Our History

History of Dialogue Related to
U.S. Government Commitment to Sustainable Forest / Resource Management

1968 International Conference for Rational Use and Conservation of the Biosphere (Paris, France)

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held pioneering event for discussing ecologically sustainable development.

1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, Sweden; known as Stockholm Conference)

Addressed economic and environmental issues.

Led to United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)—mission is “to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.”

1983 World Commission on Environment and Development (known as Brundtland Commission)

Prime Minister of Norway (Gro Harlem Brundtland) asked by Secretary General of United Nations to lead a special commission.

Addressed how the world community could:

Develop a long-term environmental strategy for achieving sustainable development by the year 2000 and beyond.
Define a shared perception of long-term environmental issues and appropriate efforts to deal with them effectively.

1984 International Conference on Environment and Economics (OECD)

Concluded that environment and economics should be mutually reinforcing. Helped shape Our Common Future (see below).

1987 Our Common Future (also known as Brundtland Report)

Published report of the World Commission on Environment and Development popularized term ‘sustainable development.’

Defined ‘sustainable development’ as “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; known as Earth Summit)

Established ‘sustainable development’ as a common goal of human development for the 160 or so countries that attended the meeting.

Recognized sustainable management of forests as key component to sustainable development.

Set out Agenda 21 as a blueprint for action in the 21st century; includes non-binding Statement of Forest Principles that provides guidelines for sustainable forest management.

1993 United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)

CSD established to help countries implement Agenda 21 in follow-up to Earth Summit.

1993 International Seminar of Experts on Sustainable Development of Boreal and

Temperate Forests (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)

Resulted in initiatives to develop and implement internationally agreed criteria and indicators for the conservation and sustainable management of temperate and boreal forests.

1993 Second Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (Helsinki, Finland)

USDA-Forest Service, representing U.S. as observer country, stated belief that all countries, not just members of the International Tropical Timber Organization, should adopt the goal of sustainable forest management by the year 2000.

1993 Presidential Decision Directive / NSC-16 (United States)

Stated that U.S. committed “…to a national goal of achieving sustainable management of U.S. forests by the year 2000.”

1993 President’s Council on Sustainable Development (United States)

In Executive Order 12852, the President established the Council on Sustainable Development to develop and recommend a national sustainable development action strategy that will foster economic vitality and invite experts to submit information to the Council to review and report on the development of national and local sustainable development plans.

1993 Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force (United States)

Established in August 1993 to further President’s National Performance Review calling for agencies of the federal government to adopt “a proactive approach to ensuring a sustainable economy and a sustainable environment through ecosystem management.”

Released report in June 1995 titled The Ecosystem Approach: Healthy Ecosystems and Sustainable Economies that presented findings and recommendations.

1994 United States GAO Report on Ecosystem Management (United States)

United States General Accounting Office (GAO) examined Administration’s federal management and natural resources framework for Congressional requestors, resulting in report dated April 29, 1994, titled Ecosystem Management: Additional Actions Needed to Adequately Test a Promising Approach.

Barriers identified as: (1) problems with data, (2) problems with interagency coordination, and (3) insufficient collaboration with non-federal parties.

1994 Working Group on Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests (Geneva, Switzerland)

Ten countries establish “Montreal Process” and hold first meeting in September 1994: Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, and United States.

1994 International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, Egypt)

Conference gave high profile to view that extreme poverty and a short of essential environmental resources can exacerbate ethnic and political divisions.

1995 Santiago Declaration (Santiago, Chile)

Original ten Montreal Process countries (listed above) endorsed on February 3, 1995, a statement of political commitment together with a comprehensive set of seven criteria and sixty-seven indicators for the conservation and sustainable management of temperate and boreal forests.

Now includes twelve countries on five continents comprising 60 percent of the world’s forests, 90 percent of the world’s temperate and boreal forests, and 35 percent of the world’s population: original ten (listed above) plus Argentina and Uruguay.

1995 Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF)

United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development established IPF to continue forest policy dialogue following Earth Summit for two years, with first IPF meeting held on September 11-15, 1995, in New York City.

1996 Montreal Process Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)

TAC established to support Montreal Process.

Working Group agrees that all participating countries will prepare First Approximation Reports.

1996 President’s Council on Sustainable Development (United States)

Released report, Sustainable America—A New Consensus, that:

Outlined goals for “economic prosperity, environmental protection, and social equity together” (known as the 3 e’s)
Included policy recommendation on sustainable forest management: “Establish a structured process involving a representative group of stakeholders to facilitate public and private efforts to define and achieve the national goal of sustainable management of forests by the year 2000.”

