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Indicator Facts

CBD Strategic Goal: B. Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use.

Aichi Biodiversity Target: Target 7. By 2020 areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity. 

CBD AHTEG proposed Headline Indicator: Trends in integration of biodiversity, ecosystem services and benefits sharing into planning, policy formation and implementation and incentives; Areas under sustainable management

Key Indicator Partner:

Associate Partner:

Data Available: Global times series, 1995 onwards

Development Status: Ready for global use

Reason

Policy questions that the indicator addresses: Forests are highly diverse ecosystems; covering 30% of the total land area on earth, they provide habitats for around two-thirds of all species. As well as being important for biodiversity, forests also serve a wide range of ecosystem functions essential to human life. Forests themselves are home to around 300 million people, and forest resources are used for building materials, food and medicines. Forests also protect other landscapes and habitats against nutrient loss, erosion and landslides through the binding action or roots. The loss of forests would have significant impacts on biodiversity and also humankind.

Indicator relationship to main Aichi Biodiversity Target: Target 7: By 2020 areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity.
The forest certification indicator measures the area of responsibly managed forests, including natural or semi-natural forests that are used to produce timber and non-timber forest products, and forest plantations. An increase in the area FSC certified forest represents an increase in the area of commercial forest managed responsibly with respect to biodiversity conservation, such as establishment of set-aside areas, protection of rare, threatened and endangered species and their habitats, identification and preservation of High Conservation Values, as well as exclusion of forest conversion to plantations or non-forest land uses.
 

 

Status

The indicator shows a positive response in regard to protecting biodiversity through the sustainable management of forests. The area of certified forest has increased from 3.24 million hectares in 1995 to 180.44 million hectares as of July 2013. The annual growth rate is relatively constant since 2005, only once falling below 10 million hectares.
After a first peak in 1999 of >50%, the share of boreal forest area dropped to 30% in 2003, but since then has increased and stabilised at the 50% level. The share of (sub)tropical forest area has been rather stable since 2003, fluctuating between 11% and 15% .
Nearly two thirds of the certified forest area is within natural forests (65%), more than a quarter (28%) has been issued for semi-natural and mixed (plantation and natural) forests and less than a tenth for plantations (8%).

 

Scale

Although this indicator is currently only used at the global level, as data for this indicator originates from individual FSC sites this indicator can be disaggregated at the regional and national level.

Indicator presentation


Total FSC certified forest area (ha)

Source: FSC, July 2013

How to Interpret the Indicator

This indicator measures the area of responsibly managed forests, including natural or semi-natural forests that are used to produce timber and non-timber forest products, and forest plantations.
An increase in the area of FSC certified forest represents an increase in the area of commercial forest managed responsibly with respect to biodiversity conservation, such as establishment of set-aside areas, protection of rare, threatened and endangered species and their habitats, identification and preservation of High Conservation Values, as well as exclusion of forest conversion to plantations or non-forest land uses. This increase results in reduced global pressures on forest biodiversity, which may subsequently reduce biodiversity loss. However, any corresponding benefit to biodiversity through the responsible management of FSC certified forests would be counteracted at global scale by ongoing degradation and deforestation of uncertified natural forest areas.
A decline in the area of FSC certified forest would indicate increased risk of biodiversity loss, providing that once certified forest is still used for commercial forestry.
It is important to note that in addition to forest area certified under other schemes, many forests claimed to be sustainably managed have not been certified because the certification process demands time and financial resources that many forest owners, especially those of smaller areas, are unwilling or unable to commit.

Current Storyline

Commercial forestry and forest conservation are often viewed as being incompatible, as they are pursuing different objectives. For example, forestry operations are managing land for continual supply of timber and other forest products and forest conservationists are managing land for maintaining or restoring biodiversity, ecosystem services and other conservation values. One approach to combining these two objectives in natural resource management is the adoption of multiple use forest management practices, supported by the instrument of forest certification.
While several certification systems have been developed to assess the management of individual forests according to agreed criteria in order to enable forest products to be sold as coming from sustainable or responsible sources, the scheme of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has been selected by UNEP-WCMC due to FSC having the widest geographic scope, the longest history, the broadest support from civil society and the strongest contribution to biodiversity conservation.
FSC offers a global system with certificates issued in all forest types around the world. FSC works to improve forest management worldwide, and through certification creates incentives for forest owners and provides confidence to consumers that products with the FSC label are based on high standards which bring social and environmental benefits.

National Use

The data for this indicator originates from the global FSC Certificate Database which can also be filtered by country or region. As a result this indicator can be produced at national and regional levels. The FSC Certificate Database contains up-to-date information as well as public summary reports for all issued certificates, allowing you to identify relevant forest sites and audit results. It is available online at: info.fsc.org.
For more information about producing regional and national forest certification indicators contact the FSC International Center at: ecosystem.services@fsc.org

Indicator Publications

The recent trend and a wide array of specific statistics can be obtained from the FSC website at: http://www.fsc.org/facts-figures.19.htm.  

Photo credits:
Forest from above ©Onno Makor; Timber ©openphoto.net; Timber and logging machine ©Ian Junor

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