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The Montreal Process

Background information on the Process

The Montreal Process began as an initiative of the Government of Canada, which hosted a meeting in Montreal (under the aegis of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe) in September 1993. The goal of the Montreal meeting was to develop a scientifically rigorous set of criteria and indicators (C&I) that could be used to measure forest management. In order to ensure effective follow-up, Canada hosted a small meeting at its embassy in Washington, DC, in December 1993. At the time, both Canada and the US were interested in bringing the European (Helsinki) and the post-Montreal C&I processes together, but were surprised when representatives from the Governments of France, Germany and the UK expressed their preference to remain primarily within the Helsinki Process. From that point forward the Montreal and Helsinki Processes developed in parallel, but with observers invited from governments in each group to attend each other's meetings. After several months of informal meetings (Kuala Lumpur in May 1994, Geneva in June 1994, and New Delhi in July 1994), the process was formalized and renamed the Working Group on Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests. Work to further develop the draft Montreal C&I continued during these meetings, which involved a core group of government representatives from Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, the Russian Federation and the United States.

The first open meeting in the process took place in September 1994, when the US hosted a meeting in Olympia, Washington. The meeting was attended by more than 70 representatives from the core countries and observers from European and tropical countries, intergovernmental organizations, industry and NGOs, who continued work on the C&I. The small core group met once again at a one-day meeting in Ottawa in October 1994, and the larger group reconvened at a meeting in Tokyo on 17-18 November, 1994, to develop a nearly final draft of the C&I.

FINAL MEETING OF THE WORKING GROUP ON CRITERIA AND INDICATORS FOR THE CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF TEMPERATE AND BOREAL FORESTS: The final meeting of the Working Group took place in Santiago, Chile, from 2-3 February 1995. Participants produced two documents: the Santiago Declaration (also available in Spanish and French) and the final version of the seven criteria and associated quantitative and qualitative indicators. A set of rationales for five of the indicators are still being developed and will be added to the final set of documents. The Statement, formally titled "Statement on Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests" endorses the Working Group's legally non-binding criteria and indicators, recommends that other countries also adopt the criteria and indicators, notes that changes in scientific understanding will require review and revision of the criteria and indicators, and submits the endorsement to the FAO/COFO and CSD meetings.

The introduction emphasizes that the criteria address national level policy and sustainability, but are not intended to directly assess sustainability at the forest management unit level, and will be applied and evaluated according to various countries' needs and conditions. Six of the criteria deal with forest conditions, attributes or functions, and the values or benefits associated with the environmental and socio-economic goods and services that forests provide: (1) conservation of biological diversity; (2) maintenance of productive capacity of forest ecosystems; (3) maintenance of forest ecosystem health and vitality; (4) conservation and maintenance of soil and water resources; (5) maintenance of forest contribution to global carbon cycles; and (6) maintenance and enhancement of long-term multiple socio-economic benefits to meet the needs of societies. The seventh criterion - legal, institutional and economic framework for forest conservation and sustainable management - addresses the broader societal conditions and processes often external to the forest itself but that support their sustainable management.

Documentation available

The only document available on-line is the Santiago Statement

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