Forests, essential to our survival, face many issues today, including ecosystem losses due to high levels of global consumption, fires, effects of climate change, and strain from an increasing demand for biomass. Although forestry calls to mind clear-cutting rainforests, logging, and general habitat degradation, many global organizations are pursuing sustainable forestry practices. Composed of twelve countries, the Montreal Process Working Group formed in 1994 to address the need for sustainable forest management, as well as analyze initiatives and create indicators of sustainability. Sustainable forestry is the management of forests in accordance with sustainable development principles in order to preserve the area’s ecosystems and biodiversity for future generations. In simplistic terms, sustainable forestry generally ensures that seedlings replace felled trees so that the habitat may continue to exist.
Practices like illegal logging and unsustainable forestry negatively affect areas financially as well as ecologically. When the framework of triple bottom line, or society, environment and economy, are accounted for, forestry can achieve sustainability. Key elements of sustainable forest management are extent of forest resources, biological diversity, forest health and vitality, productive functions and forest resources, protective functions of forest resources, socioeconomic functions, and legal, policy and institutional framework. Forest products companies have been distancing themselves from places with unsustainable practices, and encourage consumers to only purchase from places certifiably sustainable forestry practices.
The state and local governments are typically responsible for forest management. In order to address the complexity of different forest ecosystems, parameters and criteria have been shifting over time.
Written by Leslie Wolf, Class of 2015