Australia's Sustainable Forest Management Framework of Criteria and Indicators 2008 – Policy Guidelines [1.6MB] details the seven criteria and 44 indicators in the framework used for reporting on the state of Australia's forests. It includes the rationale for the inclusion of each indicator in the framework, within the relevant criterion. All such frameworks are developed on the premise that sustainable forest management is a process of continuous improvement.
This is Australia's second framework of criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management. The original framework was developed in 1998 and used in production of SOFR 2003. A major review of Australia's Sustainable Forest Management Framework of Criteria and Indicators was conducted during 2006, and led to the current set of Australia's indicators of sustainable forest management which closely align with the international Montréal Process set of indicators.
Forests are complex ecosystems that provide a wide and dynamic array of environmental and socioeconomic benefits and services. The essential aim of sustainable forest management is to maintain the broad range of forest values in perpetuity. However, assessing progress towards this aim is difficult. Criteria and indicators are used to simplify the task by characterising the essential components of sustainable forest management. They are intended to provide a common understanding of what is meant by sustainable forest management and a common framework for describing, assessing and evaluating a country's progress towards sustainability at the national level.
Most methods of sustainability assessment follow a broadly similar approach involving an analytical hierarchy, in which information is organised so that each individual component contributes to the understanding of a larger theme or question (the 'criterion'). The individual components ('indicators') may then be examined in terms of their contribution to key sustainability measures. Australia's approach comprises the following criteria:
- Criterion 1. Conservation of biological diversity
- Criterion 2. Maintenance of productive capacity of forest ecosystems
- Criterion 3. Maintenance of ecosystem health and vitality
- Criterion 4. Conservation and maintenance of soil and water resources
- Criterion 5. Maintenance of forest contribution to global carbon cycles
- Criterion 6. Maintenance and enhancement of long-term multiple socioeconomic benefits to meet the needs of societies
- Criterion 7. Legal, institutional and economic framework for forest conservation and sustainable management.
These criteria are the same as those developed by the international-level Montréal Process Working Group on Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests, known as the Montréal Process Working Group, which was formed in 1994 by a number of countries with temperate and boreal forests. Members of the working group are Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, the Russian Federation, the United States of America and Uruguay; the Montréal Process criteria are therefore applied across 90% of the world's temperate and boreal forests. Australia accepted the criteria developed by the Montréal Process Working Group, but adapted the indicators to better suit the country's unique forests.