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Presented at the
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


Ewald Rametsteiner 1

The establishment of the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE) was a significant act of political leadership in Europe. Initiated because of the cross-national threat of forest dieback the establishment of this pan-European forest policy platform was subsequently successful in outlining European forest policy goals in relation to sustainable management of forests (SFM). This political process was also able to mobilise resources for the implementation of political commitments across Europe, despite all the seemingly high barriers of different situations, interests and cultures between countries and interest groups.

The commonly agreed commitments of governments have been one of the greatest political driving forces for forest related issues in Europe. This high political commitment is re-iterated periodically through ministerial conferences, held in 1990, 1993 and 1998 in the past. The next Ministerial Conference which will again highlight the most pressing forest related issues will be held quite soon - at the Living Forest Summit in Vienna, 28-30 April 2003.

The adoption of a common definition of SFM in Europe in 1993 was an important decision by the ministers, strongly influenced by the spirit of the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. Based on this pan-European definition a set of pan-European Criteria and Indicators (C&I) for SFM was elaborated, implemented, evaluated and most recently revised.

SFM, a politically set goal, has to reflect a wide range of interests on forests, and so do C&Is. During the elaboration of C&Is the involvement of key interest groups proved essential. Individual interests alone, including governments, are not sufficient for establishing broad political commitment for C&Is. However, recognising the diverse interests on forests and integrating them in the development and use of C&I needs commitment and trust.

To gain political commitment by different interest groups in Europe it proved useful that C&I for SFM are non-binding, and an evolving concept. The voluntary nature of the elaboration process and a participatory approach, as the MCPFE process as a whole, also strengthened political commitment. It also promotes a shared ownership of the outcome by the groups involved. After five years of developing the pan-European C&I the Ministerial Conference in 1998 adopted the pan-European Criteria. The ministers at the same time endorsed the related indicators and established the concept of continuous improvement. This high-level commitment ensures wide visibility and signals the importance of the concept, thus making it easier to get resources allocated to the implementation of the commitment.

Now, again five years later the MCPFE has just completed a first improvement of the pan-European indicators for SFM, scheduled to be endorsed by the European ministers responsible for forests at the Living Forest Summit in Vienna, Austria, in April 2003. This improvement was based on the experiences made by countries in implementing the concept of C&I at the national level. It was conducted through a series of workshops involving a wide range of stakeholder groups in addition to the European governments.

Political commitment and concrete steps for the development of C&I have to be followed up by further implementation and actual use of C&I. The more benefits of C&Is are visible for the users in their respective fields the more they will be willing to participate in their implementation and the more they will use them. Political commitment can thus be strengthened by showing these benefits. In Europe benefits of the use of C&I are well visible.

One important effect in Europe is the common understanding of SFM as a multi-dimensional concept, with all the benefits that such a shared view entails. Policy makers were able to develop more coherent policies across a wide range of issues, based on a comprehensive framework. It also facilitated and facilitates the development of sound, long-term policies for the forestry sector.

One other direct benefit is the increasingly streamlined data compilation from different data collection bodies, on international and national levels, and increasingly easier reporting through common conceptual frameworks. In Europe a fruitful collaboration on forest resources assessment and reporting has been established between the UNECE/FAO and the MCPFE, using C&Is as reference framework. In business C&I provide internationally compatible references for forest certification standards, a prerequisite for international recognition of certificates.

But it has also to be stated that the development of C&Is for SFM is time and money consuming. It has taken years for the MCPFE to develop and review the pan-European criteria and indicators for SFM. However, this work is seen as one of the most important achievements of this forest policy process, and a cornerstone for European forest policies for years to come. The MCPFE has shown strong commitment to develop and use C&Is for SFM in the past. It will also do so in the future.




Presented at the
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


Emmanuel Siisi-Wilson2


This case study illustrates the role and the implementation experiences of the African Timber Organisation (ATO), as a regional intergovernmental organisation, in fostering political commitment, through the use of criteria and indicators as a tool for sustainable forest management, in her current 14 member countries.

The broader regional picture, concerns forests which are geographically located in the following countries-Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, Sao Tomé & Principe, Tanzania and Togo.

