Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page



In support of Objective No. 2 of CICI-2003
International Conference on the Contribution of Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management: The Way Forward CICI-2003


José Antonio Prado D.1

International Conference on the Contribution of Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management: The Way Forward (CICI-2003)
Guatemala City, Guatemala,
3-7 February 2003


The author wants to thank the valuable collaboration of the following persons: Don Wijewardana; Froylán Castañeda; Jaime Hurtubia; Juan Blas Zapata; Kathryn Buchanan; Laslo Pancel; Marcela Ochoa; Mary Coulombe; Robert Hendricks.



Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, where the first global policy on forest management was adopted, "the Forest Principles", several national and international initiatives have been developed to promote sustainable forest management (SFM). The most comprehensive and effective of these initiatives are the international and regional Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management processes (C&I). Ten years after Rio, more than 150 countries are involved in C&I processes, which have been developed all over the world, considering geographical relations (e.g. MCPFE, Tarapoto, Central America initiatives) or eco-regions (e.g. Montreal Process, ITTO).

"Criteria and Indicators are tools that help identify trends in the forest sector, determine the effects of forest management interventions over time, and facilitate decision making in national forest policy processes. The ultimate aim of these tools is to promote improved forest management practices and to further the development of a healthier and more productive forest estate" (Braatz, 2001). They have contributed to the development of a common understanding on what constitutes SFM and provide a common framework for describing, monitoring and evaluating progress toward SFM, both conceptually and on the ground (Wijewardana, 1997).

Criteria identify the main components of sustainable forest management, including the vital forest functions, such as biological diversity and forest health; socio-economic benefits, as timber production and other forest products and socio-cultural and spiritual values and services, which are, in many cases, even more important than forest products; and the legal and institutional framework needed to facilitate SFM. The indicators can be quantitative or qualitative.

The first process was initiated by ITTO in 1990. Since then, many other processes have been developed around the world. The Helsinki Process grouped 38 European countries, in 1994; the same year the Montreal Process followed, grouping non- European countries with temperate and boreal forests; in 1995 the countries of the Amazonian Cooperation Treaty began to formulate the Tarapoto Proposal; since then other processes have been developing C&I for Dry Zone Africa; Near East Region; Dry-Forest Asia; and Central America- Lepaterique. The African Timber Organization also developed C&I for their member countries.

"Criteria and Indicators (C&I) for sustainable forest management (SFM) have contributed to the development of a common vision of what constitutes SFM and provided countries with a framework for defining SFM. While the C&I framework may not be the only mechanism for monitoring, assessment and reporting (MAP) on SFM, it is one that has been widely accepted." (Yokohama Meeting, 2001). C&I have been described as one of the most innovative forest management tools developed in the 20th century. The reason for such acclaim is that they not only provide countries with tools to implement sustainable forest management but also allow them to document progress so that policy makers can intervene to ensure continued progress towards that goal (Wijewardana, 2002, personal communication). On the other hand, some people believe that C&I, being a voluntary instrument, will never be a really effective tool to progress towards SFM.

In spite of the great interest of countries to join these initiatives and the increasing common understanding on what sustainable forest management should be, progress in implementing C&I has been slow. Only some of the processes have been able to provide any progress report on effective implementation. The Montreal, Pan- European and ITTO processes have already or will soon report, giving an overview of the progress in their respective eco-regions. In most cases, countries are at the early stage of defining national indicators or establishing a set of baseline data that will allow them to monitor future progress.

But not only the implementation of C&I has been slow. The whole world process devoted to advance to SFM is moving at a very slow pace. If we analyze the implementation of the Proposals for Action of the IPF/IFF Process, which constitute the general framework to attain sustainable forest management, we can see the same problem, the implementation process has not been as expected.

According to the review made by ITTO in relation to their Year 2000 Objective, that considers the application of C&I within the countries belonging to this organization, there have been important advances in developing new strategies and master plans for forestry; in reforming legislation and reorganizing institutional arrangements, "however, there is not yet strong evidence that the strategies have been acted upon. The strongest reason for this, advanced in almost all country reports, is the shortage of qualified and trained personnel, and of finance. The impression given by these reports is that the will to implement is there, the means are lacking" (Poor and Thang, 2000).

The great diversity of realities and interests in relation to forests made the application of C&I very dependent on national political will, which so far has not been present. A lack of understanding and commitment by governments seems to be one of the main reasons for the slow advance experienced in relation to sustainable forest management. What are the main reasons for this situation? What can be done to change this attitude? How can political commitment be strengthened? These are the main questions addressed in this background paper.


Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management and the Proposals for Action of the IPF/IFF process are related, particularly when they address policy instruments. (Pinchot Institute, 2002). For this reason, when analyzing the implementation of C&I, it is difficult to avoid the consideration of the whole process that has been developed since UNCED, including IPF/FF; COFO; UNFF and other regional fora. It is not possible to isolate C&I from these other initiatives and agreements, all oriented to reach sustainable forest management. As a forest management tool, C&I can only provide information over time relating to the indicators for each of the criteria. Having such a tool for assessment will be of no use unless there is a commitment to take action in the proper direction.

When analyzing the implementation of IPF/IFF Proposals for Action and the use of C&I, there is general agreement on the slow pace of the process and on the main reasons for it. "At present, many developing countries do not have the capacity to utilize Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management as instruments for monitoring and reporting, even though they recognize their importance for the promotion of sustainable forest management" (UNFF, 2002). In other words, the governments have not given the necessary support to a real advance in reducing deforestation and forest degradation; the loss of biological diversity or generation of greater participation by society in making decisions on the conservation, management and utilization of the forests, among other elements considered in the C&I and IPF/IFF proposals for action.

ITTO has undertaken perhaps the most comprehensive field testing on C&I. It found that in most producer countries, two factors have contributed to the slow progress in applying C&I: The lack of capacity and the absence of political commitment. (Johnson, 2001).

At the international level, comparing the different processes, there is almost an agreement on the main concepts involved in C&I. The problems start at operational level, that is, at national level. Even considering that international cooperation must play a fundamental role to assist developing countries in C&I application, it is decision at national level what will really trigger the application of C&I as well as the implementation of the proposals for action.

Therefore, UNFF considers that political commitment from the international to the country local levels is one of the basic elements to achieve effective implementation of C&I and other agreements on forests by UN fora. The strengthening of political commitment has been considered as one of the six principal functions of the UNFF. Taking into account the strong relationship between these processes, this consideration is also valid when analyzing the application of C&I for sustainable forest management. Rametsteiner and Wijewardana (2002) emphasize the key role that UNFF has to play to generate political commitment at all levels, stressing coordination and collaboration between C&I initiatives and by promoting monitoring, assessment and reporting to international fora. The nature and extent of political commitment required at different stages vary as discussed below.

2.1 Political commitment at international level

Political commitment at international level to promote sustainable forest management emerged during the Rio Summit in 1992. Developed countries committed themselves to provide support to developing countries in order to move towards sustainable forest management. This support has not been as effective as supposed to be.

UNFF should be one of the instruments, with FAO and other international organizations, members of the CPF, for obtaining political commitment at international level to become a reality. To reach an effective political commitment, at the international, regional, national and local levels is a key factor to the successful fulfilment of every aspect of the mandate of the UNFF, including the application of C&I for sustainable forest management.

In less developed countries, the advancement towards sustainable forest management strongly depends on the cooperation that they can receive from developed countries and international organizations, in capacity building, and access to and transfer of environmentally sound technologies to support sustainable forest management. This international cooperation is a key factor to generate national capacities for the elaboration and implementation of SFM, since, as generally recognized; lack of resources is an important limiting factor. In less developed countries, capacity building at national level may be the most effective way to generate commitment. It can generate a powerful chain of education-knowledge-involvement required to advance towards SFM.

Considering that forest conservation and management is a world issue, due to its non-refutable importance for the life on earth, it should receive a preferential treatment by International Cooperation, such as GTZ, JICA, USAID, CIDA, FINNAID, SIDA and other important institutions.

2.2 Political commitment at regional level

Regional agreements to promoting SFM and the application of C&I can be an important incentive for the countries to generate commitment at national level. European countries provide a good example of collaboration and coordination through the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE)."This long-term commitment at the highest political level and a flexible approach to address forest policy issues are main characteristics of the MCPFE which can be regarded as an example for European policy integration" (Mayer, 2002).

Political commitment at regional level can produce important synergies and coordination to generate information; coordinated forest research, especially when countries have similar ecosystems (Sall, 1994); exchange of technical capacities, among others. As examples of these research associations we can mention the European Forest Genetic Resources Programme (EUFORGEN) and the European Network for Research in Forest Ecosystems (EFERN).

In Africa, the African Timber Organization provides a political forum and platform for regional discussion and future coordination. At sub-regional level "The Yaoundé Forest Summit, held in Cameroon in March 1999, was the first time in the history of forest conservation where leaders from neighbouring countries came together to take action for their forests. The principal outcome was the `Yaoundé Declaration' outlining commitments such as the creation of new forest protected areas, and plans to combating illegal logging and poaching" (WWF, 2002). The South American Southern Cone countries, with similar ecosystems, comparable forest ownership, problems and needs, to put C&I into practice have established a sub-regional association, the "The Southern Cone Initiative".

To implement this kind of regional coordination among developing countries is not an easy task. Again, the support from developed countries and international organizations is important to make this a success. The African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (1999) stated "although most countries realise the crucial roles forest play in national development, Africa still lacks a continuous voice and platform that can articulate and promote common ideas, actions, and directions for SFM". To promote political commitment at regional level could play an effective role on sustainable forest management, promoting collaboration among countries.

2.3 Political commitment at national level

The key element for C&I application and implementation of IPF/IFF proposals for action is political commitment at national level. Political commitment at international and regional levels can play a key role in promoting SFM only if a solid commitment at national level, both in developed and developing countries, is reached. Otherwise, all the international discussion on sustainable forest management and its implementation will continue just as a discussion.

National level commitment is certainly the most important, because it is at this level where governments, private companies, forest owners, indigenous people, NGOs and other stakeholders are key players and where the whole society can express its concerns and contributes to advance towards sustainable forest management.

The lack of political commitment of national political authorities and other interested parties is one of the main reasons to explain the meagre advances on the implementation of proposals for action and the use of C&I as tools for assessing and reporting on SFM. There is also the case that high level policy makers, even though able to visualize the importance of SFM, do not consider it a priority in comparison to much more urgent necessities. As a result, no support is given to the institutions responsible to implement the necessary actions. Sall (1994) explains, " The fact is that in a period of general recession and scarce overall resources, the developing nations are obliged to implement `survival' policies (for example, concerning public health and education) while at the same time seeking to safeguard and exploit natural resources; this necessitates difficult choices". "It remains a stark reality for many African countries that they cannot embrace strategies of Agenda 21 with their current debt burdens. Alleviation of debt burdens remains the dominant preoccupation of African policy makers." (Sub-Committee of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission, 1999).

This reality indicates that in many cases the problem is not a mere lack of commitment, but the necessity to devote the always-scarce resources to more urgent demands. The importance of conservation and management of forests can be well recognized from the economic, environmental and social points of view, but has to be postponed in front of more immediate problems, which are, in many cases, affecting directly the lives of people on a day to day basis. This reality defers the problem of forests conservation and sustainable management.

Faced with this reality, international cooperation becomes a key factor to generate the necessary national commitment. It is to address this problem regarding raising the level of priority for SFM that the UNFF has considered two ministerial sessions as part of its deliberations.

2.4 Political commitment at sub-national level

Some countries have developed indicators to report at sub-national levels. This need is based on specific circumstances, such as the size of the country, the political structure or the ecological diversity. Among the countries that participate in the Montreal Process there are some examples: Australia, Canada, China and the United States. Developing sub-national indicators poses special challenges in terms of political commitment, because of the necessity of establishing common views at different political levels. Development of subnational indicators requires wide participation of educational institutions, industry, indigenous groups and governments, at their different levels, environmental organizations and the interest groups. The involvement of all these groups is a way to generate commitment.

Commitment at sub-national level does not necessarily imply development of sub-national C&I. The concept of sub-national level could vary from an entire state in a continental sized country to a forest property, in a small country. This commitment, at lower level can be as important as the national level commitment. It may be important for the collection of accurate data on the national indicators and for broadening the support for both C&I and SFM.

A good example is given by ITTO. Field-testing of C&I found that in many of the countries tested, the commitment to C&I was higher at the forest management unit level than at the national level. This was because forest management unit (FMU) managers found that "a major motivator for many countries/forest managers in collecting C&I related data was the desire to eventually seek certification of their timber products". (Johnson, ITTO, 2001)


There is no doubt that political commitment has to be strengthened at different levels. Many countries have made considerable advances in the application of C&I through the application of guidelines for SFM, new legislation, institutional strengthening and reallocation of resources within involved institutions, but additional efforts are necessary. In many other countries the actions in this direction have been scarce. (Verolme et al, 2000) There has not been real support to the institutions responsible to propose and implement the necessary changes in forest policies, to forest research institutions and not even a common language with different stakeholders has been agreed on.

3.1 Promoting political commitment at international level

In the preceding sections the importance of political commitment at the international level to advance towards sustainable forest management was discussed, stating that there is a clear necessity to strengthen it, as agreed at UNFF.

The ECOSOC resolution that creates UNFF recognizes this necessity and provides general orientations. One of the objectives of the forum is: "Strengthen political commitment to the management, conservation and sustainable development of all type of forests through: ministerial engagement; developing ways to liaise with governing bodies of international and regional organizations, institutions and instruments; and the promotion of action oriented dialogue and policy formulation related to forests".

There is no doubt that UNFF, through its ministerial segment, should be one of the main promoters of political commitment at the international level. The organizations that form the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) have also to play a fundamental role in this process, not only at international but also at regional and national levels.

