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State of Finland's Forests 2012: Criteria and indicators

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Long-term time series and permanent field experiment plots are extreme important for the monitoring of changes in forests, and they built up the basis for several indicators. Photo: © Metla/Risto Sarvas
The participation of various stakeholders is needed by setting of the goals for the steering instruments such as for the National Forest Programme.

Criteria and indicators have become an established instrument for assessing and monitoring sustainable forest management. They are used in the preparation and monitoring of forest policies and strategies, reporting on the condition of forests, setting the direction of forest management, publishing information about forests and forestry to political decision makers and other interested parties, making initiatives for research, and forest certification.

The Pan-European Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management are based on the concept of sustainable forest management and use adopted at the Second Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe held in Helsinki in 1993. Resolution H1, Article D states: “ ‘sustainable management’ means the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems.”

The first set of indicators for measuring sustainable forest management in Europe was developed between 1993 and 1995 and was adopted for use in Lisbon in 1998. The set of indicators was revised in 2002–2003, at which point the number of indicators was reduced.

The state of Europe’s forests has been evaluated four times on the basis of these indicators, in connection with Ministerial Conferences on the Protection of Forests in Europe (Lisbon 1998; Vienna 2003; Warsaw 2007; Oslo 2011).

Sustainability in Finnish forests is evaluated using the frame of Pan-European Criteria and Indicators. There are further national indicators in some areas, and some of the Pan-European indicators have been adapted to the national circumstances. Four evaluations of the state of Finland’s forests have been conducted using these indicators: in 1997, 2000, 2007 and 2011.

The six Pan-European criteria for sustainable forest management (FOREST EUROPE) are:

  • Maintenance and appropriate enhancement of forest resources and their contribution to global carbon cycles,
  • Maintenance of forest ecosystem health and vitality,
  • Maintenance and encouragement of productive functions of forests (wood and non-wood),
  • Maintenance, conservation and appropriate enhancement of biological diversity in forest ecosystems,
  • Maintenance and appropriate enhancement of protective functions in forest management, and
  • Maintenance of other socio-economic and cultural functions and conditions.

The indicators of sustainable forest management measure the fulfilment of the criteria; they are divided into three categories:

1) indicators for overall policies, 2) qualitative indicators, and 3) quantitative indicators.

There are 17 qualitative Pan-European indicators (five for overall policies and 12 for the six criteria). Qualitative indicators also include the description of other aspects of forest management which cannot be evaluated or measured numerically.

Overall policies and qualitative indicators can be steering instruments, measures or agreements for the promotion of sustainable development. They are used to describe a specific phenomenon and its status. Qualitative indicators include:

  • regulatory instruments, such as the Forest Act, Nature Conservation Act, Land Use and Building Act, Act on Reindeer Husbandry, etc.
  • institutional arrangements, including monitoring of compliance with the law, forest policy measures and forest programmes, international agreements, organisations, etc.
  • economic instruments, including funding and subsidies, forest taxation, etc.
  • informational instruments, including systems for information gathering, training and consulting, guidelines, inter-organisational cooperation, etc.

Quantitative indicators, currently the number of quantitative indicators is 35, represent numerically measurable parameters or other statistical data or sets of information on forests and forestry. Examples of quantitative indicators that can be measured or evaluated numericallyare the area of land under forest, the volume of stock and the number of employees. Often a certain aspect includes both a qualitative and a quantitative indicator.

Data for the indicators can be obtained from surveys, inventories, statistics, monitoring systems and reports. Threahold levels or standards may be defined for indicators.

Finland’s national indicators for sustainable forest management The list below presents qualitative and quantitative indicators grouped by six criteria. Qualitative indicators are marked with the letter B and a running number (B.1 to B.12). Quantitative indicators have running numbering under each criterion (from 1.1 to 6.11). The order of indicators in the Finnish set is slightly different from that in the Pan-European set, as shown by the indicator numbering.

The principles of sustainable forest management and use, as applied to Finland, are as follows:

A. Overall policy, means of control and instruments for sustainable forest management in Finland
A.1 National Forest Programme and other forest-related programmes
A.2 Institutional frameworks: forestry organisations
A.3 Legislation and jurisdiction framework, and international treaties and conventions
A.4 Financial steering: funding instruments and economic policy
A.5 Informational means

Qualitative (B indicators) and quantitative indicators by criteria

Criterion 1 Forest resources

Preservation and increase of forest land B.1
   Forest area (1.1)
   Growing stock (1.2)
   Age structure of forests (1.3)
Maintenance of carbon balance in forests B.2
   Carbon stock on forest land (1.4)
   Use of wood-based fuels (6.9)
   Building with wood (additional indicator)

Criterion 2 Health and vitality

Maintenance of health and vitality of forests B.3
   Deposition of air pollutants (2.1)
   Chemical soil condition (2.2)
   Defoliation (2.3)
   Forest damage (2.4)
   Potential impact of climate change (additional indicator)

Criterion 3 Productive functions

Safeguarding wood production B.4
   Increment and drain (3.1)
   Quantity and value of annual fellings (3.2)
   Coverage of forest planning (3.5)
Safeguarding and increasing services and non-wood products B.5
   Ecosystem services (additional indicator)
   Non-wood products (3.3)
   Services subject to charge (3.4)
   Accessibility of recreation services (6.10)

Criterion 4 Biological diversity

Safeguarding and protecting biodiversity of forests B.6
   Tree species composition (4.1)
   Forest regeneration (4.2)
   Natural forests (4.3)
   Introduced tree species (4.4)
   Deadwood (4.5)
   Genetic resources (4.6)
   Forest cover in landscapes (4.7)
   Threatened forest species (4.8)
   Protected forests (4.9)

Criterion 5 Protective forests

Maintenance and increasing of the protective functions of forests B.7
  Timberline forests (5.1)
   Protective forests – infrastructure and managed natural resources (5.2)
  Impacts of forest management on waters (additional indicator)

Criterion 6 Socio-economic functions

Maintenance of the economic viability of forestry B.8
   Forest holdings (6.1)
   Contribution of forest sector to gross domestic product (6.2)
   Operating profit in wood production in private forests (6.3)
   Public commodities of forests (6.4)
   Consumption of products of the forest industries (6.7)
   Foreign trade in roundwood and forest industry products (6.8)
Improvement of employment and occupational safety in the forest sector B.9
   Forest sector workforce (6.5)
  Occupational safety and health (6.6)
Safeguarding the opportunities of the public for participation B.10
Research, training and education in forestry B.11
Maintenance of cultural and spiritual values B.12
   Cultural and spiritual values (6.11)



  Updated: 10.12.2012 /MLier |  Photo: Erkki Oksanen, Metla, unless otherwise stated | Copyright Metla | Feedback