While the total natural forests that can be found in Africa is reported to be in the range of 649,866,000ha, the natural forests of the 14 ATO countries sums up to 369,452,000ha. These 14 ATO member countries can more or less be collectively described as being custodians of over 50 percent of the natural tropical forests found in Africa, with their management systems as varied and complex as the number of countries that own these resources. The countries also vary in relation to their history and practice of forest management which cannot easily be separated from the broader development picture involving the use and the dependency of their people on the forests as a means for rural development and poverty alleviation.


The ATO, created in1976, has a functionally established Conference of Ministers of Forests; one of such Ministers is elected to chair the conference as well as the coordination of the work programmes of the ATO on a bi-annual basis. This forum also provides the required political direction and commitment, and endorses the decisions of the Conference for implementation in the ATO member countries.

From this politically established intergovernmental framework of African nations, the ATO has facilitated and promoted on her own or through the collaboration with other development partners, various initiatives aimed at ensuring the sustainable management of forests of her member countries, including the development of Principle, Criteria and Indicators (PC&I).


Out of a total of eight main International processes on C&I for the sustainable management of forests, four of them involve countries on the African continent and these initiatives cover mostly humid tropical or dry forests. Apart from the ATO Process, some of her member countries can be found in two other C&I Process, namely the ITTO initiative, of which the nine countries are also ATO members, and the Dry-Zone African Process involving 29 countries and including two of the ATO members. Of the seven other African countries in the Near-East Process as coordinated through FAO/UNEP expert meeting, none of them is a member of ATO.

Following the first ever field test of criteria and indicators to be undertaken in the humid tropical forests of Africa in Côte d'Ivoire in 1995, the ATO sought collaboration with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). From the results of this test and its discussions which centred on five identified general forest principles and nearly 1,100 criteria, an expert working group meeting identified 5 Principles, 2 Sub-principles, 28 Criteria and 60 Indicators. The 17th ATO Ordinary Ministerial Conference, held in Angola in May 1996, endorsed this as the ATO Principles, Criteria and Indicators (PC&I), for the management of the forest of the ATO member countries and urged that the initiative should be improved on. Further collaboration between ATO and CIFOR, using the latter's methodology in field testing, to derive a series of sets of PC&I at the forest management unit (FMU) level, through a project financed by the European Union and other bilaterally funded projects between 1996 and 2000. The analysis of the tests and their results in the various countries were as follows:

Additionally, in most of the ATO member countries where these field tests were undertaken, the resultant PC&I, were used as a basis for the development of national specific criteria for the monitoring of forest policy and more importantly, in the case of three countries (Cameroon, Gabon and Ghana), it has served as the basis for the development national standard, for forest assessment and management auditing leading to certification, using National Working Groups as facilitators. The pilot field test results obtained in the various countries provided new information to necessitate the review of the ATO PC&I.


While anticipating such a revision under the European Commission sponsored project, it was also recognised that within the context of politically facilitating the use of criteria and indicator as tools for forest management, an ATO and ITTO partnership was very relevant and necessary within the African regional context. On the strength of the 9 common country members between the two organisations and the advantages envisaged, a process of collaboration to enhance the realisation of the potentials of C&I and its application in African forests was initiated.

Under an International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC) Decision 4 (XXIX), of November 2000, cooperation between the two initiatives was firmed to enable the ITTO, finance an activity to study and produce a harmonized set of ATO-ITTO Principles, Criteria & Indicators for the sustainable management of African Natural Tropical forests. This collaboration included the application of this tool in a framework of a multi-phased project.

As a concurrent activity, the revision exercise considered the field test results, obtained from her member countries over the period from 1996- 2000, and also undertook the harmonization, of the ATO PC&I with the ITTO C&I for the management of African natural tropical forests. The document was published at the end of the project in August 2001 and was adopted as the `Kinshasa Declaration on PC&I' for the management of African natural tropical forests, by the 20th ATO Ordinary Ministerial Conference which was held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, in October 2002.

This currently revised and harmonised set of the ATO-ITTO PC&I as endorsed by the ATO Ministers of Forests in Kinshasa, consists of a total of:

To facilitate the use of this harmonized set of PC&I, the document has been translated into the four (4), official working languages of the ATO (i.e. French, English, Spanish and Portuguese). Additionally, the text of the document can be found on the following website address: or www.adie-prgie médiathèque/documentation/gestion

The other important outcome of this ITTC decision was the facilitation of the use and application of the harmonised PC&I as a tool for forest management in Africa, through the development of a multi-phased implementation project. This multi-phased project which has a goal to promote and also ensure the application of the refined initiatives on PC&I of the two organisations, was approved for implementation by the ITTC in May 2002.