The expert group gathered at the "Eight-Country Initiative" held in Bonn in November 2000, recommended that "political commitment will be developed through fulfilling the functions of UNFF, by working closely with CPF and, most importantly, by improving enabling conditions for SFM at country level."

At this meeting several ideas to strengthen political commitment were proposed: "identifying `smart partnerships' between developed and developing countries to undertake joint implementation of projects or collaborating in the implementation of national forest programmes, thereby enhancing developing countries' capacities to make political commitments to SFM." Programmes aimed at enhancing the awareness of political decision makers, specially in developing countries were proposed, as well as a network to promote and enhance ministerial involvement in the UNFF for regular exchanges of views and experiences, resulting in greater political interaction among ministers and more coordination among governments and all existing instruments related to forests. (Eight-Country Initiative, 2000).

A stronger involvement of forest ministers at UNFF deliberations should be an efficient way to promote political commitment at all levels, considering a well-structured agenda, focusing discussions on a few selected items. It is also important to ensure more participation, of both government ministers and civil society, especially from developing countries. A Ministerial meeting with an open agenda will not be as effective as a more structured, action oriented dialog.

The coordination among the different C&I processes, creating a world network, could be an important way to strengthen political commitment. Such a network could also help to produce the necessary feed-back from the operative level to the conceptual level. Certain difficulties have been encountered in assessing and reporting on some indicators, in particular those on socio-economic functions, biological diversity and carbon. (Yokohama Meeting, 2001). ITTO found that three-quarters of the 32 participating countries had difficulty to obtain data on 40-50 % of the indicators. (Johnson, 2001). This situation has led some to suggest that a review may be necessary, to look for alternative ways to assess them or postpone their consideration until countries obtain more information. Some countries have reviewed C&I. As a result, some indicators have been combined to make them more comprehensive, and some have been left out. In Finland, the revised list of C&I contains 47 indicators, whereas the original had 160. (Suoheimo, 2001). Other countries and organizations consider that, if the original C&I concept is to be kept, the elimination or even the combination of indicators is not appropriate. Even if countries cannot report on an indicator, it should not be removed, because the issue that originated that indicator is still present, and sooner or later has to be addressed.

Another important element to generating political commitment is the adequate coordination among international organizations and cooperation programs by countries. "To be effective, their contribution must be consolidated, coordinated and sustained". "If foreign funding is sought, it is desirable that the outside partners take over the commitments unmet by the previous donors." (Sall, 1994). Continuity among cooperation programs may have a great impact in creating national capacities, necessary to continue the processes after the end of cooperation programs. The lack of local capacity to continue the programs started by international cooperation has been identified as one of the main problems of such programs.

In relation to international assistance, Poore and Thang (2000), point out: "The fact that ITTO project assistance is in a form of a grant, not a loan, and that it is managed by the national implementing agency has given the Organization a higher level of acceptance by producers than most other agencies. It also means that more nationals of the recipient country are involved in project management and this automatically builds up experience and strengthens human resource development".

The most controversial proposal to strengthen political commitment at international and national levels is an agreement on a legally binding instrument. According to the countries that support this instrument it would be the most effective way to generate political commitment to effective action towards SFM. Other countries and groups remain sceptical or strongly oppose to the idea that a forest convention will be the answer to generate political will, and as a consequence, the worldwide implementation of SFM.

3.2 Promoting political commitment at national level

Regardless the advance made towards sustainable forest management, strengthening political commitment is important in all countries. In developed countries, according to an evaluation made by a group of NGOs, (Verolme et al., 2000) there is still lack of commitment to assign greater priority to SFM. It is also mentioned that countries have not implemented new programs, in order to specifically fulfil these international agreements, nor have established appropriate ways for stakeholder participation on decisions related to forest policies and their implementation.

In those countries where the application of C&I or other initiatives oriented to promote SFM is still incipient, the process to reach an appropriate level of political commitment can be long and difficult, trying to involve not only the actors related to forest and forest related activities, but also other relevant actors involved in other sectors, that are affecting the existence or quality of forests. Energy, agriculture, water, mining and education are all relevant sectors from the SFM point of view. Consequently, encouraging political commitment at national level will require both short and long-term actions.

a. Spreading the concepts related to SFM and C&I

Recognizing the importance of SFM and C&I as the most important tools for monitoring and reporting at different levels, is the starting point to create the necessary political commitment at national level. Especially in developing countries, those in charge of forest policies and others, which in some way are affecting the existence or quality of the forests, not always have the proper knowledge of the concepts involved in SFM, and even less, on C&I. These concepts are only known, and in many cases generically known, by the people working in forest related institutions, other organizations related to the forest sector and related NGOs. Even though this situation is evolving positively, this reality imposes on the national and international forest community an important task, which is to transmit these concepts to political and administrative authorities in charge of forest resources and related areas, and the community as a whole.

