sustainable Forest Management (the Committee) was established in February 1994 comprising representatives from the Ministry of Primary Industries, Malaysia; the Forestry Departments of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak; the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia; the Malaysian Timber Industry Board; the Malaysian Timber Council and the Faculty of Forestry, University Putra Malaysia, to ensure the implementation of the above-mentioned ITTO guidelines in the Malaysian context. The work was spearheaded by the Forestry Department Headquarters, Kuala Lumpur.

The Committee formulated a total of 92 activities to operationalise ITTO's 5 criteria and the 27 indicators on SFM at the national level, covering forest resource security, continuity of flow of forest products and services, socio-economic effects, community consultation, and an acceptable level of environmental impact, including the conservation of biological diversity.

The Committee also identified a total of 84 activities to be implemented at the forest management unit (FMU) level under the six criteria of ITTO and its 23 indicators. In its development, the Committee had added 7 additional indicators to those identified at the national level to the FMU level.

In formulating the 92 and 84 activities for implementation at the national and FMU levels respectively, the National Committee had also taken into consideration the Principles and Criteria for Forest Management of the Forest Stewardship Council and those of the Germany's Tropenwald Initiative. It took into account, as well, the Principles and Recommendations enshrined in the ITTO Guidelines on the Conservation of Biological Diversity in Tropical Production Forests.

The Malaysian Criteria & Indicators (MC&I)5 is a hierarchical system which includes seven criteria, as well as a number of indicators, activities and standards of performance. In order to ensure that the indicator is implemented, a set of activities or actions would have to be taken and hence, activities can be defined as tasks that have to be performed to realize the indicator or indicators. Management specifications provide further detailed information of the standards by providing exact information on measurement procedures, quantities, materials, thresholds, etc., that is, something established for use as a rule of basis of comparison in quantifying the indicators or judging capacity, quantity, value and quality (Tang 1997). These management specifications are called standards of performance in the MC&I.

The process of developing the C&I in Malaysia showed that (i) all the ITTO Criteria are applicable in the country conditions, and (ii) not all the ITTO Indicators were found relevant (two were omitted), and (iii) three items were added to the ITTO Indicator list. As regards the certification criteria, four indicators were omitted and three indicators were considered to be possibly included in the MC&I at a later stage (Tang 2000.)

Monitoring and evaluation

A task force, established since 1995, functions as a watchdog committee to ensure proper implementation of MC&I activities in the field. The Forestry Department Headquarters Peninsular Malaysia also formed a Technical Monitoring Committee in October 1995 to oversee the activities undertaken by the respective State Forestry Departments in Peninsular Malaysia.

An internal assessment procedure was also developed for the MC&I. The process essentially consists of three main components namely the preparation of the assessment, the assessment itself, and reporting. The procedure involves specialized assessors (auditors) and forest managers. The former are responsible for approved procedures and technical standards whereas the latter provide the necessary information.

Source: NTCC (2000), Baharuddin and Simula (2001), Tang (2000)

Box 5.2 C&I as tools of national forest policy in Finland

In Finland, the preparation of national criteria and indicators was started in 1994 through a broad-based consultative process. The first set of national criteria and indicators was finalized in 1995, and the first report on the status of national criteria and indicators was completed and published in 1997. The national criteria and indicators were updated under a broad stakeholder committee established by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry from 1998 to 2000 when the second national status report was published by this committee. At sub-national (regional) level, respective criteria and indicators were prepared, initially in a pilot project for one region in 1995, and later on from 1998 to 2001 for all the regions of Finland, as a part of the up-dating of the regional forest programs.

In Finland the forest policy and strategy are articulated in the National Forest Program 2010 and respective regional forest programs. The criteria and indicators have influenced the formulation, and particularly the updating, of the National Forest Program. The criteria and indicators are specifically seen as means to monitor the implementation of the National Forest Program, i.e. the criteria and indicators are seen as tools in the national forest policy process. At a broader level, some of the indicators for sustainable forest management have been taken as indicators for monitoring of the national strategy for natural resource management. The C&I process has also influenced the recent updating of national guidelines for forest management practices at forest management unit level.