Some of the important features and characteristics of this ITTO-ATO approved Project PD 124/01 Rev.2 (M), are:

i. It is based on a needs assessment study, hence the project is multi-phased to adapt to the varying stages of sustainable forest management practices and levels of application in the respective member countries;

ii. It aims at developing a credible forest assessment methodology, to eventually support forest certification activities in the member countries;

iii. It provides an effective consultative forum for all stakeholder groups with interest in forest management;

iv. It will promote awareness creation, knowledge sharing and skills development among decision-makers and stakeholders, through various National Working Group establishment and arrangements;

v. It aims at establishing a pool of regionally trained trainers in forest management auditing and the continuation of the pilot field testing of the harmonized PC&I in the remaining counties, as a means for training;

vi. Its core objective relates to Capacity Building, with reference to human resources; institutional strengthening of ATO as a regional intergovernmental organisation as well as other associated national agencies to facilitate the use of the harmonized PC&I; and the development of the enabling conditions for knowledge transfer.

There are three (3) phases to this project of a total of 72 months duration:

Phase 1 (has two implementation stages of 18 months duration each);

Phase 2 (has 12 months duration);

Phase 3 (has 24 months duration).

The financial contributions by both ATO and ITTO to enable the implementation of this multi- phased project is as follows:





















Although the project is scheduled to commence soon, the medium to long-term implementation status of this project is likely to be constrained as funding has only been secured by the ITTO, to cover STAGE 1 of PHASE 1 of this project.


Indeed as evinced over the years, despite the expressed political commitment, willingness and the good intentions, a major setback to the promotion of tools for sustainable forest management has been the lack of resources, which principally translates into the non-availability, lack of readiness and the non- timely financing of the management activities, relating to a common property asset such as the forest.

This situation is exemplified in the fact that within the 14 member countries, only five countries have benefited from any of the pilot field tests of the PC&I; also only three countries seem to have in place a form of National Working Group that provides the forum for the participation of all stakeholder to appreciate and facilitate use the PC&I as tools for forest management. Additionally, there is a need to rationalize forest management operations through the development of performance- based standards in all the countries.

These needs are very well addressed in the various activities of the ATO- ITTO PC&I partnership framework's multi-phased project. Hence, there is the need for all well- meaning development partners to complement and be part of these expressed intentions and to financially support the implementation of the multi- phased project framework as highlighted.


1. FAO (2001), Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000. FAO Forestry Paper 140, Rome.

2. FAO (2000), Development of National-level Criteria and Indicators for the Sustainable Management of Dry Forests of Asia: Background Papers, Bhopal, India (30 Nov.-3 Dec 1999), Asia- Pacific Forestry Commission-Edited by Tan Lay Cheng and Patrick B. Durst.

3. ATO (2001), Les Deux Ensembles de Principles, Criteria et Indicateurs (PCI) de l'Organisation Africaine du Bois (OAB)- à utiliser aux niveaux national et de l'unité forestière d'aménagement (UFA), Commission Européenne Projet B7-6201/97-06/VIII/FOR.

4. ITTO Project Proposal (2001), Promotion of Sustainable Management of African Forests- PD 124/01 Rev. 2 (M), Economic Information and Market Intelligence Committee, ITTO.





Presented at the
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


Sergio Sánchez Ballivián4


From the early 1990s there has been growing concern by the international community to reach a common understanding on the sustainability of forests. This concern is based on international statistical data that reflect a continuous growing tendency in the deforestation and degradation processes of the world's forests.

After the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (UNCED), the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) was established by the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) for two years (1995-97). IPF was to provide a forum for international debate on forestry issues. In 1997, ECOSOC established the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) for a period of three years (1997-2000) in order to continue working on the recommendations of IPF. In 2000, the conclusions and recommendations from IPF and IFF were taken into account by the United Nations and ECOSOC, and were the basis on which the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) was created. One of the main duties of the latter is:

"To monitor and evaluate progress of the forests at national, regional and global levels, through reports from governments as well as from organizations, institutions and other regional and international instances, and, on the basis of such information, consider future actions".

