Conference on the Contribution of Criteria and Indicators
for Sustainable Forest Management: The Way Forward
Guatemala City, Guatemala
3 - 7 February 2003
Objective 4: Contribution of criteria and indicators to the work of UNFF and to international initiatives on indicators related to sustainable development
Chairperson: Dr Ingwald Gschwandtl
Director of Forest Policy and Information
Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Austria
Rapporteur: Ms Tiina Vahanen, FAO
The discussions held and the conclusions and recommendations produced by this Working Group are based on (1) the background discussion paper introduced in plenary by Dr Ewald Rametsteiner (Austria) and Mr Don Wijewardana (New Zealand) entitled "Key issues in the future development of international initiatives on forest related criteria and indicators for sustainable development".
1. There is a need to strengthen collaboration and coordination among the criteria and indicator processes, and between the forest and other sectors and international initiatives dealing with indicators.
2. Participants welcomed the establishment of the Task Force of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) on Streamlining Forest-related Reporting and its work towards harmonizing and reducing reporting, including facilitating easy access to national forest-related information through a web-based portal.
3. Participants noted that criteria and indicators have been acknowledged in the development of the Global Forest Resources Assessment (GFRA) coordinated by FAO. Information generated by the GFRA will facilitate the use of criteria and indicators in other national and international fora, including UNFF and multi-lateral environmental agreements.
4. National forest assessments, including national forest inventories, constitute a basic source of information on indicators for use at the national level. There is a potential to further develop national forest assessments to better respond to the needs expressed by national criteria and indicator processes.
5. Participants discussed the potential benefits of a common set of criteria, as outlined in the background documentation and which are based on existing sets of criteria elaborated by regional and international criteria and indicator processes, to facilitate the sharing of information on sustainable forest management.
6. Participants acknowledged the following thematic areas of sustainable forest management common to all regional and international criteria and indicator processes:
1. Extent of forest resources5
2. Biological diversity
3. Forest health and vitality
4. Productive functions of forest resources
5. Protective functions of forest resources
6. Socio-economic functions
Legal, policy and institutional framework
1. Countries should support the use of common thematic areas based on existing sets of criteria elaborated by regional and international criteria and indicator processes in the overall reporting framework of GFRA, ensuring that specific national or regional aspects are incorporated in the assessment process.
2. Countries, with the support of, e.g., FAO, should continue to develop cost-effective and policy relevant national forest assessments, based on criteria and indicators.
3. The CPF Task Force should take into account existing work on criteria and indicators in its streamlining efforts, make specific recommendations to governing bodies of respective CPF members, and invite representatives of criteria and indicator processes to participate in the work of the Task Force. In this context, the Task Force should also promote the use of forest criteria and indicators in other processes dealing with indicators.
4. Countries and processes should make use of existing mechanisms and fora, such as Regional Forestry Commissions, the CPF Task Force, existing expert groups, and others, to enhance collaboration and coordination among the criteria and indicator processes, including to fostering capacity building.
5. FAO and ITTO should convene an international expert consultation, including representatives of the criteria and indicator processes, member countries and international organizations and processes, to consider and make recommendations, including to UNFF, regarding:
• feasibility and modalities of a communication network among processes, countries and other relevant partners to provide a mechanism for exchange of information;
• improving common understanding of concepts, terms and definitions related to criteria and indicators;
• identifying common approaches, methods and protocols for collecting data;
• ways to strengthen criteria and indicator processes;
• merits of forming an ad hoc international technical advisory group to consider technical issues related to criteria and indicators.
6. Countries, as appropriate, should consider using criteria and indicators as a tool to report on progress towards sustainable forest management to the UNFF. Those criteria and indicator processes that already prepare reports, or plan to do so, are invited to submit their reports to UNFF.
7. The FAO Committee on Forestry should reaffirm implementation of criteria and indicators as a programme priority. This should include technical assistance and capacity building, including through the National Forest Programme Facility, to implement criteria and indicators, in particular in developing countries with specific needs and requirements.
5 MCPFE, Montreal Process and ATO include carbon cycle in this criterion.