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This working document has been prepared as a focus for future work on the development of an International Framework for the Evaluation of Sustainable Land Management (FESLM).

The Framework is designed as a structured, logical pathway for making decisions on whether or not a carefully defined form of land management is likely to prove sustainable in a defined situation over a defined period of time. The logical pathway approach was selected because our knowledge of sustainability will always be imperfect. This approach assists us in making decisions that can be substantiated without having to wait for all the final data.

The development of the Framework and the preparation of this document have been guided by an international working group for this purpose. Membership in this working group is: J. Dumanski (Agriculture Canada), Chairman; M. Latham (IBSRAM), Secretary; C. S. Ofori (FAO); R. Hanson (TROPSOILS), H. Eswaran (USDA-SCS), P.K. Thornton (IFDC); and A.J. Smyth (Private). This working group has been ably assisted from time to time by J. K. Syers, E. Pushparajah, M. Mausbach and R.L. Sawyer. This document represents the collective wisdom from this entire group.

This document makes no attempt to review the rapidly expanding range of literature on sustainability but is based on four seminal documents and on discussions in Working Groups organised by the International Board for Soil Research and Management (IBSRAM) at Chiang Rai, Thailand in 1991; Nairobi, Kenya in 1992; in Washington DC, USA in 1992; and in Lethbridge, Canada in 1993. The documents that have shaped the current form of the FESLM are:

• Public Advisory Committees to the Environmental Council of Alberta. Alberta Conservation Strategy: Framework for Action: A Draft for Public Discussion. Edmonton. 1990.

• Dumanski, J., Eswaran, H. and Latham, M. Criteria for an International Framework for Evaluating Sustainable Land Management. International Workshop on Evaluation for Sustainable Development in the Developing World. Chiang Rai, Thailand. IBSRAM Proceedings 12, Vol. 2, Bangkok. 1991.

• Dumanski, J., Eswaran, H., Pushparajah, E. and Smyth, A. (eds.). Evaluation for Sustainable Land Managements in the Developing World. Vol. 1: Towards the Development of an International Framework. IBSRAM Proceedings 12, Vol. 1. Bangkok, Thailand. 1991.

• Dumanski, J. and Smyth, A. The Issues and Challenges of Sustainable Land Management. International Workshop on Sustainable Land Management for the 21st. Century, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. 1993.

The document that follows, prepared and revised by A. J. Smyth and J. Dumanski at the request of FAO, with specific contributions from M. J. Swift (Biological factors), P.K. Thornton (Economic factors) and G. Spendjian (Social factors), draws together the ideas expressed in these sources with some additional connecting material and very valuable constructive comments received orally and in writing at and between the various meetings of the Working Group. All these contributions, too numerous to list, are most gratefully acknowledged.

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