The Finnish C&I process shows the typical learning curve in national C&I processes: in the beginning, the C&I system tends to become excessively complicated and cumbersome, particularly due to broad participation and therefore the extensive consultation process to consider the multitude of interests and concerns. The first C&I set (1995) included 160 indicators. During the course of the follow-on work, all the stakeholders realized that such an inordinate list of indicators merely overwhelm all the partners, and obscure any good intentions to transparently monitor forest policy implementation instead of bringing light into the darkness. The new set of C&I (2000) has reduced the number of indicators to 47. There seems to be common understanding among forestry practitioners in Finland that the regional level indicators should be no more than 10 - 15.

Another but related lesson form the Finnish C&I process showed that collecting data on indicators proved to be more demanding than expected. Some parameters that had proved to be effective indicators of sustainability were difficult to express in quantitative terms, or there was no comprehensive statistical data available on them.

Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2000)

CIFOR has also developed guidelines for decision makers for multi-criteria analysis in the assessment of criteria and indicators with partly contradictory objectives, e.g. cost-efficiency and inputs to biodiversity protection.

6.3 ITTO

Within the context of ITTO, two main ways to put the C&I into practice are defined: as a policy tool, and in auditing of individual FMUs. Auditing can be internal, i.e. by the organization itself as part of its management system, or external, i.e. by an independent third party. In the latter case, the result is typically used for communication on the status or quality of forest management in a defined area. ITTO has been actively promoting the use of C&I in auditing work.

Versions of ITTO's Manuals on the Application of C&I (1999) were prepared separately for national and FMU levels. Regional workshops organized to discuss the manuals showed that application at FMU level is a major task. The auditing framework developed by ITTO for C&I (2001) was designed to assist in adopting the C&I as part of the management system at the forest management unit level.

In June 2001, ITTO was requested to organize national-level workshops in the major producer countries to train officials, forest managers, forest concessionaires and others directly involved in SFM in the effective use of the ITTO reporting formats for C&I at both national and FMU levels. This was linked with national reporting on the ITTO Objective 2000. Eleven countries have indicated their interest in organizing training on C&I. This would require preparatory work by individual FMUs to collect data on the relevant items based on a questionnaire derived from the ITTO reporting format. ITTO's purpose is to build up reliable databases in its producer Member countries from bottom-up, i.e. compiling the information on individual FMUs which can then be aggregated at national level. At the same time, national reporting procedures would be established which may involve regulatory obligations to provide data.

Compilation of data will be a major effort when done the first time but annual monitoring would be much simpler once the baseline has been established. Collection of socio-economic data is expected to be difficult due to lack of information. The ITTO approach will be a long process but it is a realistic practical approach where the number of FMUs providing data will be increased gradually (Johnson, pers. comm.).

In November 2001, a decision was made to provide support for countries which intend to apply the auditing framework for the C&I in their conditions. This will be complementary effort to applying the ITTO reporting format, as it would focus on the use of C&I as a management tool by FMUs.

6.4 Development of local-level indicators

Developing a set of C&I at the FMU level requires substantial adaptation. Some indicators developed for the national scale that may not be applicable at an FMU scale include those related to global carbon sink contribution, land reservations for protected areas or sectoral socio-economic contributions of forestry (e.g. to GDP), etc. However, most of the national-level indicators can also be applied at the FMU level. In an evaluation of the applicability of the Montreal Process C&I on the FMU level, the LUCID project (in the United States) found that 98% of the ecological indicators and 59% of the socio-economic and management indicators of the Montreal Process were also applicable at FMU level in National Forests (Wright, 2002). In Australia, it was found that among the 67 Montreal Process indicators, 28 had significantly different wording in subnational indicators, ten were deemed not to be useful at this level and eight new indicators were introduced (Buchanan, 2002b).

