The Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE) defines the sustainable management of forests as:
“The stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfill, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems”.
The origins of “Sustainable Forest Management” (SFM) captured in the definition given above come from the “Forest Principles” adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Apart from the more obvious economic goals, SFM also addresses social and environmental needs and since the Earth Summit in Rio, many forestry institutions around the World have chosen to practice various forms of sustainable forest management. More recently the benefits of forests and woodlands to human well-being have been measured in terms of the sum of all ecosystem services they provide from the support of soil to the provision of materials and food.
A sophisticated process of working with sets of criteria and indicators to guide sustainable forest management have since been developed to evaluate the achievement of SFM at all levels of operation; international, national and community. By 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the first ever Non-Legally Binding Instrument on all types of forests. It was intended to serve as a demonstration, to the international community, the importance of preserving the integrity of global forests through careful stewardship and sustainable management.
In this module students will assess and evaluate forest practice, both through case studies and in the field, using the latest scientific evidence and practical knowledge in sustainable forest management. Through a combination of theory and field-based workshops students will develop skills in measuring ecosystem benefits of forests and woodlands as well as develop a practical knowledge of the latest techniques used in forest ecosystem management, including “close to nature forestry”.