Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) entails the management of forests to maintain their full range of environmental, social and economic values.
The concept of SFM has a long and evolving history in Australia. As our understanding of forest ecology has increased and community attitudes have changed, management practices have also changed to meet sustainable timber yields and maintain and protect other forest values.
Australia’s framework for SFM
Australia has a comprehensive framework designed to achieve the conservation and sustainable management of its forests. This framework includes:
- A national policy framework – Australia’s
1992 National Forest Policy Statement (NFPS) promotes the conservation and sustainable management of forests.
Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) – 20 year agreements underpinning regional approaches to balance conservation and production from native forests.
- Australia's Sustainable Forest Management Framework of Criteria and Indicators 2008 – internationally recognised framework for sustainable forest management applied to Australia’s forests.
- State and territory frameworks – jurisdictional legislation and codes of practice are applied to ensure environmentally responsible forestry practices.
- Forest certification – independent third party forest certification to credible forest management standards applies to most of Australia’s production forests.
How is SFM measured?
Since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, several national and international initiatives have been launched to improve our understanding of and measure progress towards SFM.
At the national level, Australia uses the international Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators (C&I) as the basis framework for monitoring and measuring how well our forests are being managed.
As every forest region of Australia is different, the application and importance of the criteria and their respective indicators varies between tenures and broad forest types.
As such, Australia developed a ‘framework’ for assessing the sustainability of forest management which could be applied across all Australian forests. This was achieved through the national-level Montreal Process Implementation Group for Australia (MIG), compromising representatives of the Australian, state and territory governments, which devised the 44 indicators used to track progress across the criteria.
Australia reports on its progress towards SFM as measured by the Montreal Process C&I, through the five-yearly release of the State of the Forests Report.