Local-level indicators (LLI) can be applied to assess the status or quality of forest management in a particular area, from a small private woodlot to a million-hectare forest management unit. LLI are widely accepted frameworks for defining, measuring and monitoring sustainability, and form the basis of sustainable forest management planning. Two countries have been particularly active in the development of LLI, i.e., Canada and the United States.

Canada's model forests are forests in which innovative sustainable forest management practices are developed, tested, and then shared across the country. Each model forest has developed a suite of LLI, most based on the six criteria espoused by Canada's forest ministers. The model forest network has held LLI workshops across Canada and developed "A User's Guide to Local Level Indicators of Sustainable Forest Management: Experiences from the Canadian Model Forest Network" to share their knowledge and experiences in indicator development and application (Buchanan, 2002a). The Canadian experience shows how model forests can be used as a research laboratory for this purpose. The model forests identified three broad steps to developing and using LLI: (i) identifying LLI, (ii) gathering data, and (iii) applying LLI for monitoring and reporting.

After local-level tests on C&I were carried out in Brazil with CIFOR's assistance, the United States Forest Service decided to launch Local Unit Criteria and Indicators Development (LUCID) Project which was aimed at expanding the science-based evaluation to develop a forest-scale monitoring program for sustainable social, economic, and ecological systems. The project demonstrated that a systems approach provides an effective organizing framework to develop a sustainability monitoring program for large FMUs. The lessons learned suggested that sustainability was inherently a long-term social concept and required developing of a common language. Its assessments are relative, not deterministic, in nature and its monitoring is an iterative process. All results are contextual and without sufficient detail and interpretation have little meaning. However, it was possible to identify a core suite of indicators and recommended measures (Wright, 2002).

The North American experiments with the development of local-level indicators for sustainability are valuable emphasizing the bottom-up approach where the national C&I set only provides an initial reference framework.

6.5 Forest certification and C&I for SFM

Criteria and indicators for SFM and forest certification share many similarities but there are also significant differences between these two concepts. Similarities concern the broad common goals and general approaches. Both tools are voluntary approaches to promote SFM. They incorporate key elements of sustainability as defined internationally, using C&I frameworks as a conceptual basis. Both rely on data collection for reporting on establishing evidence.

Significant distinctions between C&I applications and certification systems concern scale, purpose, outcome, target groups and participating actors. The scale of C&I frameworks range from national to FMU level. Many government-led processes focus on national-level frameworks. National level C&I are an important reference basis for forest certification even though they are primarily developed for reporting on forest conditions at the national level. They are not intended for assessment of the performance of forest management either at the national level or at the forest management unit level.

Forest certification, on the other hand, is mainly concerned with the sub-national, particularly FMU, level. Some private initiatives related to certification have elaborated C&I sets but their purpose is different. While C&I sets are a descriptive approach, forest certification is essentially based on prescriptive standards. These standards in turn are conceptually often based on the descriptive C&I sets. Consequently, also the outcomes are different. C&I contain no targets or performance expectations, while certification is an assessment against performance standards. Due to the different scale and purpose, significant differences are found with regard to the target groups of the two tools and the typical groups that participate in their development. While the elaboration of C&I sets is often led by governmental bodies, forest certification standards and systems are set up by private bodies.

It is apparent that work done on national-level and sub-national criteria and indicators, provides a solid basis for establishing a common global understanding on what constitutes SFM. It can also be expected that the conceptual compatibility of various C&I sets will further increase, thanks to their future development. Progress in this area will be highly important for regionally and locally adapted, yet globally recognizable certification standards.

Regarding performance requirements for indicators, the current level of performance and the desired direction of change has largely to be defined in local situations. Due to the heterogeneity of local conditions, it would be difficult and probably undesirable to specify common threshold levels, e.g., across forest types. Such specification could be developed through a participatory process at a local or national level, taking into account the relevant internationally agreed SFM framework as well as the work done by neighbouring regions in order to make the resulting standard internationally acceptable. This would allow taking into account the full range of forest values for society as well (Rametsteiner & Simula, forthcoming).

