International Organization for Standardization

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) was founded in 1947 as an international federation of national standards bodies. Its mission is to standardize goods and services traded in international commerce. Its activities span the fields of intellectual property rights, scientific and technological developments and economics. The organization's technical deliberations have resulted in more than 8 500 ISO standards to date.

In the late 1980s, many forest industry companies subscribed to the ISO 9000 series regarding product quality standards. Following UNCED in 1992, ISO decided to develop a new series of standards, 14000, regarding environmental management tools and systems to measure a company's practices. A year later, it created a technical committee, TC 207, to develop the 14000 series standards, which was awarded to the Standards Council of Canada (SCC). The SCC, in turn, delegated management of the ISO/TC 207 to the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

The Canadian forest products industry, led by the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association (CPPA), gave the CSA the mandate to develop standards and guidelines for sustainable forest management. Two documents are currently being elaborated, one on the requirements for a sustainable forest management system and guidelines for its implementation, and another on the procedures for independent auditors to audit and determine compliance to a sustainable forest management system. The CSA's sustainable forest management standards are to be national in scope while allowing for regional variations in economic and social dependence on the forest resource base as well as for the particular needs of different forest types. The CSA aspires to have the sustainable forest management documents endorsed by ISO/TC 207, and to become the basis for an internationally accepted standard under which certification could be issued.

Sources: Abusow (1995); CSA (1994).