In its first meeting (June 2001), UNFF established "the importance of the use of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, both national and regional, as the basis for reporting".

Today it is widely accepted that criteria and indicators are only one of several tools that help identify tendencies in the forestry sector, determine periodic effects of forest management, facilitate the decision-making process and improve forest policies at national level.

The concept of progress towards the sustainability of the Amazonian forest is a future goal that needs to be reached in successive stages, though at the end it could be difficult to ensure that sustainability had been achieved. Sustainability has three main components: economic, social and environmental.

Finally, environmental sustainability depends on the evolution of the forest which may create favourable conditions for better development of its ecological functions somewhat similar to a primary forest without intervention.

Aware of the need to clearly and objectively define the status and evolution of the Amazonian forest, the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (ACT) member countries decided to develop a set of criteria and indicators which could help them reach sustainability. Each criterion is related to an important element of sustainability and is described by one or more indicators. Indicators are instruments to evaluate and follow up the status of the forest, verify changes and trends over time and measure and describe either qualitative or quantitative aspects of each criterion.


Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Surinam and Venezuela signed the ACT in June 1978. Through its Pro Tempore Secretariat (PTS), the First Regional Meeting on Criteria and Indicators for the Sustainability of the Amazonian forest was organized and held in Tarapoto, Peru (February 1995).

The Tarapoto meeting concluded with the identification of 12 criteria and 77 indicators grouped in three categories: national, forest management unit and global levels.

According to the results of that meeting and of one resolution of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of ACT, the Tarapoto Proposal was deeply analyzed and discussed in all countries belonging to the treaty. Between 1996 and 2000 this process prompted several consultations: four in Colombia, one in Ecuador, one in Peru, one in Bolivia, four in Venezuela, one in Surinam, one in Guyana and four in Brazil. In this process of consultations 351 institutions and 830 persons participated.

Once the process of national discussions and consultations on the evaluation and application of the Tarapoto criteria and indicators had been completed in all member countries, PTS produced a consulted and/or consolidated document summarizing all country reports. This report was reviewed during the Second Regional Meeting (Tarapoto, June 2001). During this meeting, representatives of each Amazonian country analyzed and discussed the document in order to select and establish priorities among the criteria and indicators contained in the original Tarapoto Proposal (1995), according to their feasibility and consensus. The degree of consensus was a key element considered in order to ensure that such criteria and indicators be adopted in the regional context, i.e. by all the member countries of ACT, hoping that in so doing the dispersion and isolation on this topic in ACT countries would not happen.

Subsequently, 15 indicators corresponding to eight criteria of priority one were identified and selected by participants as highly applicable. It was also decided that these 15 indicators should be the first to be validated. For this validation process, a regional project was designed and established. Furthermore, 18 indicators corresponding to nine criteria of priority two were also selected. These indicators will be validated in a future phase of this process.

In addition, there is a set of four indicators corresponding to three criteria that can be used in a future validation process since they were considered as "applicable" or "highly applicable" but that no consensus was reached by the majority of the participants. These could be discussed in future regional meetings.

Among the conclusions of Tarapoto II, the following are considered more important:

SPT of ACT designed this regional project which was then approved by the VII Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the signatory countries of the Treaty held in Santa Cruz de la Sierra Bolivia (November 22, 2002).

The project describes a methodology to appraise the 15 priority indicators, selected in Tarapoto II, in a pilot area identified and selected in each member country of ACT. It is expected that eventually the 15 indicators will be agreed on and validated, and which will not.

The validated indicators will be used by all the member countries of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (TCAO) as a tool to monitor the evolution and changes in the Amazonian forest in each country. If implemented properly, countries will be able to assess the sustainability of their forest management activities and also define national and regional policies which promote the sustainable use of the forest.


Political authorities of ACT are the Amazon Cooperation Council and the Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the signatory countries. Through their decisions and resolutions adopted in previous years, it is possible to identify the type of political support provided by member countries to the development and implementation process of the criteria and indicators for sustainable management of the Amazonian forest.

In addition, it is also necessary to mention the institutional evolution in the Treaty. From August 2002, and after the last instrument was ratified, TCAO was formally established as TCAO. This is a regional organization with an international legal status, formed by the same eight signatory members of ACT. This organization will start operations in Brasilia (Brazil) in February 2003; the Permanent Secretariat acts as its operational unit.

