Special Issue "Sustainable Forest Management Criteria and Indicators"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Economics, Policy, and Social Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 March 2022) | Viewed by 10219

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Fred Cubbage
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, Resources College of Natural Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
Interests: forest resource policy; timber production and harvesting economics; forest certification; and sustainable forest management
Dr. Kathleen A. McGinley
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Forest Policy and Governance, USDA Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA
Interests: forest governance; forest policy; criteria and indicators; certification; legality verification; tropical forest management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

For nearly three decades, state and non-state actors have developed and used criteria and indicators (C&I) to define, measure, monitor, and report on the sustainability of forests at local to international levels. In these efforts, criteria define the elements against which forest sustainability is assessed, reflecting the environmental, economic, and social values essential for sustainable forest management (SFM). Indicators are the quantitative, qualitative, or descriptive parameters that correspond to a specific criterion and which can be measured and monitored over time. Measurable progress has been made in some countries, regions, and for some forest types in the design and implementation of SFM C&I, while other efforts at local to larger scales never moved beyond the design stage or stalled out in measurement, monitoring, reporting, or uptake.

This Special Issue will present current research on SFM C&I, aiming to understand when, why, and where these efforts generate up-to-date comprehensive information on forest sustainability, become institutionalized, and enable enhanced decision-making on related policy and practices. We invite manuscripts that examine SFM C&I at local to international levels and address a broad range of issues, including: advances and obstacles in forest monitoring and reporting for SFM C&I; SFM C&I data availability and adequacy; shifts in SFM concepts and discourse as a result of C&I processes; local, community, and public participation in C&I development and implementation; decision-making processes supported by SFM C&I; horizontal and vertical links between SFM C&I efforts; and connections between SFM C&I and other sectors or broader sustainability measures or goals; among other related topics and issues.

Prof. Fred Cubbage
Dr. Kathleen A. McGinley
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • criteria and indicators
  • C&I processes
  • sustainable forest management
  • forest certification

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Article
Cross-Boundary Sustainability: Assessment across Forest Ownership Categories in the Conterminous USA Using the Montréal Process Criteria and Indicators Framework
Forests 2022, 13(7), 992; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13070992 - 24 Jun 2022
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Abstract
The conservation and sustainable management of forests across ownership groups of the conterminous USA was assessed using the Montréal Process Criteria and Indicators (C&I) framework using national forest inventory and other data. Sixty-one percent of the forest area in the USA is Privately [...] Read more.
The conservation and sustainable management of forests across ownership groups of the conterminous USA was assessed using the Montréal Process Criteria and Indicators (C&I) framework using national forest inventory and other data. Sixty-one percent of the forest area in the USA is Privately owned (20% Corporate, 39% Family, and 2% Other Private), 37% is Public (28% Federal, 2% Local, and 7% State), and 2% is within Native American Tribal Reservation boundaries. There are many commonalities across ownership categories, but there are also important differences. A 1.1 million ha yr−1 decrease in Family forestland and a 1.0 million ha yr−1 increase in Corporate forestland (C&I 1.1.a) between 2012 and 2019 are among the main trends with implications for sustainability and influence all other aspects considered through the C&I. The majority of annual timber harvests (C&I 2.d) comes from Corporate (46%) and Family (42%) forestlands. Of the most common species, net growth to removal ratios (C&I 2.d) are less than 1.0 for three species on Tribal forestland, two species on Federal forestlands, and two species on Corporate forestlands. Disturbances (C&I 3.a and 3.b) are relatively common (ranging from 4 to 15% of forestland within an ownership category) across ownership categories with the highest proportion of disturbances being caused by diseases and pests on Federal forestland. Differences in the legal and institutional frameworks across ownership categories (Criterion 7) influence how the forest resources can be managed and how policies, programs, and services can be designed and implemented to help maintain and enhance the flow of forest-based goods and services. This analysis helps illustrate that sustainability is complex, C&I are imperfect, and there are additional elements, such as recreational access and ownership/management objectives, that would be helpful for comparing across ownership categories. But the Montréal Process C&I framework helps elucidate the relative threats among ownership categories, in particular the loss of Family forestland to non-forest uses and the increase in disturbances across most ownership categories, and the relative opportunities across ownership categories, including the sustainable supply of timber from Corporate and Family forestlands and the relatively high tree, and presumably broader, biodiversity especially on Local and Other Private forestlands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Forest Management Criteria and Indicators)
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Article
Defining and Measuring Forest Dependence in the United States: Operationalization and Sensitivity Analysis
Forests 2022, 13(4), 577; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13040577 - 06 Apr 2022
Viewed by 606
Abstract
This manuscript helps bridge a gap between theoretical work that advocates for a broad view of forest dependence, and empirical work that has focused narrowly on economic measures. Background: Forest dependence has been widely recognized as a valuable concept for understanding human communities’ [...] Read more.
This manuscript helps bridge a gap between theoretical work that advocates for a broad view of forest dependence, and empirical work that has focused narrowly on economic measures. Background: Forest dependence has been widely recognized as a valuable concept for understanding human communities’ well-being and vulnerability to shocks and changes. Past theoretical literature has highlighted the importance of recognizing various types of dependence—environmental, economic, and social—yet past empirical literature on the topic in the United States has almost exclusively relied on measures of economic dependence such as employment and earnings from the traditional forest products sector. Objective and Methods: As a first step to bridge the gap between the theoretical and empirical, we reviewed the existing, publicly available, reliable, wall-to-wall data sources to identify alternate proxy measures for forest dependence. Data availability made the analysis feasible only at the county level—the administrative subdivisions of the state—or higher. Results and Conclusions: We created environmental, economic, and social criteria based on threshold levels of the following proxy variables: forest area, earnings, employment, and indigenous population. Using these criteria, we identified 524 counties to be potentially forest-dependent of 3140 total counties in the United States. The largest concentration was in the Pacific Northwest and Southeast regions, and a higher proportion were non-metro counties than metro. Varying the threshold levels significantly changes the number of counties identified but does not alter the overall geographic trends. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Forest Management Criteria and Indicators)
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Article
Credence Attributes in the Forestry Sector and the Role of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Factors
Forests 2022, 13(3), 432; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13030432 - 09 Mar 2022
Viewed by 1142
Abstract
Credence or believability are paramount values in trade. The role of products’ credence attributes has been well-analysed in the agricultural and food sector. This study examined the application of credence attributes to forest management and forest products marketing for the first time. We [...] Read more.
Credence or believability are paramount values in trade. The role of products’ credence attributes has been well-analysed in the agricultural and food sector. This study examined the application of credence attributes to forest management and forest products marketing for the first time. We describe specific credence attributes of forest products and highlight their values, benefits, and importance in international trade. We used Delphi interviews of experts and surveyed forest and trade experts to assess the perceived merits of credence attributes in the forestry sector. We also compared certification schemes and sustainable forest management (SFM) indicators against credence values. We found that credence attributes play an important role in the forestry sector for both timber forest products and non-timber forest products (NTFP). While some credence attributes, such as the legality of forest products, already form the basis for trade and certification and are standard practice, other credence attributes are rising in awareness and could potentially create new markets. This study revealed the potential value of health aspects of forest products, particularly regarding NTFP and recreational services. Certification schemes and SFM provide credence at a collective level, and must encompass the rising importance of individual credence attributes of these newer important values. Last, we summarized the emerging environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment practices to assess how credence factors may help affect such investments. Awareness of credence attributes can inform ESG criteria, certification schemes, and sustainable forest management frameworks about present or potentially future market expectations. Sustaining and enhancing natural capital and the flow of ecosystem services they provide, as well as social and human capital, will play an increasingly important role for forestry companies in the next decade. A better understanding of forestry credence attributes can inform the management of ESG of forestry industries and markets more effectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Forest Management Criteria and Indicators)
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Article
The New EU Forest Strategy for 2030: A New Understanding of Sustainable Forest Management?
Forests 2022, 13(2), 245; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13020245 - 05 Feb 2022
Viewed by 2005
Abstract
Two decades after the pan-European set of indicators for sustainable forest management was adopted, the European Commission published the New EU Forest Strategy for 2030. We compared the documents on the basis of a content analysis to determine whether they share the same [...] Read more.
