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Research Report

The sustainability of forest management: Assessing the impact of CIFOR’s Criteria and Indicators research

Michael J. Spilsbury
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2005
Pages: 138
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 7-9)

    International and popular concern about the wide-scale loss and degradation of forest areas, especially in tropical countries, emerged in the 1980s and, coupled with the Brundtland Commission’s calls for ‘Sustainable Development’, resulted in forest issues receiving considerable attention at the 1992 Rio ‘Earth Summit’ (the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, UNCED). The emergence of C&I was an integral part of these developments in the global forest agenda. In follow-up action from Tropical Forest Action Plan (TFAP) initiatives of the 1980s, the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) developed ‘Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests’ in 1990,...

  2. (pp. 10-19)

    The underlying purpose of the CIFOR C&I research was to contribute to the development and evaluation of technologies to determine whether forests are being managed on a sustainable basis at the individual Forest Management Unit (FMU) level and to link the work to relevant initiatives at the national and regional levels, e.g., the Helsinki Process for European forests and the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) requirements.

    At the time of project inception, there were no accepted and tested practical methods for this, especially methods that accommodated development and evaluation of social and biodiversity indicators. Social and biodiversity-related C&I were aspects...

  3. (pp. 20-51)

    In general terms, the impact of research is more readily appraised in situations where new science-based innovations are clearly defined and where their adoption directly affects patterns of production, consumption and /or human welfare. Nevertheless, impact from science may also be achieved indirectly, for example through influencing policies, decision-making processes, management assessment processes or development assistance interventions. Where new technologies are developed for use ‘on the ground’ directly by land mangers (farmers/forest managers), the magnitude of the impact is often dependent on the number of adopters of a particular research innovation and the land areas over which the research innovation...

  4. (pp. 52-84)

    Standards applied by certification bodies lead directly to ‘on-the ground’ changes in the management of forests through audit processes. This section addresses whether it is possible and practical to make field-based comparisons of ‘with/without’ certification situations. Does certification improve forest management? If so, what improvements result? Do changes in the management performance of certified forests show any correspondence with the acknowledged CIFOR research contributions to certification bodies’ standards?

    Comparing the wide range of ‘sustainability attributes’ in forests is extremely challenging. Sheil et al. (2004) raise a large number of methodological challenges in interpreting field-based comparisons of forests using Criteria and...

  5. (pp. 85-99)

    This section provides further documented examples of uptake from the CIFOR C&I research, including uptake by key policy audiences and influence on international and national forest C&I-related processes and initiatives. This is not intended to be an analysis of research impact but does attempt to ‘trace’ the wider use and influence of the research along a variety of ‘impact pathways’ in addition to the specific Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification impact pathways discussed above. The collated evidence is intended to highlight the broad strategic relevance and international public goods nature of the CIFOR C&I research through documented examples of research...

  6. (pp. 100-107)

    The CIFOR Criteria and Indicators (C&I) research responded to an international demand for science to help clarify the assessment of sustainable forest management through development and improvement of C&I. C&I help define standards for sustainable forest management and are now being used by many different groups. Governments are using C&I to help them regulate the practices of forest users and report on the status of their forests to international processes and fora. Forest certifiers depend on C&I to assess whether companies are managing their forests in a sustainable manner. Forest management companies themselves often use C&I to improve the quality...