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Chapter 7. Governance

Overview of Chapter 7: Legal, Institutional, and Economic Framework for Forest and Range Conservation and Sustainable Management

October 2003

"Criterion 7 and associated indicators relate to the overall policy framework of a country that can facilitate the conservation and sustainable management of forests. Included are the broader societal conditions and processes often external to the forest itself but which may support efforts to conserve, maintain, or enhance one or more of the conditions, attributes, functions, and benefits captured in Criteria 1 through 6."

-Report of the United States on the Criteria and Indicators for the Sustainable
Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests, USDA Forest Service 1997

Institutions for governing forestry include governmental laws, regulations, guidelines, policies, and programs. They also involve citizen, private business, and public sector decision-making. These institutions are applied through agencies, reflected in markets, and adjudicated both in the courts and at the ballot box. They affect land ownership and use, direct the flow of goods and services among consumers today and into the future, and set the context of government agency operation. Thus, institutions of any society frame its approach to forest and range sustainability.

Under the umbrella of federal law, each state has developed its own set of institutions and laws to manage forest and range issues. California’s framework is a mix of historic approaches intermingled with a variety of new arrangements. These new approaches and tools for managing forest and rangelands are driven by the urban nature of California and its rapid demographic change. The impact that California’s urban nature has had on forest and rangeland issues is illustrated by five concepts:

  • The ways in which individuals perceive, value, and use forest and rangelands are shifting;

  • Values such as recreation, wildlife habitat, and water quality have become increasingly important;

  • Demand to provide a wider variety of experiences for California's diverse population is rising; and

  • Conflicts over different forest uses and values are inherent; resolution of these conflicts, when it is possible, requires common understandings and new institutional approaches.
Jackson Demonstration State Forest, Mendocino County
Jackson Demonstration State Forest, Mendocino County

Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators

The Montreal Process specifies five sub-categories of Criterion 7 that characterize the governing framework of California's forest and rangelands. More specific indicators are grouped under each sub-category.

Extent to which the legal framework (laws, regulations, guidelines) supports the conservation and sustainable management of forests

Montreal Process indicators 48 through 52 discuss the legal framework related to citizens rights, public participation, and use of best management codes for conservation of forest resources. Topics include property and land tenure rights, forest-related planning and policy reviews, public participation in policy and decision making, best practice codes for forest management, and the conservation of environmental, cultural, and social values.

Extent to which the institutional framework supports the conservation and sustainable management of forests

Montreal Process indicators 53 through 57 examine the ways in which institutions such as the federal government, state government, and non-government organizations (NGOs) address education, forest-related planning and assessment, the development of human resource skills, infrastructure support, and enforcement procedures.

Extent to which the economic framework (economic policies and measures) supports the conservation and sustainable management of forests

Montreal Process indicators 58 and 59 discuss the extent to which the economic framework (investment policies, market incentives, and subsidy programs) promotes sustainable forest practices. These indicators focus on aspects such as the level of investment in various natural resource sectors and policy decisions supporting funding.

Capacity to measure and monitor changes in the conservation and sustainable management of forests

Montreal Process indicators 60 through 62 focus on the capacity to measure changes by assessing the availability and extent of up-to-date data, statistics, and other information important to tracking Montreal Process Criteria one through seven. Other indicators addressed by this sub-criterion define the scope, frequency, and statistical reliability of forest assessments as well as compatibility between the ways that various countries measure, monitor, and report on indicators.

Capacity to conduct and apply research and development aimed at improving forest management and delivery of forest goods and services

Montreal Process indicators 63 through 67 address research and development related to measuring ecosystem function, integrating environmental and social cost in resource analysis, evaluating the impact of new technologies, and predicting the impact of human intervention on forest resources. Countries rely upon a base of knowledge to support socio-economic and legal frameworks, and an integration of this knowledge is essential for reporting on and demonstrating sustainability..

Assessment sections summarizing legal, institutional, and economic frameworks

The Assessment generally follows the Montreal Process when describing the legal, institutional, and economic frameworks supporting forest and range conservation and sustainable management. Since there are nearly 20 indicators to consider, this is a complex task. Over 100 State and federal laws apply to forest and range resources and are implemented by approximately 30 State and federal agencies. There are numerous relevant federal Executive Orders and initiatives, as well as State and local programs. Additionally, there are an increasing number of cooperative programs between levels of government, citizens, and the private and non-profit sectors. The result is a mixture of programs and jurisdictions, some of which are contradictory in nature.

The Assessment presents seven on-line technical reports addressing the legal, institutional, and economic frameworks related to forest and range conservation in California. Each section is linked in a separate Adobe Acrobat pdf file below.

  • Legal Framework focuses on the laws that affect forests and rangelands and the institutions that implement them. The discussion specifically addresses private forests and rangelands as they relate to private property rights, local ordinances, evolving legal status of hardwood rangelands, California regulation and practice codes, and conflict resolution. Discussion on public frameworks includes laws and initiatives administered by federal agencies within the State. Finally, impacts of crosscutting regulations such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act are reviewed.

  • Institutional Framework: Governance Shifts during the 1990s focuses on emerging governance structures. These include collaborative relationships between government agencies and non-government organizations along with shifting federal agency policies and management objectives. The emerging structures have been highlighted by increasing government interactions with professional societies, watershed groups and private landowners resulting in a broader, more scientific, watershed-based approach to analyzing and managing forest and rangelands; increased collaboration; the growth of conservancies and land trusts as conservation agents; and the growth of community-based watershed groups.

  • Public Participation and Involvement focuses on current and future opportunities for public involvement as well as education relating to forest management policy and decision making. The discussion includes public attitudes and interest in environmental issues as well as educational opportunities available though extension programs and nonprofit groups.

  • Infrastructure and Services in Support of Forest and Range Communities analyzes funding for rural California’s infrastructure and services that support community needs. Measures of these functions include funding for physical structures (such as roads) and services (such as education), which together create the setting for economic prosperity and sustainable use of resources.

  • California's Wildland Fire Infrastructure focuses on the emergency service resources and trends in protection policies relating to fire suppression activities on forest and rangelands.

  • Resource Investments reviews sources of investment used to manage and enhance natural resources and the nature of work provided by these investments. Since the restoration of functioning ecosystems is a growing environmental focus in California, major themes include investments that help improve watershed and habitat conditions, rehabilitation of damaged forests and rangelands, the maintenance of open space, and the protection of forests from catastrophic fire and pest damage.

  • Information Collection, Monitoring, and Research focuses on the programs and institutions that seek to improve the knowledge of management and ecological function of California's forest and rangelands.

Literature cited

U.S. Forest Service. 1997. Report of the United States on the criteria and indicators for the sustainable management of temperate and boreal forests. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Web site accessed July 15, 2002.

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