In the quest for global standards, Criteria and Indicators (C&I) are among the
foremost mechanisms for defining and promoting sustainable tropical forest
management. This paper examines some challenges posed by this approach, focusing
on examples that reflect the ecological aspects of tropical forests at a management-unit
level and assessments such as those required in timber certification. C&I can foster
better forest management. However, there are confusions and tensions to reconcile
between general and local applications, between the ideal and the pragmatic, and
between the scientific and the democratic. To overcome this requires a sober appraisal
of what can realistically be achieved in each location and how this can best be
promoted. Good judgment remains the foundation of competent management. Data can
inform this judgment, but an over-reliance on data collection and top-down bureaucratic
interventions can add to problems rather than solving them. These arguments stress
compromise, planning, guided implementation, and threat preparedness. Importance is
also placed on skills and institutions: the building blocks of effective forest
management. The authors suggest some options for improving forest management.
Although a wider discussion of these issues is necessary, procrastination is harmful.
Action is needed.
Topic: tropical forests,forest management,forest ecology,sustainability,assessment,criteria,indicators,institutions
Publication Year: 2004
Source: Ecology and Society 9(1)