b. Involvement of stakeholders in policy decisions

The involvement of different interest groups in the decisions on policy and legislation related to the conservation and sustainable management of forests is one of the most effective ways to create a permanent political commitment. It is important that not only policy makers be aware of the relevance of SFM, but the whole society. To produce this change, it is essential to generate a multi-stakeholder dialog process, managed in an independent way, outside the conventional institutions, in order to ensure effective participation and unbiased results (Hurtubia J., personal communication 2002). In many cases, the designed mechanisms create a lot of expectations among participants, which are not finally reflected in the policies or in the actions taken in relation to forest conservation and management. An open and effective involvement of interested parties ensures long-term policies and commitment at different levels. It is also crucial to involve relevant actors from other sectors that in some way affect forest and forest management, such as agriculture, energy, water and mining.

"Although recognition of the national importance of sustainable forest management is now widespread in government and in a small sector of the population, it is necessary to disseminate the message much more widely, especially among the concessionaires, the timber industry, forest workers and the farming and other communities living in and near the forest. They must become convinced that sustainable management of the forest is in their own best interest and, wherever practicable, be involved in the process". (Poor and Thang, 2000) They also mention: "The much greater degree of consultation with local communities is having some effect in gaining local support for sustainable forest management and reducing encroachment and damage."

Different interested actors can establish their own ways to promote C&I. Private corporations can include this issue in their management, planning and field-testing. C&I application will certainly help companies' organization. Universities should include all the concepts generated at the international forest fora in their curricula, postgraduate and continuing education programs.

In many countries NGOs have been effective in promoting SFM and in educating the general public on the importance of the conservation of forest ecosystems. They also have assumed an active role in the international policy process. Unfortunately, in some cases, NGOs have other interests, weakening their position as SFM promoters.

Also, as a long-term strategy, it is important to include SFM concepts in the curricula of colleges and universities, not only in forestry but also in other related careers. Training programs on the application of C&I have demonstrated to be an effective way to produce stakeholders' involvement.

c. National Forest Programs

National Forest Programs (NFP) or other equivalent processes have been identified as relevant instruments to promote SFM (Eight-Country Initiative: Synthesis Report, 2000). Development and implementation of NFP offer a good opportunity to involve different actors and interested groups, from policy makers to the general community, and to grant the forest sector the required projection to ensure a real and long-term political commitment, beyond the temporary framework given by certain government policies or period. This is a key factor for forest policy implementation.

In this respect, Bourke and Wijewardana (2002) state: "the evidence tends to suggest that government-influenced national processes can play an active, important, and often critical role in the development of rules, the infrastructure, and priorities. They also are important for ensuring commitment from essential participants - namely those most directly involved in the management of the forest resource - the owners and operators of forests."

A frequent problem, especially in less developed countries, is the fragmentation of forest related responsibilities in different government institutions, making difficult the generation of political commitment and sound forest policies and reducing negotiating capacity at political levels, due to the different and often opposed interests among institutions. National forest programs can be the instruments to strengthen and coordinate forest related institutions.

d. International cooperation

The international community and organizations must play a relevant role in strengthening political commitment at national level, particularly in less developed countries. Donor countries and organizations have to make a real effort to create local capacities, since it has been recognized that one of the failures of cooperation is not to create them. Regarding this issue, the participants of the workshop organized by IFAG, in Finland, 1999, recommended: "donor countries need to be prepared to adjust their procedures".

In relation to international cooperation and its impact on local commitment to sustainable forest management, it is necessary to focus on two fundamental aspects: creation of local capacities, what is a difficult achievement with the predominant modalities, and the coordination among countries and donor organizations, in order to establish long-term programs, that may have the necessary continuity, regardless the source of the funding.

Appropriate coordination between international cooperation and local governments and authorities, which is not always present, may constitute an important support for enhancing the necessary long-term political commitment to advance towards SFM.

e. SFM, Criteria and Indicators and Certification

While none of the formal national forest programs or the application of C&I for SFM are directly linked to certification, they are an essential basis on which many certification processes rest. Setting up an appropriate relationship among SFM, C&I and certification can produce a greater commitment to forest and forest management by different actors and interest groups. "ITTO's C&I training and field testing showed that a major motivator for many countries/forest managers in collecting C&I related data was the desire to eventually seek certification of their timber products" (Johnson, 2001).

Reviewing indicators at the national level, within the framework of an international process, can be an important mechanism to create national commitment, as far as the process is open and participatory.

