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Case Study - Roundtable on Sustainable Forests’ online Consultation

The world’s forest managers have debated the ways in which forest conservation and management can be part of a sustainable management of the planet. Ten years ago there was little social or professional agreement on what sustainable management of forests meant. Does it mean the sustainable production of wood, or does it mean something more?

This question was being asked in the U.S. and many other countries following the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio Janeiro, Brazil. In 1993, Canada convened an international meeting to see if a common understanding could be achieved. The global dialogue on the issue of sustainable forest management continued through a series of international meetings.

To prepare the U.S. delegations to those meetings, representatives of government (State and Federal), industry, environmental groups, universities, land owner organizations, and professional societies met several times, and representatives from many of these organizations participated in the international meetings. This collaborative effort produced a set of 7 criteria and 67 indicators (C&I) for the conservation and sustainable management of temperate and boreal forests. The C&I reflect general agreement that sustainable forest management means, at least at the national scale, more than the production of wood.

Meridian Institute continues to facilitate the Roundtable on Sustainable Forests, an ongoing multi-stakeholder dialogue focused on shared leadership and learning around the goal of sustainable forest management. Since 1999, the Roundtable has focused much of its attention on identifying and evaluating the quality of data that can be used to assess the state of the nation's forests and providing input to the federal government on the production of the National Report on Sustainable Forests.

Through these activities, the Roundtable has stimulated a national discussion of sustainable forest management and has served as the catalyst for improved collaborative data management relationships among several federal agencies.

The issue now is whether the Montreal C&I cover, in a broad way major interests, concerns, and values. Is the list of criteria correct, too broad, or too narrow? We all know that collecting data for some indicators is difficult and costly. What indicators are essential if we are to make wise decisions about our forests, and what others might we consider dropping?

Dialogue by Design is providing the Round Table's first online consultation process for selection of these key criteria. To join or browse this online consultation visit http://sustainableforests.dialoguebydesign.net

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