7 Challenges and opportunities for criteria and indicators

In order to develop the monitoring of sustainability in forestry into a transparent, continuous and efficient system, the systems of gathering data to measure sustainability must be improved. The main challenges related to C&I in the developed countries are rooted in general economic constraints and thereby data collection and capacity to implement C&I6.

In the developing countries, in addition to these, a whole range of problems has to be overcome. While some processes (e.g. Pan-European, Montreal, Tarapoto, ITTO) have been frequently meeting and discussing issues to operationalize implementation of C&I, other processes, particularly those involving developing countries, have not been active. There have been few follow-up meetings to review the progress and share the problems faced by the member countries. Without external assistance or other incentives, the progress is likely to remain slow. Lack of capacity in terms of trained manpower and resources have been a serious problem for development and implementation of C&I for SFM by many member countries in Africa and Asia.

Some of the key opportunities and elements of a solution to this problem include the continual commitment of those involved to SFM and making the process work; continued sharing of information and techniques; and meeting self-imposed targets for progress. Since the C&I include all the elements of SFM, they present a comprehensive approach for monitoring, assessment and reporting on SFM. In addition, C&I facilitate domestic implementation of SFM and its documentation (cf. Buchanan 2002). However, in the absence of a commonly agreed format for Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting at sub-national, national or global-level, there appears to be no clear consensus among the countries to start operationalization and reporting using C&I as a basis. Such an agreement would greatly contribute to adopting C&I as a management tool in all countries.

Broad participation of different stakeholders in the process of developing national or subnational sets of C&I would be a key opportunity for wider utilization of this instrument. The limited participation of stakeholders in the development of many international C&I sets may partly explain why progress in implementation has been slow.

There are different views among stakeholders on need for consistency and convergence between international C&I processes but there is little doubt that harmonization of related concepts, definitions and even C&I themselves would facilitate comparability and reporting at international level. Improved consistency would not be difficult to achieve as there is a common understanding on the main components of the C&I. Making progress in this field would, however, require additional efforts at international level to revise or adjust the existing C&I sets for greater consistency and compatibility. However, increasing apparent commonality (wording, structure) should not be the principal objective as greater comparability and compatibility can also be established by other means, e.g., relating similar components in various C&I sets to each other.

There are conceptual and definitional issues in the various C&I processes which should be addressed to facilitate application in participating countries. Hierarchy and internal consistency between various levels is another important issue and one element which could contribute harmonization.

The C&I processes are still evolving and the various sets are likely to be updated based on new knowledge and experience in application. ITTO was the first initiative which has already revised its original C&I. The next step could be to align the Organization's principles for SFM (ITTO 1990) with the C&I. Hierarchical consistency between the principles and C&I would facilitate their application in practice7. The MCPFE is also in the process of revising its C&I. In the case of others, the benefits resulting from C&I should be large enough to justify the effort to revise them both at international level and in those countries which have already developed national-level C&I based on the respective regional set.

Information exchange and knowledge sharing between the process and agencies involved in similar efforts is still lacking. Collaboration and coordination between the processes would facilitate cross-learning and expansion of implementation process. Adequate mechanisms should be put in place for this purpose.

8 Issues to be addressed

A whole range of issues has to be addressed in order to enhance the effectiveness of C&I as a tool to make progress towards SFM. These issues include:

(i) is harmonization needed between the regional sets of C&I; is a common core set needed at global level and what would be its purpose

(ii) is coordination between regional processes needed and how adequate mechanisms for this purpose could be set up for cooperation and learning from each other's experience

(iii) how can C&I be of best use for Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting

(iv) how to rationalize C&I and forest-related initiatives and instruments to reduce the reporting burden on progress towards SFM in countries

(v) how to improve cross-sectoral coordination and institutional coordination and how to link C&I for SFM with other initiatives on indicators, e.g. those related to sustainable development at international and national levels (cf. FAO, 2000)

(vi) how to create or strengthen political commitment to develop and implement C&I at country level (cf. Prado 2002)

(vii) how to build links between C&I and national forest programs

(viii) how to ensure feedback for continued improvement of the C&I at different levels

(ix) how to ensure and enhance stakeholder partnerships for implementing C&I (cf. Prabhu et al., 2002)

(x) what should be purposes and application of national and subnational C&I, including relationship between them, performance standards and certification (FAO, 2000)

(xi) how to best build up capacity to put C&I into practice, especially in developing countries.


