Sustainable Forestry Partnership at Oregon State University

Definition. Sustainable forestry is the conservation and management of forests coupled with technological and institutional change that ensures attainment of human needs for present and future generations. Sustainable forestry conserves forest and water resources, promotes productivity enhances plant and animal diversity, is environmentally non-degrading, scientifically appropriate, economically viable, and socially acceptable. (Adapted from FAO 1991)

SFP Mission. Promote innovation in sustainable forestry and integrate this innovation broadly into both policy and practice (SFP Webpage).

SFP Vision. The Sustainable Forestry Partnership integrates ecological, social, and economic principles to conserve forests and maintain their productivity now and into the future without degrading the environment. Sustainable forestry will change the face of forestry through its research, education and outreach programs that emphasize: (1) new ways to collaborate among all forestry stakeholders, (2) protection of forest ecosystems at all scales time and space, and (3) viable long-term forest products and equitable outcomes.

Principles of Sustainable Forestry

Ecological. Foresters must protect, maintain and, when necessary, restore the aesthetics, vitality, structure and functions of the natural processes of the forest ecosystem and its components at all landscape and time scales. This includes a holistic approach to research and management planning with long-term objectives that:


Protect or restore surface and groundwater quality and quantity, including aquatic and riparian habitats

Maintain or improve natural processes of soil fertility, productivity and stability

Balance and diversity of native species and their genepools, including flora, fauna fungi, and microbes

Safeguard rare, threatened, and endangered species and habitat

Preserve ancient forests

Asses, reduce and eliminate adverse environmental impacts of forest management, such as from the use of artificial chemicals and pesticides, exotic species, and genetically engineered organisms

Social. Foresters must develop and use innovative links among managers, scientist, decision-makers and the various public stakeholders about the values and the impacts of their activities to determine appropriate and acceptable forest management practices. These links should be:


Participatory—high degree of power sharing among those involved
-equal partners
-grassroots Involvement
-decision making—all stakeholder opinions are involved

Collaborative--building in coordination and communication
-bringing together new and different groups, scientists, and individuals
-avenue for dialogue and communication
-dialogue and dispute resolution

Educational--collective learning
-innovative teaching methods
-provocative, cutting edge topics

Workers Rights
-employment training
-employee safety
-social impacts

Economic. Foresters must recognize and work toward viable, long-term markets and other outcomes for timber and other forest products. These outcomes should be:


-strengthen and diversify economy

Equitable—who benefits?
-current and future generations
-worker enfranchisement
-respect for the land and landowners

Outputs—recreation, timber products, etc.
-optimization not maximization
-scale dependence: local to global assessment
-minimize waste

Comparison of current and sustainable forestry

Current Forestry   Sustainable Forestry
1. Biological and human environments are seen as separate spheres of interest. Biological and social components are studied separately. Human centered view of the world.  

1. Biological and human environments are seen as one sphere of interest. Biological and social components are as parts of one complex ecological system. Activities are consistent with a bio-centered view of the world.


2. Complex systems are too difficult to be studies as wholes and can be understood through a study of the parts.  

2. Complex systems must be studied as wholes and cannot be fully understood through a study of separate parts. Approaches need to be holistic, generalist, and rely on synthesis.


3. Research is based on a project driven analytical process. Forest plans and environmental impact statements are the projects.  

3. Ecological system (biological and human) viability driven analytical process. Research is driven by need to understand how systems change in order to remain viable.


4. Low priority given to understanding the role of external forces and influences on forest management. Management is seen as localized and influenced by local systems.  

4. A conscious attempt is made to understand the role of external ecological and social forces on forest management decisions. Impacts of local, regional, national, global decisions and events on forests are to be studied. Recognition of interactive effects is vital.


5. Impact assessments are local in nature. Environmental and social impact statements refer only to geographically local areas.  

5. A conscious attempt is made to understand the impacts of forest management decisions on external biological and social systems (local, regional, national, global). Recognition of cumulative impacts is vital.


6. Environmental resources are infinite and renewable. Research directed at understanding “wise use” and sustained yields.   6. Environmental resources are finite. Limits of systems must be understood.
7. A relatively short-term (10 years) planning frame is most practical.  

7. A relatively long time frame is necessary for understanding of generational and cumulative effects.


8. Planning is based on a slow rate of change in forest technology and demand for forest products and services.  

8. Faster rates of change in forest technology, demand for forest products and services, and ecological changes must be taken into account.


9. Professionalism often leads to resistance to changing public demands and professional primacy in decision making arena.  

9. Recognition that more decisions about forests are being made in public arenas. Increasingly lower forest-professional primacy in decision-making.


10. Professionalism often leads to resistance to changing public demands and professional primacy in decision making arena.  

10. Professional stewardship includes responsiveness to changing societal demands and expectations.


11. Values implicit, seen as givens.  

11. Values explicit and conscious.


12. Commodity orientation to management.  

12. Asks if nature should be treated as a commodity or resource.


13. Research is mostly intradisciplinary; unit of analysis is discipline specific


13. Research focuses on interconnections, is interdisciplinary; unit of analysis is the system.