Developing indicators applicable at the forest management unit (FMU) can be an important way to involve forest managers, industry and other organizations, since the national indicators are adjusted to better serve the need for their practical application. They can also see the relationship with certification standards. In this way, all these elements start fitting on the general concept of SFM.

f. Establishing demonstration areas for SFM

The establishment of demonstration areas, where the concept of sustainable forest management and the application of C&I are clearly demonstrated on the ground, can be an important instrument to generate interest at national level and to generate support for the application of C&I at different levels. These areas can be a good educational instrument for demonstrating application of C&I and can be used both at national and international levels and as an excellent training ground. They can also provide a very well defined framework for international cooperation. A well-managed area can convince many more people, especially policy makers, than hundreds of well-written pages.

g. Adding value to sustainable forest management and promoting private involvement

In many countries the forest sector has a marginal role in the national economy, and generates the perception that sustainable forest management has low profitability. To demonstrate that SFM is economically viable is a key factor to generate political commitment. Any effort oriented to obtain new products or services from the forest, which could increase the incomes and profitability of sustainable forest management is important, since it can help to attract more investment in the forest sector, both public and private, increasing the chance that management will become sustainable. This is why it is important to measure the value of non- timber products and services.

Adding value to the forests is not a short-term process. Depending on the forest, forest quality and the general conditions of the country the process can take 10, 20 or more years. In less developed countries, in order to fill this gap, there is an urgent need for external support for this transition period.

Involving the private sector as an active element in sustainable forest management is fundamental to consolidate political commitment, and an effective tool for development. In some cases, C&I are seen by private owners and forest managers as a way to complicate life, because they do not respond to forest management needs (Grayson, 2002). To change this kind of view, bringing the private sector to this effort is absolutely necessary, to attract resources to the forestry sector. It is a reality that most developing countries do not have the resources to promote SFM, so they must create the necessary conditions to attract private investment, through clear and stable regulations, that ensure long-term investment, a key factor for sustainable forest business.

Macro-economic and general policies as well as sectoral barriers to private investment are still preventing the full mobilization of private resources in many countries.


More than 150 countries, that account for almost all the forests of the world are participating in at least one Criteria and Indicator process. Some countries have not engaged with these processes, but even considering that they do not have large forest areas, they can be important, from the biological diversity point of view. It would be important to find out why these countries have not joined these processes and try to integrate them.2 But in any case, "the vision to use C&I as a tool to help a country move toward the goal of sustainable forest management must come first from within the country itself". (Hendricks, 2002, personal communication).

What is also important is to find a way to strengthen the relationship among countries at regional level as described in Chapter 2.2.

This kind of regional associations should be promoted. At the Eight-Country Initiative Meeting, held in Bonn in 2000, the establishment of regional or sub-regional ministerial meetings was proposed, within the framework of UNFF, concentrating on much more common bases in terms of ecosystems, political and economic conditions. These regional meetings can be more effective, in terms of enhancing political commitment and would help to better define the problems that should constitute the agenda of global ministerial meetings, both at UNFF or COFO, besides establishing regional cooperation and collaboration.


Although the implementation of sustainable forest management, through the application of different tools agreed at the international level has been slow, it is important to highlight the advances towards SFM that have been achieved since 1990, when the development of C&I was initiated. Besides the international processes to develop C&I, several international institutions have developed guidelines for sustainable management of forests.

Most countries participating in C&I processes and these other initiatives have had some advancement towards sustainable forest management. The degree of these advancements has been variable, depending on country conditions, especially in relation to technical capacities and resource availability. Developed countries have made important progress on the application of C&I as tools for monitoring and reporting on sustainable forest management. On the other hand, most developing countries have experienced little advance on the application of agreements oriented towards promoting SFM, including C&I.

The main reasons given for this slow process are the lack of political commitment at international, regional and national levels and the scarce resource availability. It is also stated that, in many cases, the importance of SFM is clearly visualized by political leaders, but they have to postpone any actions in view of more immediate and striking necessities.

Different international organizations have made relevant contributions to sustainable forest management, supporting countries by transfer of technology and economic resources.

In order to increase political commitment especially in those countries where progress towards SFM has been slow or nil, it is necessary to consider actions at different levels.

5.1 International level

a. A well-focused forest dialog

At the international level, it is certainly necessary to maintain a well-focused dialog on forests at the highest level. Important issues are still unresolved and dialog will certainly help to create political commitment and the required actions to advance in the implementation of SFM and application of C&I especially in less developed countries.

b. International cooperation and collaboration

Enhancing international cooperation is a key issue for SFM. The exchange of information and experiences, the increase of financial resources and the transfer of environmentally sound technologies are crucial elements to create local capacities, allowing developing countries and countries with economies in transition to integrate to these processes. Coordination among cooperating institutions and organizations as well as donor countries seems to be one of the key factors to improve cooperation in forestry, especially in creating local capacities.

c. Coordination among different C&I processes

Comparability and compatibility of indicators used by the various regional processes are important, in particular considering the similarities among the criteria used by most of them. "The MCPFE is committed to enhance comparability of the different sets of C&I world-wide and also to engage efforts with other regional processes and organizations to further elaborate inter alia common definitions of key terms and concepts" (MCPFE, 2001b). In the Montreal Process it is stated that "While the important issue of harmonisation and comparability among processes is one that has not yet been addressed in detail by the Montreal Process, it is a question that requires further consideration. Any move towards harmonisation would have to be approached with caution in order to maintain the values of the respective schemes" (MPLO, 2001).