1. Appanah, S., S. Musa, Tang Hooi Chew & I. Parlam (eds.). 1997. Forest Management Certification Workshop Proceedings. Forest Research Institute of Malaysia & Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia. Kepong.

2. Appanah, S. I. Hanan, P.F. Chong and M. Kleine. 1999. Development of Internal Assessment Procedures and a Monitoring System for Sustainable Forest Management in Malaysia. Consultancy Report to the "Forest Certification Project". Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ). Kuala Lumpur.

3. Baharuddin and Simula. 2001. Framework for an Auditing System for ITTO's Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. Final Report.

4. Buchanan, K. 2002a. CFS Input to Paper on Capacity and Resources for Implementing C&I.

5. Castañeda, F., C. Palmberg-Lerche, & P. Vuorinen. 2001. Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management: A Compendium. Forest Management Working Paper 5. FAO Forestry Department.

6. CIFOR. 1999. Criteria & Indicators Toolbox Series 1-9. Bogor.

7. FAO. 2000. Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. Report. FAO Expert Consultation Organized in Collaboration with UNEP, ITTO, CIFOR and IUFRO. Rome, 15-17 November 2000.

8. FAO. 2002. Proceedings of the FAO/WMO/CIFOR/IUFRO/UNEP Expert Meeting on Harmonizing Forest-Related Definitions for use by Various Stakeholders. Rome, Italy 23-25 January 2002. FAO, Rome. 193pp.

9. FAO/UNEP. 2000. Practical Guidelines for the Assessment and Measuring of Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management in the Near East Region. FAO Regional Office for the Near East. Cairo, Egypt; 2000.

10. IFF. 2000. Report of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests on its Fourth Session. E/CN.17/2000/14. New York, 31 January-11 February 2000.

11. IPF. 1997. Report of the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Panel on Forests on its Fourth Session. E/CN.17/1997/12. New York, 11-21 February 1997.

12. ITTO Guidelines for Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests. 1990.

13. ITTO. 1998. Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests. ITTO Policy Development Series 7.

14. ITTO. 2002. Guidelines for the Restoration, Management and Rehabilitation of Degraded and Secondary Tropical Forests.

15. IUFRO/CIFOR/FAO. 1998. Fostering Stakeholder Input to Advance Development of Scientifically-based Indicators. International Conference on Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. Melbourne, 24-28 August 1998.

16. Lammerts van Bueren, E.M. & M. Blom. 1997. Hierarchical Framework for the Formulation of Sustainable Forest Management Standards. Principles, Criteria, Indicators. The Tropenbos Foundation.

17. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. 2000. The State of Forestry in Finland 2000. Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management in Finland. Publications 5a/2000. Helsinki.

18. NTCC. 2000. Assessment Procedures in Using the Malaysian Criteria, Indicators, Activities and Standards of Performance (MC&I) for Forest Management Certification.

19. Poschen, P. 2000. Social Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. A Guide to ILO Texts. ILO/GTZ Working Paper 3.

20. Prabhu, P., P. Abbott, D. Blay, K. Buchanan, F. Castañeda, A. Danso, M. Dudley, J.M. Kim, A. Marjokorpi, M. Nkosi, B. Pokorny, R. Prasad, H. Seppänen, H. Thiel, D. Wijewardena and P. Wright. 2002. Strengthening Institutional Capacity and Stakeholder Partnerships for Implementing Criteria and Indicators and Facilitating the Exchange of Information between All Stakeholders. International Conference on Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management (CICI-2003), "The Contribution of Criteria and Indicators to Sustainable Forest Management: The Way Forward".