By means of this organization, ACT member countries try to improve and strengthen the inter-institutional process of cooperation developed by the Treaty and to make more effective and permanent its actions as a regional group. In this manner it is expected that the consolidation of the objectives of member countries will be achieved and eventually reach the ultimate goal which is harmonious development and that all joint actions would promote fair and mutually advantageous results in favour of environmental preservation and the adequate use of natural resources to improve the quality of life of society.

The principal support instruments to the process of identifying, selecting, prioritizing, validating and applying the criteria and indicators for the sustainability of the Amazonian forest are:

_ The Tarapoto Proposal, adopted in the 1st Regional Meeting held in Tarapoto Peru (23- 25 February 1995). In this meeting a set of 12 criteria and 77 indicators to evaluate the sustainability of the Amazonian forest were identified. They were grouped in three categories.

_ The Special Commission for the Amazon Environment (SCARE) in its IV meeting (April 1995; Lima, Peru) approved the results of the regional meeting of the Tarapoto Proposal. This commission encouraged PTS to organize national workshops to analyze and evaluate the proposal in order to make it operational and to reach a regional consensus.

_ The V Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the signatory countries of ACT was held in December 1995 in Lima, Peru. On that occasion, resolution No. RES/V MRE-TCA/6 was accepted. The resolution instructed members "to encourage the adoption of a regional instrument as criteria and indicator for the sustainability of the Amazonian forest through technical national meetings in order to allow continuity of the Tarapoto Process, once the national debates were concluded".

_ In the same meeting, the Lima Declaration was approved; it stated:

To underscore the progress achieved within the frame of the Treaty through the development of the proposal on criteria and indicators for the sustainability of the Amazonian forest, prepared at the Regional Workshop organized by PTS in Tarapoto, Peru (February 1995) and which represents a valuable contribution to the consulted design of regional strategies.

To promote the adoption of a regional document about criteria and indicators for the sustainability of the Amazonian forest, through technical meetings which will ensure the continuity of the Tarapoto Process once national consultations have been finalized.

_ The Council for Amazonian Cooperation (CCA) in its IX meeting (October 1998; Caracas, Venezuela) issued a resolution which:

Underscores the progress obtained in the national consultation processes in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.

Encourages other countries that have not yet completed their respective national consultation process to continue working towards that goal.

Recommends the PTS to organize the Second Regional Workshop on Criteria and Indicators for the Sustainability of Amazonian Forest to be held in Tarapoto, Peru, when all the national consultation processes have been finalized.

_ The VI Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (April 2000; Caracas, Venezuela) of the signatory countries of the ACT issued a declaration related to forests that stated:

"The member countries express their desire to see the Tarapoto Process, initiated back in 1995, fulfil its objectives in order to adopt the criteria and indicators for the sustainability of the Amazonian forest once all national consultations have taken place and the celebration of the II Regional Meeting to endorse those criteria and indicators has likewise been held."

· The VII Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the signatory countries of the ACT (November 2002; Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia) issued the Santa Cruz Declaration through which member countries stated that they:

Express their support for the Tarapoto Process as a useful mechanism and technical instrument which allows the sustainable use of the Amazonian forest by generating an evaluation and consultation mechanism, among member countries, on the applicability of criteria and indicators as these take into consideration the characteristics of each country of the region in an effort to harmonize forestry and environmental policies and to enhance the sustainability of forest management activities.

The same meeting issued Resolution No. RES/VII MRE-TCA/6 that instructs member countries to:

1 Policy Advisor, Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe; Tel.: +43 1 710 77 02 16; Fax: +43 1 710 77 02 13; e-mail:

2 Technical Director; Forest Management Certification; African Timber Organization (ATO); BP 1077; Libreville; République du Gabon ; Tel: 241-73-2928; Fax: 241-73-4030.;

3 The process was initially called the "Tarapoto Proposal".

4 Ambassador and Secretary of Amazonian Cooperation Treaty Organization (TCAO); Tarapoto Process; Av. Splanada dos Ministerios, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores del Brasil; Brasilia - Brasil; Teléfono 0055-61-4116601, 4116662, 4116647, 4116108; Fax: 0055-61-4116044; e-mails:;

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