The Montréal Process is an initiative which arose from a resolution at the 1992 Earth Summit calling for sustainable management of forests and was further developed at a 1993 conference on temperate and boreal forests in Montreal, Canada. The Working Group on Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests ("Montréal Process") was subsequently formed in Geneva in June 1994. Its purpose was to advance the development of internationally agreed criteria and indicators for the conservation and sustainable management of temperate and boreal forests at the national level.
In February 1995 in Santiago, Chile, the members of the working group endorsed a comprehensive set of criteria and indicators for forest conservation and sustainable management for use by their respective policy-makers. The statement of endorsement is known as the Santiago Declaration.
Membership in the Working Group is voluntary and currently includes countries from both hemispheres, covering a wide range of natural and social conditions. The member countries (Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Russian Federation, United States of America and Uruguay) represent about 90 per cent of the world's temperate and boreal forests, amounting to 60 per cent of all of the forests of the world.
The primary aim of sustainable forest management is to maintain a broad, specified range of forest values in perpetuity. Assessing progress towards this goal can be difficult. Criteria and indicators are used to simplify the task by characterising the essential components of sustainable forest management and providing a common understanding and a common framework for describing progress towards sustainability at a national level.
Australia has accepted the criteria developed by the Montréal Process Working Group and adapted the indicators to better suit this country’s unique forests. The criteria and indicators were first used in Australia by the then Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS) to produce the national 2003 State of the Forests Report (SOFR). The indicators were modified in light of the experience gained. This modified set of indicators was used by Australia’s Montreal Process Implementation Group in producing subsequent five-yearly State of the Forests Reports.
The ABARES website also hosts the website of Forests Australia which contains the most up-to-date information available on Australia’s forests.