Historical Context for Criteria and Indicators
CRITERIA. Resource managers make decisions based on what people value about natural resources and the ecosystem. Criteria provide a sense of the relative importance society places on resource values and uses. Criteria capture a wide range of ecological, social, and economic values.
INDICATORS. Each criterion has multiple indicators that are measurable, predictable, and feasible. The indicators are considered together when judging the status of the particular criterion.
Cooperative Efforts to Define Resource Health and Human Values
The State of Michigan is incorporating international, national, and regional efforts to define resource health and sustainability. A brief history of this development follows.
In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development (also referred to as the Brundtland Commission) published Our Common Future. This document explained that "the 'environment' is where we all live, and 'development' is what we do in attempting to improve our lot within that abode." It also defined "sustainable development' as " ...it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
In early 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (also called the Earth Summit); forests were identified as a key component of sustainable development worldwide. Later in 1992, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe sponsored an international seminar in Montreal on sustainable development of temperate and boreal forests.
The objective was to develop, implement, and report on the basis of internationally agreed criteria and indicators (C&I) to measure the conservation and sustainable management of temperate and boreal forests.
In 1995, in Santiago, ten countries, including the United States, endorsed the process begun in Montreal, now referred to as the Montreal Process. A list of Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests, was issued in a document called the Santiago Declaration. It endorsed seven national-level criteria and sixty-seven indicators for the “conservation and sustainable development of temperate and boreal forests.” These C&I were designed to focus attention on the bio-physical, economic, and social elements of sustainability.
The Montreal Process C&I were developed as national level guides to assess forest sustainability. However, they are also being used as models and guides for naming values and assessing forest sustainability at regional, state, and local levels.
The Northeastern Forest Resource Planners Association, an organization of state forest planners in the twenty Northeast and Midwest states, in cooperation with the USFS State and Private Branch, Northeast area are using the seven criteria in the Santiago Declaration as starting points from which to develop indicators that can be used by all or most of the twenty states. By using the Montreal Process Criteria, assessments can be better compared and combined with assessments nationally and internationally.
In 1998, the Great Lakes Forest Alliance, a non-profit corporation representing a broad range of forest resource interests, identified five criteria and 145 indicators to measure and monitor the progress of sustainable forest management for the Great Lakes Region.
In 1997, all DNR Divisions agreed to begin applying ecosystem management principles to the management of the State’s natural resources.