1996 Seventh American Forest Congress (United States)

More than 1500 citizens gathered in Washington, D.C. to discuss “what common ground do we have with regard to America’s forests?” and developed vision elements and set of principles, many of which include ‘sustainability.’
1996 United States Department of Agriculture Policy (USDA) (United States)

Secretary established Department-wide policy on Sustainable Development (Secretary’s Memorandum 9500-6) focusing on sustainable agriculture, sustainable forestry, and sustainable rural community development.

1997 Intergovernmental Panel on Forests Proposals for Action

IPF Proposals for Action were presented to the United Nations and endorsed by the Special Session of the General Assembly to Review and Appraise the Implementation of Agenda 21 (UNGASS).

1997 Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF)

IFF established in July 1997 by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) under the Commission on Sustainable Development as successor to IPF to continue policy dialogue on forests, with program of work including IPF’s Proposals for Action.

1997 Montreal Process First Approximation Report

Participating countries developed individual country reports for Montreal Process to “share lessons learned.” The countries then prepared a consolidated report, published and presented along with reports by other regional initiatives at Eleventh World Forestry Congress (Antalya, Turkey).

1997 National Association of State Foresters’ Resolution on Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management (United States)

National Association of State Foresters (NASF) approved Resolution Number 1997-6 on September 18, 1997.

1997 National Association of State Foresters and USDA-Forest Service (United States)

NASF along with several other non-governmental organizations and USDA-Forest Service (FS) exchanged letters leading to further commitment by FS to sustainable forest management.

1998 Private Sector Support (United States)

Six private sector organizations wrote Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) within Federal government to urge cooperation among Federal agencies in data collection: NASF, Global Forest Policy Project, American Forest & Paper Association, National Audubon Society, Society of American Foresters, and World Wildlife Fund.

1998 G-8 Foreign Ministers

Ministers fully endorsed the 1997 outcomes of the UNGASS meeting on sustainable forest management. Published, and committed member countries to implement, the Action Program on Forests.

Set out specific measures to promote sustainable forest management which featured implementation of national criteria and indicators.

1998 Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on Sustainable Resource Management (United States)

In response to a private sector letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the FS convened public meeting for public and private sector representatives to share perspectives about Montreal Process and discuss opportunities to foster sustainable forest and resource management in the United States.

1998 Oregon’s First Approximation Report (FAR) (United States)

FAR is the State of Oregon’s Report on the Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests developed through the Montreal Process. Oregon, the first state in the nation to apply the national criteria to its forests, did so under the guidance of its Board of Forestry and Department of Forestry.

1998 Great Lakes Sustainable Forest Management Report (United States and Canada)

Report for the Great Lakes Forest Alliance involving Michigan, Minnesota, Ontario, and Wisconsin, dated June 4, 1998, on Assessing Program in Sustainable Forest Management: Proposed Criteria and Indicators for the Upper Great Lakes Region reflects public input forums and advice of a technical assistance group.

1999 Roundtable on Sustainable Forests (United States)

Self-chartered with federal and non-federal co-chairs, and facilitated by Meridian Institute “…to serve as a forum to share information and perspectives that will enable better decision making in the U.S. regarding sustainable forests.”

Initial focus “is to implement and promote utilization of the Criteria and Indicators (C&I) contained in the Santiago Declaration of the Montreal Process as a means of measuring national progress towards achievement of this goal.”

1999 Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable (United States)

Organized as a companion process to the Roundtable on Sustainable Forests and facilitated by Colorado State University with federal and non-federal involvement to “identify indicators of sustainability based on social, economic, and ecological factors, to provide a framework for national assessments of rangelands and rangeland use.”

1999 Sustainable Minerals Roundtable (United States)

Includes federal agencies and non-federal organizations, convened by the University of Nevada-Reno, “to support the nation’s commitment to sustainable development” and to “develop indicators of sustainability, based on social, economic, and environmental factors, to provide a means for assessing the status and trends of minerals/materials and energy systems.”
1999 Our Common Journey (United States)

Report of four-year study conducted by the National Research Council within the National Academy of Sciences published in response to request from major benefactor, George P. Mitchell, to address the research needs for the global commons of atmosphere, land, and water as well as to respond to the Academies’ desire to reinvigorate the role of science and development in sustainable development and to contribute to the meeting of 80 international academies in 2000 on the topic of a transition toward sustainability.

1999 Sustaining the People’s Land; Recommendations for Stewardship of the National Forests and Grasslands into the Next Century (United States)

Report by the Committee of Scientists, as designated by the Secretary of Agriculture, to provide technical and scientific advice on land and resource management planning on the national forests and grasslands. This report helped provide the basis for incorporating sustainability into subsequent USDA Forest Service Planning Rules.

2000 United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF)

Established in February 2000 as a non-legally binding permanent intergovernmental body to “promote the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests…” and to facilitate and promote the implementation of proposals for action emanating from the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests and its successor, the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests, over a five year period.

