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15.2.1 Progress Towards Sustainable Forest Management

Target 15.2: By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally

Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Custodian Organization: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Tier Classification: Tier I

To facilitate the implementation of the global indicator framework, all indicators are classified by the IAEG-SDGs (Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goals Indicators) into three tiers on the basis of their level of methodological development and the availability of data at the global level, as follows:

Tier I: Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, and data are regularly produced by countries for at least 50 per cent of countries and of the population in every region where the indicator is relevant.

Tier II: Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, but data are not regularly produced by countries.

Tier III: No internationally established methodology or standards are yet available for the indicator, but methodology/standards are being (or will be) developed or tested.

Source: United Nations Statistical Division

Definition: “Sustainable forest management” (SFM) is a central concept for Goal 15 and target 15.1 as well as for target 15.2. It has been formally defined, by the UN General Assembly, as follows:

[a] dynamic and evolving concept [that] aims to maintain and enhance the economic, social and environmental values of all types of forests, for the benefit of present and future generations” (Resolution A/RES/62/98)

The indicator is composed of five sub-indicators that measure progress towards all dimensions of sustainable forest management. The environmental values of forests are covered by three sub-indicators focused on the extension of forest area, biomass within the forest area and protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources. Social and economic values of forests are reconciled with environmental values through sustainable management plans. The sub-indicator provides further qualification to management of forest areas, by assessing areas which are independently verified for compliance with a set of national or international standards.

The sub-indicators are:

  • Forest area annual net change rate
  • Above-ground biomass stock in forest
  • Proportion of forest area located within legally established protect areas
  • Proportion of forest area under a long term forest management plan
  • Forest area under an independently verified forest management certification scheme

A dashboard is used to assess progress related to the five sub-indicators. The adoption of the dashboard approach provides for clear view of areas where progress towards sustainable development goals has been achieved.

Rationale: The definition of SFM by the UN General Assembly contains several key aspects, notably that sustainable forest management is a concept which varies over time and between countries, whose circumstances – ecological, social and economic – vary widely, but that it should always address a wide range of forest values, including economic, social and environmental values, and take intergenerational equity into account.

Clearly a simple measure of forest area, while essential, and used for target 15.1, is insufficient to monitor sustainable forest management as a whole. The significance of the five sub-indicators can be briefly explained as follows:

  1. Trends in forest area are crucial for monitoring SFM. The first sub-indicator focuses on both the direction of change (whether there is a loss or gain in forest area) and how the change rate is changing over time; the latter is important in order to capture progress among countries that are losing forest area, but have managed to reduce the rate of annual forest area loss.
  2. Changes in the above-ground biomass stock in forest indicate the balance between gains in biomass stock due to forest growth and losses due to wood removals, natural losses, fire, wind, pests and diseases. At country level and over a longer period, sustainable forest management would imply a stable or increasing biomass stock per hectare, while a long-term reduction of biomass stock per hectare would imply either unsustainable management of the forests and degradation or unexpected major losses due to fire, wind, pests or diseases.
  3. The change in forest area within legally protected areas is a proxy for trends in forest biodiversity conservation and a clear indication of the political will to protect and conserve forest biodiversity. This indicator is related to the CBD Aichi Target 11 which calls for each country to conserve at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas.
  4. The fourth sub-indicator looks at the forest area that is under a long term forest management plan. The existence of a documented forest management plan is the basis for long term and sustainable management of the forest resources for a variety of management objectives such as for wood and non-wood forest products, protection of soil and water, biodiversity conservation, social and cultural use, and a combination of two or several of these. An increasing area under forest management plan is therefore an indicator of progress towards sustainable forest management.
  5. The fifth sub-indicator is the forest area that is certified by an independently verified forest management certification scheme. Such certification schemes apply standards that generally are higher than those established by the countries’ own normative frameworks, and compliance is verified by an independent and accredited certifier. An increase in certified forest area therefore provides an additional indication of progress towards sustainable forest management. It should however be noted that there are significant areas of sustainably managed forest which are not certified, either because their owners have chosen not to seek certification (which is voluntary and market-based) or because no credible or affordable certification scheme is in place for that area.

Limitations: The five sub-indicators chosen to illustrate progress towards sustainable forest management do not fully cover all aspects of sustainable forest management. In particular, social and economic aspects are poorly reflected in the current set of sub-indicators. Furthermore, there are some data gaps, and the trends of some of the sub-indicators reflect different sets of countries. While the dashboard illustrates the progress on the individual sub-indicators, there is no weighting of the relative importance of the sub-indicators.

Source: United Nations Statistical Division

Data Source: Data for this indicator was primarily collected from the United Nations Statistics Division’s Open SDG Data Hub. National level data is provided to the United Nations Statistics Division by the respective nation, unless otherwise noted. To learn more about the data used in this portal, visit the about page.

Data is accurate as of October 31, 2018.

 
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15.2.1 Progress Towards Sustainable Forest Management in the Sustainable Development Goals

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15. Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
15. Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss

15. Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss

Forests cover 30 per cent of the Earth’s surface and in addition to providing food security and shelter, forests are key to combating climate change, protecting biodiversity and the homes of the indigenous population. Thirteen million hectares of forests are being lost every year while the persistent degradation of drylands has led to the desertification of 3.6 billion hectares.

Deforestation and desertification – caused by human activities and climate change – pose major challenges to sustainable development and have affected the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in the fight against poverty. Efforts are being made to manage forests and combat desertification.

Related 15.2.1 Progress Towards Sustainable Forest Management Targets

15.2

By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally