Unit 4 - Sustainable Forest Management (SFM)

Lesson 4: Measuring Progress Towards SFM

Canada was one of the first countries in the world to devise a method of tracking its progress towards Sustainable Forest Management. This system, devised by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, is based on six criteria and 46 indicators that collectively reflect the overall health of Canada's forests.

Sustainable Forest Management involves many forest values: environmental, economic, social, and cultural. The six criteria, listed below, represent forest values that Canadians want to enhance or sustain:

  • Biological Diversity
  • Ecosystem and Productivity
  • Soil and Water
  • Role in Global Ecological Cycles
  • Economic and Social Benefits
  • Society's Responsibility

Canadian Council of Forest Ministers

There has been a long tradition of cooperation between the federal and provincial/territorial governments in forestry matters. In 1985, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers was formed. This council is composed of fourteen federal, provincial, and territorial ministers (elected officials). Since then, this Council has provided opportunity for the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to work together to address major areas of common interest. In collaboration with the diverse forest sector, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers also devises long-term strategies aimed at achieving sustainable forest management in Canada.

Indicators, on the other hand, are measurements used to assess the state of a given forest value. By studying the indicators over time, we can see where improvements are required. For example, under the criterion "Ecosystem Condition and Productivity," one indicator is "Area of forest disturbed by fire, insects, disease, and timber harvest."
Take a look at the image. What factor is responsible for disturbing the most forest area in Canada?

The amount of certified forest in Canada is also an important indicator of how we are progressing in the area of sustainable forest management. More specifically this indicator helps us to assess the economic and social benefits of our forests. The certification process itself involves an outside organization evaluating and certifying the forest management practices of a given forest industry. When a customer buys a forest product that is certified, they can be assured that the forest product in question is coming from a responsibly managed forest. With approximately one-third of its forests now certified, Canada is home to 42% of the world's certified forests.

If you would like to read more about forest certification in Canada, click here.