These kinds of activities to improve comparability and compatibility could help to reinforce the international political commitment, a key factor to move towards SFM.

The creation of an informal network among C&I processes should be considered, helping to create an improved communication and coordination. There have been real benefits to past communications between processes, especially the Montreal and the Helsinki Process. To establish a more permanent link among these and other processes may be a way to continue to keep the pressure to advance on C&I adoption and implementation. It is proposed that this network be agreed upon at the CICI-2003 as an outcome of the meeting (Coulombe, M. 2002, personal communication).

It has also been proposed to agree on a global set of C&I, but this idea has a lot of detractors.

d. A legally binding instrument

Many countries consider that an agreement on a legally binding instrument would be the most effective way to ensure political commitment at the international and national level, for the implementation of the proposals for action and the application of C&I. On the other side, other countries and groups remain sceptical or opposing to this proposal.

Continuing the discussion on a legally binding instrument will depend on the effectiveness of the UNFF in relation to the implementation of the IPF/IFF proposals for action. Unfortunately, the last UNFF meeting demonstrated that there is a lot of mistrust among countries and the necessary international political commitment to move forward is still weak.

5.2 National level

a. National forest programs

National forest programs can be an effective mechanism to generate the necessary political commitment and to solve problems related to forest administration institutions, which seems to be one of the main problems to advance towards SFM in many countries. National forest programs can also constitute a well-structured framework to facilitate international cooperation, to attract private sector investment in to the forestry sector and to enhance participation of civil society in forest planning and decision-making. In this regard, countries should create the necessary long-term legal and macroeconomic conditions to favour private involvement into the forestry sector.

b. Enhancing interest groups' participation

In order to generate an effective and long-term political commitment to favour sustainable forest management and the application of C&I, countries should promote multi-stakeholder dialog processes, allowing different interest groups to get involved in policy decisions, legislation and monitoring and reporting, generating common views on the future of forest conservation and management. Furthermore, ample dissemination of the key concepts of SFM is necessary, at different education levels.

It is not sufficient to involve foresters and forest related institutions and organizations in the processes oriented towards SFM. Involvement of other related sectors, such as agriculture, energy, water and mining, is very important to create political commitment at national level.

c. Reviewing C&I at national and international levels

The application of C&I is difficult, even for the most developed countries. There is much evidence that a large number of indicators can not be monitored, creating a negative political environment at national and subnational levels, making it more difficult to gain the necessary political support. This situation has generated the opinion that some review is necessary, in order to focus on those indicators that best measure sustainability and best reflect changes in forest ecosystems. This review would produce more support at national level, particularly at the forest manager level, considering that the indicators would be better linked to practical application in forestry. However, there is currently no agreement on this review.


1. Bourke I.J. and D. Wijewardana, 1999. National-Level Programmes and Certification. Forest Certification/Verification Workshop. Hosted by the World Bank/WWF Alliance for Forest Conservation & Sustainable Use. Washington D.C. November 9-10, 1999.

2. Braatz, Susan, 2001. Use of Criteria and Indicators for Monitoring Assessment and Reporting on Progress toward Sustainable Forest Management in the United Nations Forum on Forest. Report prepared for the International Expert Meeting on Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting on Progress toward Sustainable Forest Management. Yokohama, Japan, 5-8 November 2001.

3. Eight-Country Initiative: Shaping the Programme of Work for the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF). Report of the Expert Consultation. 27 November - 1 December 2000. Bonn, Germany.

4. FAO, 1999. Instrumentos internacionales para apoyar el desarrollo forestal sostenible- cuestiones y opciones. Reunión Ministerial sobre Actividades Forestales. Cuestiones de Sostenibilidad en el Sector Forestal, Desafíos Nacionales e Internacionales. Roma, 8-9 de marzo de 1999.

5. FAO, 1999a. Status and Progress in the Implementation of the National Forest Programmes. Outcome of a FAO World-wide Survey. Rome, June 1999.

6. FAO, 2001. Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management: A Compendium. Compiled by Froylán Castañeda, Christel Palmberg-Lerche and Petteri Vournen. Forest Management Working Papers, Working Paper 5, Forest Resources Development Service, Forest Resources Division, FAO, Rome.