Two decades after the pan-European set of indicators for sustainable forest management was adopted, the European Commission published the New EU Forest Strategy for 2030. We compared the documents on the basis of a content analysis to determine whether they share the same understanding of sustainable forest management. We looked at whether, and to what extent, the existing indicator set is fit for purpose to monitor progress towards the Strategy’s objectives, and the delivery of policy commitments. About two thirds of the identified objectives and commitments in the Strategy can be monitored at least partially by the pan-European set of indicators, whereas new indicators or approaches need to be developed for the remaining third. Several of the indicators are not linked to the Strategy, and some of them are only weakly linked to the policy issues addressed in the Strategy. Our comparison shows a few significant differences between the comprehensive vision of sustainable forest management formulated in the indicator set and the scope of the objectives and commitments in the Strategy. In particular, the forest policy concerns reflected in the Strategy address several issues which are not fully covered in the pan-European indicator set. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Forest Management Criteria and Indicators)
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Article
National Implementation of the Forest Europe Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management
Forests 2022, 13(2), 191; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13020191 - 26 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1559
Abstract
The development of criteria and indicators (C&I) to generate information about the status quo and measure changes in sustainable forest management (SFM) has become ever more important. Forest Europe has developed C&I as a policy instrument to monitor and report about SFM. Forest [...] Read more.
The development of criteria and indicators (C&I) to generate information about the status quo and measure changes in sustainable forest management (SFM) has become ever more important. Forest Europe has developed C&I as a policy instrument to monitor and report about SFM. Forest Europe signatories considered the definition of SFM and related C&I as the most recognized achievements of the process. The results of our survey verify this statement. C&I for SFM are implemented at the national level in half of the Forest Europe signatory countries. C&I have served as a structure and framework for the national derivations. Our results confirm the importance of C&I for monitoring and reporting on the status and trend of forests and forestry in Europe. However, Forest Europe has failed so far to go beyond description toward target-based assessments. This was originally not envisaged for the indicators but is increasingly requested by decision-makers and stakeholders. The future development of indicators for SFM should focus on their appropriateness for the assessment of objectives, goals, or targets, because the ability to monitor the respective national efforts has become a critical tool of international but also national governance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Forest Management Criteria and Indicators)
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Article
A National Multi-Scale Assessment of Regeneration Deficit as an Indicator of Potential Risk of Forest Genetic Variation Loss
Forests 2022, 13(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13010019 - 23 Dec 2021
Viewed by 969
Abstract
Genetic diversity is essential because it provides a basis for adaptation and resilience to environmental stress and change. The fundamental importance of genetic variation is recognized by its inclusion in the Montréal Process sustainability criteria and indicators for temperate and boreal forests. The [...] Read more.
Genetic diversity is essential because it provides a basis for adaptation and resilience to environmental stress and change. The fundamental importance of genetic variation is recognized by its inclusion in the Montréal Process sustainability criteria and indicators for temperate and boreal forests. The indicator that focuses on forest species at risk of losing genetic variation, however, has been difficult to address in a systematic fashion. We combined two broad-scale datasets to inform this indicator for the United States: (1) tree species occurrence data from the national Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) plot network and (2) climatically and edaphically defined provisional seed zones, which are proxies for among-population adaptive variation. Specifically, we calculated the estimated proportion of small trees (seedlings and saplings) relative to all trees for each species and within seed zone sub-populations, with the assumption that insufficient regeneration could lead to the loss of genetic variation. The threshold between sustainable and unsustainable proportions of small trees reflected the expectation of age–class balance at the landscape scale. We found that 46 of 280 U.S. forest tree species (16.4%) may be at risk of losing genetic variation. California and the Southeast encompassed the most at-risk species. Additionally, 39 species were potentially at risk within at least half of the seed zones in which they occurred. Seed zones in California and the Southwest had the highest proportions of tree species that may be at risk. The results could help focus conservation and management activities to prevent the loss of adaptive genetic variation within tree species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Forest Management Criteria and Indicators)
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Article
Iterative Method of Discriminant Analysis to Classify Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) Forest
Forests 2021, 12(8), 1128; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12081128 - 22 Aug 2021
Viewed by 795
Abstract
We present a new method for the classification of beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) forest plots based on discriminant and frequency analysis. This method can be used as a tool to allow experts to stratify beech forests in a simple and precise way. [...] Read more.
We present a new method for the classification of beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) forest plots based on discriminant and frequency analysis. This method can be used as a tool to allow experts to stratify beech forests in a simple and precise way. The method is based on discriminant analysis with cross-validation of 13 variables measured in 142 plots from the 2005 Second National Forest Inventory and 63 plots from an inventory installed in specific locations together with a frequency analysis of the qualifying variables. In the first stage, the method uses the results of a frequency analysis fitted with an iterative discriminant analysis that allows improving the subsequent classifications taking into account the results of the analysis and the correctly- and wrong-classified plots. This method is applied to beech forest in Burgos (Spain) where six structural groups were described. The discriminant functions show that forest structure depends basically on diameter distribution and almost 94% of the plots are correctly classified using this methodology. The high level of correctly assigned plots indicates an accurate classification of structure that can be used to stratify beech forests with only the diameter at breast height measurement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Forest Management Criteria and Indicators)
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Article
The United States’ Implementation of the Montréal Process Indicator of Forest Fragmentation
Forests 2021, 12(6), 727; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12060727 - 03 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1136
Abstract
The United States’ implementation of the Montréal Process indicator of forest fragmentation presents a case study in the development and application of science within a criteria and indicator framework to evaluate forest sustainability. Here, we review the historical evolution and status of the [...] Read more.
The United States’ implementation of the Montréal Process indicator of forest fragmentation presents a case study in the development and application of science within a criteria and indicator framework to evaluate forest sustainability. Here, we review the historical evolution and status of the indicator and summarize the latest empirical results. While forest cover fragmentation is increasing, the rate of increase has slowed since 2006. Most of the fragmentation in the western United States is associated with changes in semi-natural land cover (e.g., shrub and grass) while most of the eastern fragmentation is associated with changes in agriculture and developed (including roads) land covers. Research conducted pursuant to indicator implementation exemplifies the role of a criteria and indicator framework in identifying policy-relevant questions and then focusing research on those questions, and subsequent indicator reporting exemplifies the value of a common language and developed set of metrics to help bridge the gaps between science and policy at national and international scales. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Forest Management Criteria and Indicators)
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