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Criteria & Indicators of Sustainability

close up picture of a moth The 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janiero, or “Earth Summit,” produced a Statement of Forest Principles and a plan of action for the 21st century, Agenda 21, which called upon the international community to ensure the sustainable development and management of all types of forests. In response, the Montréal Process, an ad hoc committee, was formed in 1994 to develop Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests. Member countries represent about 90 percent of the world’s temperate and boreal forest in both northern and southern hemispheres.

The Santiago Declaration, signed in 1995 by member countries, formally presents the results of the Montréal Process. The Criteria and Indicators are intended to provide a common understanding of what is meant by sustainable forest management and a means for evaluating a country’s progress in meeting this goal.

A criterion represents a category of conditions or processes by which sustainable forest management may be assessed. It is accompanied by a set of related indicators that can be monitored periodically to assess change. The Strategic Forest Lands Assessment has been used to assist with the development of indicators which address the following seven criteria of the Santiago Declaration:

Criterion 1: Conservation of biological diversity
Criterion 2: Maintenance of productive capacity of forest ecosystems
Criterion 3: Maintenance of forest ecosystem health and vitality
Criterion 4: Conservation and maintenance of soil and water resources
Criterion 5: Maintenance of forest contribution to global carbon cycles
Criterion 6: Maintenance and enhancement of long-term multiple socioeconomic benefits to meet the needs of societies
Criterion 7: Legal, institutional, and economic framework for forest conservation and sustainable management