Main uses of C&I for sustainable forest management

C&I for SFM and/or forest related sustainability indicator sets are used as a framework for:

  1. Policy dialogue and planning (policy or strategy development, multi-year plans and action programmes, budget allocation)
  2. Guiding implementation of policies, plans and programmes by administrations (guidance, rules, selection criteria, other)
  3. Guiding and structuring data collection and monitoring on forests, forest management and use or sustainability aspects
  4. Guiding and structuring sector-specific or integrated sustainability assessments and reporting (e.g. environment, energy, climate change, agriculture, sustainable land management)
  5. Guiding forest management practice (e.g. planning, implementation, monitoring, assessing, reporting, investment decisions for natural and planted forests, agroforestry, provision of non-timber forest products and services, etc.)
  6. Developing and applying sustainability certification principles, standards and indicators

Criteria and indicators are applied at different levels, including the global, regional, national and local levels:

Global level use of C&I

At the global level, criteria and indicators help to compile data and information on aspects related to SFM from different national and international bodies and assess and report on these aspects in a consistent way.

The global community has agreed on a range of goals and targets that directly relate to forests and are relevant for C&Is and their further development and use by countries, and in streamlining reporting. This includes the Global Objectives on Forests of the “Forest Instrument”, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, the Aichi Targets as well as the Bonn Challenge 2020. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) comprises specifications for forest-related mitigation and adaptation actions and a range of related monitoring and reporting requirements. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) adopted a 10-year Strategic Plan 2008 to 2018 with several forest-related commitments and indicators. To streamline and harmonize reporting, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) set up a Task Force on Streamlining Forest-related Reporting.

Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA), coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), have been made at approximately five to ten year intervals since FAO was established in 1945. The scope and content of the global assessments has evolved over time to respond to changing information needs, and have taken C&Is as the main reference frameworks for FRA 2005 and FRA 2010. FAO presently works directly with several key C&I processes in the context of the Collaborative Forest Resources Questionnaire (CFRQ) for the Forest Resources Assessment 2015.

Future goals, targets and reporting needs are emerging at national, regional and global levels. For example, at global levels, discussions on the coverage of forest related aspects in the future Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 Development Agenda are on-going while preparatory work for FRA 2020 will start soon after completion of FRA 2015.

Regional level use of C&I

Different regional bodies and processes have set goals, targets and/or reporting mechanisms that use or are relevant for C&Is. For example, ITTO prepares periodic reports on the “Status of Tropical Forest Management” provide link to [], which uses the ITTO C&I as reporting format. Similar periodic reports are issued by FOREST EUROPE on the “State of Europe’s Forests”[ provide link to ]and by the Montreal Process. The Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) adopted, in 2005, a Convergence Plan to improve the preservation and management of the Central Africa forests, with the Central African Forest Observatory (OFAC) issuing a “Report on the State of the Forests” provide link to [], based on a set of indicators. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) adopted a Protocol on Forestry in 2002 with reference to forest assessments, principles, criteria and indicators. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) spearheaded the development of a Convergence Plan for the Sustainable Management and Utilization of Forest Ecosystems in West Africa, adopted in 2013.

Work is on-going in various regions and at different levels to further develop C&I and their use. For example, the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) and ITTO undertake a joint project on “Harmonization of criteria and indicators (C&I) of sustainable forest management” between the C&I of Tarapoto and those of ITTO, and ITTO works closely with countries in the Central African region to further develop and promote the use of C&I for SFM. FOREST EUROPE established an expert group to propose improvements in tools for Sustainable Forest Management, and a stocktaking study on the C&I has been completed in 2013.

National and sub-national level use of C&I

At national and sub-national levels existing information suggests that many countries have taken up and often further developed and adapted C&I for use in policy making, particularly monitoring and reporting on SFM as well as structuring policy dialogue and planning processes. Criteria and indicators for SFM are an efficient framework to help countries collect, store and disseminate reliable and scientifically based information on forests, in order to monitor and assess the state of forests.

Criteria and indicators for SFM are particularly helpful in providing a common framework for policy dialogue at national levels about forests and their use. They are useful in informing policy makers and in communicating with the public. In turn, this information is a means to influence policies and decisions to achieve sustainable forest management.

Local level use of C&I

A range of private sector, market-based or public-private initiatives have promoted goal and target setting related to forests and/or monitoring and reporting of SFM. This includes corporate social responsibility reporting; voluntary SFM certification schemes; forest law enforcement, governance and trade; or extractive industries transparency initiatives.

The local level indicators (forest management units, community forestry land, concession areas and other) depend on local, often site-specific, environmental factors such as forest type and topography, local economic and social considerations and priorities. These indicators may thus differ between individual forest areas in any one country, at any one time, in accordance with prevailing conditions, priorities and objectives of management.

The criteria at forest management unit level are likely to be identical or very similar to those defined at national level, although they are more flexible.

last updated:  Monday, January 26, 2015