2000 Federal Memorandum of Understanding on Sustainable Forest Management Data (United States)

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) initially signed October 16, 2000, by nine Federal agencies in U.S; included twelve agencies as of September 2001.


A common interagency forum for Federal coordination to resolve issues integral to collecting, monitoring, analyzing, reporting, and making data available on an ongoing basis related to the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators.
A process for helping the Federal agencies develop a national report by 2003 for policy makers and the public in the United States and for the Montreal Process on the state of the Nation’s forests and progress towards sustainable forest management in the United States.

2001 Sustainable Forest Data Working Group of Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) (United States)

FGDC Working Group chartered in February 2001 to further the goal of sustainable forest resources by fostering the standardization and implementation of criteria and indicators of sustainability; and responsible for developing annual work plans to implement the Federal MOU on Sustainable Forest Management Data.

2000 UNFF—Organizational Meeting and First Session

Organizational Meeting of UNFF held, which led to First Session where a Multi-Year Program of Work (MYPOW) was adopted to focus work of future UNFF sessions on specific issues and at which the work of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests was initiated.

2000 United Nations Millennium Declaration

General Assembly Resolution 55/2—United Nations Millennium Declaration—was adopted by countries of the United Nations during the Millennium Summit to reaffirm their commitment to “a more peaceful, prosperous and just world.”

Declaration identifies eliminating poverty as highest priority; and includes related Millennium Development Goals.

Section on ‘Protecting our common environment’ emphasizes need to adopt a new ethic of conservation and stewardship, with steps including “to intensify our collective efforts for the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.”

2000 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE)

Countries in Europe and North America, participating in the ECE Regional Ministerial Meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Geneva, Switzerland, adopted a Ministerial Statement that focuses on two overarching objectives: Poverty eradication, and Sustainable production and consumption patterns. Related priorities include: Sustainable management and conservation of natural resources, Environment and health, making globalization work for sustainable development, improving governance and democratic processes at all levels, Education, Science and technology, and Financing for sustainable development as a crucial cross-cutting issue.

2001 NASF Sustainable Forestry Implementation Committee (SFIC) (United States)

NASF, at its 79th Annual Meeting, reaffirmed its “strong commitment to leadership and involvement in sustainable forestry in the United States” in Resolution Number 2001-1 that changed the status of its ad hoc SFIC to a standing committee.

2002 Forest Service Role in Sustainable Development Letter (Forest Service) (United States)

In a July, 2001, letter Phil Janik, Chief Operating Officer, reinforced the Agency’s sustainability mission, use of criteria and indicators, and emphasized the value of the Roundtable on Sustainable Forests.

2002 Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (United States)

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR) brought together federal, state, corporate, non-profit and academic sectors to advance the understanding of the nation’s water resources and develop tools for their sustainable management. The SWRR mission is to promote sustainability of the nation’s water resources through the evaluation of information, development, and use of indicators, targeting of research, and the engagement of people and partners. The end goal is to improve the management, conservation and use of water and related resources at local, watershed, national, and global levels.

2003 Society of American Foresters’ Sustainability and Forest Certification Working Group (United States)

New working group created to focus on cross-cutting aspect of sustainable forestry and forest certification systems as well as to help support activities of other Society working groups and committees with related interests.

2002 First Approximation Report for States of the Northeast and Midwest (United States)

Result of two-year assessment published by the USDA-Forest Service in cooperation with State Foresters and State Forest Resource Planners within 20-state region includes a Sourcebook on Criteria and Indicators of Forest Sustainability in the Northeastern Area dated May 2002.

2002 UNFF—Second Session (UNFF2)

UNFF2 addressed progress related to environmental aspects of the conservation and sustainable management of forests (e.g., deforestation and forest degradation) as well as concepts, terminology, and definitions.

Included Ministerial segment during which a “Ministerial Statement and Message to the World Summit on Sustainable Development” was adopted.

2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, South Africa)

Summit resulted in two negotiated documents: Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

Also focused implementation of Agenda 21 set out at the 1992 Earth Summit on more integrated and cross-sectoral solutions through voluntary public/private partnerships for sustainable development.

2002 Draft State of the Nationals Ecosystems Report (Heinz Center) (United States)

The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems lays out a blueprint for periodic reporting on the condition and use of ecosystems in the United States. Developed by experts from businesses, environmental organizations, universities, and federal, state, and local government agencies, it is designed to provide policymakers and the general public with a succinct and comprehensive—yet scientifically sound and nonpartisan— view of “how we are doing.” Draft report was subsequent updated in a web only format in 2003 and 2005.

