Criteria and Indicators of Sustainable Forest Management

Brundtland Report1 (Our Common Future) -” Sustainability is the development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”

Sustainability is a long-term goal while sustainable development is the process or pathway to achieve sustainability. Likewise, Sustainable forest management is the process of managing forests according to the principles of sustainable development to achieve the UN SDGs. Simply, SFM is the tool, concept, or process of managing forests in order to fulfill the increasing demands of people at present in such a way that the forest will ensure the same benefits, health and productivity in the future.

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Dimensions of Sustainability

With increasing population and shrinking forest resources, a management approach is needed to reform. From the strict forest protection to the Community managed forest approach Nepal’s forest has led through a number of management practices.

Among these approaches, Community based forestry has been considered a promising tool for strengthening sustainable forest management through meaningful participation of local people.

SFM is a modern forest management approach for Nepal even incorporated in policies envisioning Sustainable and participatory management of forest resources and equitable benefit sharing.

As a self-monitoring tool Criteria and indicators (C&I) are developed by various Organizations to define, guide, monitor & assess progress towards SFM in a given context.

Criteria specify the fundamental components used to measure sustainability while Indicators are parameters that can be measured that relate to specific criteria.

Hence, C&I serves as a standard tool to help nations track, evaluate, and report on changes in forest conditions and advancements toward SFM at various levels.

Major C&I for SFM developed:

  • Montreal Process criteria and indicators (MP C&I)
  • European criteria and indicators (pan-European C&I)
  • The ITTO Manual on criteria and indicators (ITTO C&I)

ITTO pioneered the development of criteria and indicators (C&I) for sustainable forest management in the 1990s assessing the condition of tropical forests and identifying weaknesses in forest practices and the improvements needed. C&I developed by ITTO is used worldwide as a guide to measuring the progress towards sustainability.

ITTO C&I specifies 7 criteria as essential elements of SFM

1Enabling conditions for SFM1.1 Policies, laws, and regulations for governing forests
1.2 Forest tenure and ownership
1.3 Forest governance
1.4 Institutions responsible for, and supportive of, forest management
1.5 Availability of professional and technical personnel to perform and support forest management
1.6 Integration of forests in national and subnational land-use planning
1.7 Capacity and mechanisms for management planning and the periodic monitoring of implementation
1.8 Long-term projections, strategies, and plans for production of PFE and protection of PFE
1.9 Stakeholder participation in land-use and forest management planning, monitoring, and assessment
1.10 National, subnational and international public and private funding committed to SFM
1.11 Incentives to encourage SFM
2Extent & condition of forests2.1 Extent and percentage of total land area under comprehensive land-use plans
2.2 Extent of forests committed to production and protection
2.3 Extent and percentage of total land area under each forest type
2.4 Multiyear forest management plans in FMUs
2.5 Forest area in compliance schemes
2.6 Change in a forested area
2.7 Forest condition
2.8 Forest carbon stock
3Forest ecosystem health & resilience3.1 Threats to forests caused directly by human activities
3.2 Vulnerability of forests to natural disturbances
3.3 Forest resilience and climate change adaptation
3.4 Degraded forests and landscapes restored
3.5 Area of formerly degraded forest or forest land restored
4Forest production4.1 Natural production forest inventories, by product
4.2 Actual and allowable harvest of wood and non-wood products in natural forests
4.3 Actual harvest of wood and non-wood products in planted forests
4.4 Forest carbon stock
4.5 Timber harvesting arrangements in natural production forests
4.6 Forest product tracking systems or similar control mechanisms
4.7 Historical records on the extent, nature, and management of forests
4.8 Reduced impact harvesting and silvicultural operations
4.9 Silvicultural management in planted forests
4.10 Strategic monitoring of silvicultural systems in natural and planted forests
5Forest biological diversity5.1 Forest extent in protected areas
5.2 Buffer zone management and connectivity of protected forest areas
5.3 Threatened forest-dependent species
5.4 Procedures for conserving tree species diversity in natural tropical forests
5.5 In situ conservation of genetic variation within specified forest tree species
5.6 Biodiversity conservation measures in natural production forests
5.7 Biodiversity conservation in planted forests
6Soil & water protection6.1 Forest area managed primarily for the protection of soil and water
6.2 Protection of downstream catchment values at the landscape level
6.3 Soil productivity and water retention capacity in production forests
6.4 Area of production PFE is considered environmentally sensitive and protected
6.5 Forest engineering for soil and water protection
7Economic, social & cultural aspects7.1 Contribution of the forest sector to gross domestic product
7.2 Value of domestically produced forest products and environmental services
7.3 Wood and non-wood forest product processing capacities and efficiency
7.4 Capacity building of the workforce in forest management and forest industry
7.5 Procedures to ensure the health and safety of forest workers
7.6 Mechanisms for the equitable sharing of the costs and benefits of forest management
7.7 Mechanisms for resolving disputes between forest stakeholders
7.8 Local livelihoods and forest management
7.9 Forests reserved for specific cultural, research, or educational purposes
7.10 Tenure and user rights of indigenous peoples and local communities over publicly owned forests
7.11 Involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities in forest management
7.12 Recognition and value of forest-management knowledge and skills of local people

“The ultimate aim of criteria and indicators is to promote improved forest management practices over time, and to further development of a healthier and more productive forest estate, taking into consideration the social, economic, environmental, cultural, and spiritual needs of the full range of stakeholders.”


Hi, Im chetana khadka from Bardiya. Having always been in close proximity to Nature I have so much enthusiasm to learn and explore my career in Forestry. As a Forestry undergraduate, I realized that even a tiny creature in nature has immense importance in the ecosystem. Really everything is connected to everything and there's nothing like waste in nature. So value yourself, you are also a immense part of nature and leave your conservation footprint before you vanish in it.

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