7. FAO, 2001a. Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000. Main Report. Forest Paper 140. FAO, Rome

8. Glück, P.; Tarasofsky, R.; Byron, N.; Tikkanen, I. 1997. Options for Strengthening the International Legal Regime for Forests. EFI; European Commission; IUCN; CIFOR

9. Grayson, Arnold. 2002. Bureaucrats' Dreamworld - Managers' Nightmare? That's C&I. Forestry and British Timber. March, 2002.

10. IFAG, 1999. IFAG Workshop on Sector Support to National Forest Programmes, 25-28 August 1999. Finland. Report.

11. Johnson, Steven E. 2001. ITTO's Criteria and Indicators. A tool for Monitoring, Assessing and Reporting on SFM. International Expert Meeting on Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting on Progress toward Sustainable Forest Management. Yokohama, Japan, 5-8 November 2001.

12. Mayer, Peter. 2002 The MCPFE - a pan-European Forest policy perspective. Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forest in Europe.

13. MCPFE, 2000. Ten Years of Commitment to European Forests. Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe.

14. MCPFE, 2001a. Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting on Sustainable Forest Management. MCPFE Experience in Brief. International Expert Meeting on Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting on Progress Toward Sustainable Forest Management. Yokohama, Japan, 5-8 November 2001.

15. MCPFE, 2001b. Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management of the MCPFE. Review of Development and Current Status. International Expert Meeting on Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting on Progress Toward Sustainable Forest Management. Yokohama, Japan, 5-8 November 2001.

16. Montreal Process. Examples of Mechanisms for the Development, Identification, and Implementation of Subnational Indicators of Sustainable Forest Management That Can Be Linked to National Level Indicators.

17. MPLO, 2001. Montreal Process Liaison Office. Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. "Capacity Building for 2003 Report". International Expert Meeting on Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting on Progress Toward Sustainable Forest Management. Yokohama, Japan, 5-8 November 2001.

18. Pinchot Institute for Conservation. 2002 Crosswalk 1: Linkages Between the IPF/IFF Proposals for Action and the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators. Version 1.0. Washington D.C. USA.

19. Pinchot Institute for Conservation. 2002 Crosswalk 2: Linkages between Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators and the IPF/IFF Proposals for Action and the. Version 1.0. Washington D.C. USA.

20. Poore, D. and Thang, H.C. 2000. Review the Progress towards the Year 2000 Objective. International Tropical Timber Council. Twenty-Eighth session. 24-30 May 2000, Lima, Peru. November 2000.

21. Sall, N.P., 1994. Forestry research support in developing countries: the need for commitment and continuity. Unasylva Nº 177. From:

22. Simula, M. 1999. Featured Background Paper and Discussion: Independent Certification/Verification of Forest Management. Forest Certification/Verification Workshop. Hosted by the World Bank/WWF Alliance for Forest Conservation & Sustainable Use. November 9-10, 1999.

23. Sub-Committee of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission. 1999. Facing to the challenges of sustainable forest management: African perspective. Briefing paper for the African delegations to the 14th session of COFO and the Ministerial Conference on Forestry, Rome, 1999. Accra, February 1999.

24. Suoheimo, Jouni. 2001. Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management in Finland. International Expert Meeting on Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting on Progress Toward Sustainable Forest Management. Yokohama, Japan, 5-8 November 2001.

25. UNFF, 2001. Report on the organizational and first session. (12 and 16 February and 11-12 June 2001) Economic and Social Council. Official Records, 2001. Supplement Nº22.

26. UNFF, 2002. Supervisión, evaluación y presentación de informes, incluidos conceptos, terminología y definiciones. Informe del Secretario General. Consejo Económico y Social E/CN.188/2002/8.

27. Verolme, J.; Mankin, W.; Ozinga, S. and Rayder S. 2000. Keeping the Promise? A Review by NGOs and IPOs of the Implementation of the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Forests `Proposals for Action' in Select Countries.

28. Wijewardana, Don. 1997. Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. ITTO Newsletter.

29. Wijewardana, Caswell and Palmberg-Lerche. 1997. Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. Key Note Paper. XI World Forestry Congress, Antalya, Turkey.

30. WWF International, 2002. African Leaders Take Action to Protect Forests.

31. Yokohama Meeting, 2001. Highlights of the Meeting. Expert Meeting on Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting on Progress Toward Sustainable Forest Management. Yokohama, Japan, 5-8 November 2001.

1 Senior Advisor, Instituto Forestal; Huerfanos 554, Santiago, Chile; Tel: 562-6930720; Fax: 562-6381286;

2 There is no available information about the reasons countries have not to be involved in these processes.

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page