2002 Local Unit Criteria and Indicator Development (LUCID) Project (Forest Service) (United States)

The LUCID project was a pilot project conducted from 1999 through 2002 by the USDA Forest Service Inventory and Monitoring Institute in conjunction with eight national forests on six sites to develop and test an approach for monitoring sustainability at the local, or forest management unit (FMU) scale.

2003 National Report on Sustainable Forests (Forest Service) (United States)

This report presents an analysis of the available data on the condition of forests in the United States. It uses the criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management endorsed by the Montreal Process. The report also makes recommendations for next steps to move forward the state of the art for analysis of sustainable forest management in the United States.

2004 Environmental Indicators: Better Coordination Is Needed to Develop Environmental Indicator Sets That Inform Decisions (GAO) (United States)

The GAO report recommends that the Chair of CEQ develop institutional arrangements needed to ensure a concerted, systematic, and stable approach to the development, coordination, and integration of environmental indicator sets.
2005NFMA Planning Rule (USFS) (United States)

This final rule adopts a framework for National Forest System land management planning with one the intended effects to reaffirm the principle of sustainable management consistent with the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act and other authorities.

2005 National Association of State Foresters Letter to Chief Bosworth (Forest Service (United States)

In a September, 2005, letter to Chief Bosworth, the National Association of State Forester, together with 13 other organizations, encouraged the Forest Service to ensure continued leadership for the Agency on sustainable forest management policies and inter-agency coordination.

2007 USDA Forest Service Strategic Plan FY 2007-2012 (Forest Service) (United States)

The plan provides strategic direction that guides the Forest Service in delivering its mission which is to “Sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.” To achieve sustainability the agency will integrate environmental, social, and economic issues and values into its management decisions and actions while accounting for future as well as present needs.

2007 Land Management Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (Forest Service) (United States)

Based upon NFMA, the overall desired condition is that NFS lands contribute to sustaining social and economic systems within the plan area and provide a framework to contribute to sustaining ecological systems to support the diversity of native plant and animal species in the plan area. The framework identifies a key set of social, economic, and ecological desired conditions towards which the management of the land and resources of the plan area is to be directed.

2007 A Green Compass: Institutional Options for Developing a National System of Environmental Indicators (National Academy of Public Administration Report (United States)

In December 2007, the National Academy report recommended practical steps for creating a national system of environmental indicators. The Study Panel worked closely with a federal interagency team to explore institutional options to select and regularly produce environmental indicators that are reliable, relevant and trusted. The Panel recommended that the five federal environmental and natural resources agencies forego organizational changes and instead use a pilot to engage states and other key players, broaden support and build momentum for a national system of indicators through Administration transition.
2007 Sustainable Forest Act of 2008 (NASF) (United States)

The National Association of State Foresters begin discussions in the forestry community and briefings on Capitol Hill on adoption of a national policy for sustainable forests to guide the future stewardship and investment for the nation’s forests.

2008 State of the Nationals Ecosystems Report (Heinz Center) (United States)

The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems 2008 presents 108 indicators that describe the condition and use of U.S. ecosystems. The report focuses on key characteristics such as ecosystem area and composition, chemical and physical properties, condition of biological resources, and the goods and services that people derive from ecosystems.

2008 NFMA Planning Rule (USFS) (United States)

Sustainability is still the overall goal of the 2008 planning rule, just as it was in the 2005 rule. The proposed rule describes the NFS land management planning framework; sets up requirements for sustaining social, economic, and ecological systems; and gives directions for developing, amending, revising, and monitoring land management plans.

2008 National Environmental Status and Trends Indicator Project (United States)

National Environmental Status and Trends (NEST) Indicators Project sets forth an action plan for key Federal agencies and their partners that will take the next step to further develop capacity for regular production of national environmental indicators. Federal decision makers, other partners and stakeholders, and the public will be able to use NEST Indicators to help analyze national trends and assess the impact of national programs on the Nation’s environment and natural resources.

2010 Draft National Report on Sustainable Forests—2010 (United States) released for public review. Review process included a 60 day open public comment period, solicited reviews from selected forest experts, and review workshops managed by the Sustainable Forests Roundtable and held in Denver Colorado, Athens Georgia and Washington D.C.

2011 Final version of the National Report on Sustainable Forests – 2010 (United States). The 2nd report in a series (the first was released in 2004), the National Report on Sustainable Forests presents data and analysis relevant to assessing the sustainability of forests in the United States using the Montréal Process C&I as its foundation.

2013 Production of the National Report on Sustainable Forests – 2015 (United States) begins. The 3rd report in the series begins with an initial Sustainable Forests Roundtable meeting in Washington D.C. The 2015 version will follow the precedent established in the 2003 and 2010 Reports, combining Montréal Process C&I displays with analysis and summary material presented in separate sections.