Criteria and Indicators

Overarching objectives

Criteria and Indicator (C&I) frameworks are a way to describe an overarching objective and to measure progress towards achieving it.

There are several frameworks of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, including those developed by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM) and the Montreal Process.  These provide guidance to the development of local criteria and indicators, particularly to companies seeking certification.  Below we offer a criterion and broad indicators that have proven effective at guiding adaptive management and monitoring for biodiversity on forest land in British Columbia.

  • The Criterion.  Establishing clear objectives for biological diversity is particularly difficult because of the complexity in defining biodiversity for operational purposes.1,2  Because a scientifically credible and operational definition of biological diversity remains elusive2, interim measures of biological diversity must be used.  We must define biodiversity in a scientifically credible way that will guide management decisions.  The objective or Criterion of maintaining well distributed, productive populations of species and their associated values is a scientifically credible surrogate for the complexity imbedded in the term biodiversity1.

    Maintenance of native species richness over large areas and long time periods is critical to sustain biological diversity.  Associated values include ecosystem processes and habitat structures and patterns necessary to sustain species.

  • The indicators.  Three indicators of biological richness were developed to assess whether or not the objective (Criterion) has been attained.

    Indicator 1 is a coarse-filter approach using ecological representation: ecologically distinct ecosystem types are represented in the non-harvested land base to maintain lesser known species and ecological functions.

    Indicator 2 is a medium-filter approach to maintaining habitat: the amount, distribution, and variability of stand and forest structures important to sustaining biological diversity are maintained over time.

    Indicator 3 is a fine-filter approach to maintaining organisms: productive and well-distributed populations of forest-dwelling species are maintained over time.

1Bunnell, F.L. 1998. Overcoming paralysis by complexity when establishing operational goals for biodiversity. Journal of Sustainable Forest Management 7:145-164.
2Delong, D.C. Jr. 1996. Defining biodiversity. Wildlife Society Bulletin 24:738-749.