An international conference will be staged to assess the contribution that criteria and indicators have made to sustainable forest management and to decide the next steps that should be taken.
This was one outcome of an expert consultation co-sponsored by ITTO and hosted by the FAO Forestry Department in Rome on 15-17 November. Experts representing all the processes under way to develop criteria and indicators met to review the progress made since the first major international seminar was held in Finland in 1996.
Criteria and indicators are tools for assessing trends in forest condition and forest management. Implicitly, they define sustainable forest management, conceptually and on the ground, and provide a framework for describing, monitoring and evaluating progress towards the sustainable forest management goal. ITTO pioneered their development with its ground-breaking 'Criteria for the measurement of tropical forest management', published in 1992, and the follow-up 'Criteria and indicators for the sustainable management of natural tropical forests', published in 1998. The Organization is now developing an ambitious program of training workshops in all three tropical regions to help bring the criteria and indicators to ground level.
Participants at the Rome consultation agreed on the importance of criteria and indicators in monitoring trends in forest management and in promoting sustainable forest management. They noted, however, that there has been variable progress in implementing criteria and indicators at the operational level.
The proposed international conference would be staged in late 2001 or early 2002, if possible in a developing country, with the theme 'The contribution of criteria and indicators to sustainable forest management - the way forward'.
ITTO will cooperate with FAO and other sponsors to organise the conference. It is timed to provide input to the second substantive session of the newly formed United Nations Forum on Forests (likely to be held in mid 2002) on the potential of criteria and indicators to assist that body carry out its mandate to monitor and assess forest management globally.