Canadian Forest Service Publications

Development of integrated ecological standards of sustainable forest management at an operational scale. 2000. Kneeshaw, D.D.; Leduc, A.; Drapeau, P.; Gauthier, S.; Paré, D.; Carignan, R.; Bouthillier, L.; Messier, C. The Forestry Chronicle 76(3): 481-493.

Year: 2000

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 20470

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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Within Canada, and internationally, an increasing demand that forests be managed to maintain all resources has led to the developement of criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management. There is, however, a lack of understanding, at an operational scale, how to evaluate and compare forest management activities to ensure the sustainability of all resources. For example, nationally, many of the existing indicators are too broad to be used directly at a local scale of forest management; provincially, regulations are often too prescriptive and rigid to allow for adaptive management; and forest certification programs, often based largely on public or stakeholder opinion instead of scientific understanding, may be too local in nature to permit a comparison of operations across a biome. At an operational scale indicators must be relevant to forest activities and ecologically integrated. In order to aid decision-makers in the adaptive management necessary for sustainable forest management, two types of indicators are identified; those that are prescriptive to aid in planning forest management and those that are evaluative to be used in monitoring and suggesting improvements. An integrated approach to developing standards based on an ecosystem management paradigm is outlined for the boreal forest where the variability inherents in natural systems is used to define the limits within which forest management is ecologically sustainable. Sustainability tresholds are thus defined by ecosystem response after natural disturbances. For this exercice, standards are proposed for biodiversity, forest productivity via regeneration, soil conservation and aquatic resources. For each of these standards, planning indicators are developed for managing forest conditions while forest values are evaluated by environmental indicators, thus leading to a continuous cycle of improvement. Approaches to developing critical thresholds and corresponding prescriptions are also outlined. In all cases, the scale of evaluation is clearly related to the landscape (or FMU) level while the stand level is used for measurement purposes. In this view the forest should be managed as a whole even though forest interventions are usually undertaken at the stand level.