21. Prescot-Allen. 1998. Manual of Assessment of Biodiversity. IUCN. Gland.

22. Prado, D., J. A. 2002. Promoting Political Commitment for the Use of Criteria and Indicators as Tools for Sustainable Forest Management. International Conference on Criteria and Indicators to Sustainable Forest Management: The Way Forward. Background Paper No. 2. May 2002.

23. Rametsteiner, E. & M. Simula. 2001. Workshop on Forest Certification: Forging Novel Incentives for Environment and Sustainable Forest Management. Brussels, September 6-7, 2001. Background Paper

24. Rametsteiner, E. & M. Simula. 2002. Promoting Political Commitment for the Use of Criteria and Indicators as Tools for Sustainable Forest Management. International Conference on Criteria and Indicators to Sustainable Forest Management: The Way Forward. Background Paper No. 2.

25. Rametsteiner, E. & M. Simula. (forthcoming). Forest Certification - An Instrument to Promote Sustainable Forest Management?

26. Rametsteiner, E. & D. Wijewardana. 2002. Key Issues in the Future Development of International Initiatives on Forest Related Criteria and Indicators of Sustainable Development. Background Paper #4.

27. TCA. 1995. Propuesta de Tarapoto sobre criterios e indicadores de sostenibilidad del bosque Amazónico. Memorias del taller regional realizado en Tarapoto, Perú, 23 al 25 de Febrero de 1995. Tratado de Cooperación Amazónica.

28. Tang, H.C. 1997. Formulation and Implementation of Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management in Malaysia. In Appanah et al. (eds). 1997.

29. Tang, H.C. 2000. Malaysia's Experiences on Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management and Timber Certification Workshop on Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management and Timber Certification. Yangon, Myanmar, 21-22 February 2000.

30. UNEP/FAO. 2000. Practical Guidelines for the Assessment and Measurement of Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management in Dry-Zone African Countries. Rome, Italy. 2000.

31. UNFF. 2001. International Expert Meeting on Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting on the Progress Toward Sustainable Forest Management. Report. Country-led Initiative in Support of the United Nations Forum on Forests. Yokohama, 5-8 November 2001.

32. Wijewardana, D. 2001. The ITTO Manual on the Application of Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests. Report on the Four Regional Training Workshops and Field Testing. ITTC (XXX)/5.

33. Working Group on Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests (Montréal Process) Technical Advisory Committee, 2001. Examples of Mechanisms for the Development, Identification and Implementation of Subnational Indicators of Sustainable Forest Management that Can Be Linked to National Level Indicators. Pages 15 - 31 IN Scaling National Criteria and Indicators to the Local Level. Natural Resources Canada; Canadian Forest Service; Science Branch, Ottawa. 31 p.

34. Wright, P.A. 2002. Monitoring for Forest Management Unit Scale Sustainability: The Local Unit Criteria and Indicators Development (LUCID) Test. USDA Forest Service Inventory and Monitoring Institute. Report No. 4 2002.

List of internet addresses



Montreal process






Near East Under preparation

Dry Zone Africa Under preparation

Dry Forest in Asia

1 ITTO has other sets of guidelines applicable at FMU level (e.g. management of planted forests, conservation of biological diversity in tropical production forests, and fire management).

2 In the previous version of the draft, verifiers were included for indicators but there were no subindicators.

3 IPF report, para 110.

4 IPF report, para 115 (a).

5 The first version of the MC&I was based on the ITTO C&I (1992) but they have recently revised based on the ITTO C&I (1998).

6 Based on a survey done among international processes.

7 The recently proposed ITTO Guidelines for the Restoration, Management and Rehabilitation of Degraded and Secondary Tropical Forests (2002) applies the concepts of principles which are supported by "recommended actions". These have not been related to the structure of the ITTO C&I which is an illustration of the different purposes of the two instruments.

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page