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The 7 Essential Criteria of Sustainable Forest Management-Part 2

Join us in this Part 2 of Nature’s Packaging, “The 7 Essential Criteria of Forest Management”, where we finish describing the essential criteria and explain their importance in sustainable forest management.

Criterion 5: Maintenance of Forests Contribution to Global Carbon Cycles

Forests form one of the largest renewable soil carbon reservoirs, and they play a significant role in global carbon cycles. The carbon stocks are captured or processed in the dead and decaying matter, wood products, above and below the ground biomass, and soil. The impacts of climate change affect the structure and distribution of forests, their health, temperature, and even contribute to forest fires that can delete carbon capture and storage altogether.

While the forest management efforts can also alter the carbon cycle, sound management activities that enhance the carbon capture capacity in forests can positively impact carbon dioxide levels. Biomass in the forests can replace emissive fossil fuels, diminishing greenhouse gases.

Unlike any other criterion, the maintenance of forests’ contribution to global cycles embodies the direct link between the environment and the global economy. Carbon cycles result from fossil fuel burning, which are significant energy sources in the activity of the modern economy. Therefore, the capacity of forests to isolate carbon from the atmosphere will be a critical factor in global warming and the ability of the global economy to adjust to wider and more damaging environmental conditions and their associated costs.

This criterion uses three indicators that focus on the total carbon pools in forests, forest product carbon pools, and the amount of fossil fuel emissions avoided through forest biomass.

Criterion 6: Maintenance and Enhancement of Long-Term Multiple Socioeconomic Benefits to Meet the Needs of Societies

Forests provide a range of products for the benefit of society (pallets move the world!). These products serve the needs of different communities, and some of them are solely dependent on the goods and services for their livelihood. As a result, the global statistics on the production and use of forest products, employment opportunities provided in the forest sector, and investment illustrate some of the benefits and the needs for maintenance and enhancement.

Notably, the first five criteria are centered on the sustainability aspect of forests at the expense of the economic aspect. This criterion is the only one with an economic focus and thus has over 20 indicators, more than any other criterion. Due to their large number, the indicators are grouped into investments, employment, and culture.

The employment category capitalizes on the ability of forests to provide work and wages, while the investment category focuses on the attention of the society to forest maintenance. The cultural category is concerned with the most social of the socioeconomic indicators.

Criterion 7: Legal, Institutional, and Economic Framework for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Management

The 7th criterion is concerned with a country’s overall institutional, legal, economic, and policy environment. It outlines the context for working groups to consider the preceding six criteria. The considerations or indicators here relate to the institutional capacity, legislation and policy measures at all levels, economic arrangements, and creating a conducive environment for sustainable forest management.

The criterion is associated with some inherent challenges, and thus the member countries have adopted different approaches to suit their specific societal and cultural needs. The complications arise from the variety of sources to make it difficult to capture relevant and meaningful quantifiable data and information to form the proper baselines from a global perspective. Working groups involved in the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators are resolved to revamp the criterion’s indicators to 10 and simplify the language to solve the inherent challenges.


The Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators are a beginning step in providing tools for collecting and reporting data necessary for conserving and maintaining sustainable forest ecosystems. These tools are designed and applied to depict the necessary components of sustainable forest management and provide working groups with a framework that describes the condition and value of those ecosystems.

They present a set of non-legally binding principles for the 12 member countries that are essential players in forest management and the global pursuit of the larger sustainable development goals. They are, however, collaborative and internationally agreed-upon criteria specifically meant to serve as a response to the urgent need to address sustainable forest management as part of a larger solution that addresses climate change and the socio-economic impacts on countries, industries, and people.

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