FRASC: California's Montreal Protocol Criteria and Indicators
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention is responsible for regulating and tracking certain activities, such as timber harvest and vegetation management, as well as providing land owner advice about sustainable practices. The Forest Practice Rules provide guidance for sustainable timber harvesting. Additionally, CAL FIRE provides incentives and assistance for sustainable private forest and range stewardship such as the California Forest Improvement Program (CFIP).
When assessing the conditions of forests and rangelands every five years, we want to know if CALFIRE's management policies and assistance programs are working to create sustainability. We want the ability to track over time if conditions are improving or deteriorating. But then again, we need to know what "improving" means, and conversely, what "deteriorating" means. In short, we need to have a definition of sustainable and some agreed upon ideas of what to measure to assess progress toward or away from it.
The Montreal Protocol and Sustainable ForestryIn 1994, as a result of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, an international working group of forests stakeholders was established to address sustainable forestry:
"The Montreal Process Working Group (MPWG) was formed in 1994 following the Rio Earth Summit to advance the development of internationally agreed criteria and indicators for the conservation and sustainable management of temperate and boreal forests and to monitor, assess and report on forest trends at national and global levels. (montrealprocess.org)"The international work group (MPWG) developed seven criteria for assessing forest sustainability. For each criteria, they identified roughly 10 indicators to provide users with a measuring stick to determine sustainability within each criterion. The 2003 Forest and Rangelands Assessment was organized based on the Montreal Process framework; each chapter of the Assessment addressed one Montreal Process criterion and attempted to measure the associated indicators.
The 2008 Assessment shifted focus away from Montreal Process criteria and indicators to a format developed by the USFS for state forestry assessments. Each chapter included analyses of threats and assets in order to generate “Priority Landscapes” for the conservation.
The 2015 Assessment of Forest and Rangelands:For the 2015 Assessment, FRAP will integrate the strengths of both approaches. The key to this approach is developing a customized, local set of “California Forest and Rangeland Indicators” (CFRI) to measure progress toward the seven criteria determined by the Montreal Process. To integrate the two approaches, the CFRIs may also suggest threats and assets to develop priority landscapes. Ideally, the CFRIs should:For the 2015 Assessment, FRAP will integrate the strengths of both approaches. The key to this approach is developing a customized, local set of “California Forest and Rangeland Indicators” (CFRI) to measure progress toward the seven criteria determined by the Montreal Process. To integrate the two approaches, the CFRIs may also suggest threats and assets to develop priority landscapes. Ideally, the CFRIs should:
1. measure trends in California rangeland and forest conditions toward or away from sustainability
2. use the most current data, or identify data needs
3. be useful for comparison in five year intervals
4. suggest appropriate threat/asset analyses for developing priority landscapes. The resulting PL will provide a visual depiction that implicates future trends for the CFRIs;
5. be developed through a process that solicits and incorporates public input and discussion on relevant indicators, metrics, target conditions, and data sources.
Stakeholder involvement:“An informed, aware and participatory public is indispensable to promoting sustainable forest management. The Montreal Protocol criteria and indicators are a useful tool for involving stakeholders in data collection and forest discussions at national and sub-national levels and in improving the quality of forest-related information available to policy-makers and the public. Stakeholder involvement and awareness should help catalyze improved forest policies and practices.” (Montreal Protocol 2009)The critical key to success of our effort to develop California Forest and Rangeland Indicators is the involvement of interested stakeholders throughout the process. The participation of stakeholders will allow us to:
- Tap into new ideas and new datasets that we might not know exist. The exchange of information goes both ways -- interested stakeholders will also learn about what ideas and datasets CALFIRE is using. Working collaboratively we can determine the best ideas and the best data for the given time.
- Build a set of measures of sustainability that we can believe in. The Assessment is meant to guide policy and decision making for CALFIRE and the USFS. However, it also serves as a source of information for private landowners, conservations groups, and county and local governments. To reach the largest audience and be of the most use, the Assessment must contain the best and most recent data. Working collaboratively with stakeholders, we will all have a chance to suggest the measures we believe to be the best at the given time.