|Biological Diversity||Ecosystem Condition and Productivity||Soil and Water||Role in Global Ecological Cycles||Economic and Social Benefits||Society's Responsibility|
|Aboriginal and Treaty Rights||Aboriginal Traditional Land Use and Forest-based Ecological Knowledge||Forest Community Well-being and Resilience||Fair and Effective Decision Making||Informed Decision Making|
|Indicator 6.4.1 Proportion of participants who are satisfied with public involvement processes in forest management in Canada||Indicator 6.4.2 Rate of compliance with sustainable forest management laws and regulations|
6.4 Fair and Effective Decision Making
In Canada, much effort is devoted to produce sciencebased information and identify social values of the forest in the on-going development and improvement of sustainable forest management (SFM) strategies and practices. Forest practices that are not perceived to reflect social values cannot be considered as effective means to achieve SFM. Increasingly, therefore, the various institutions responsible for forest management and forest resource allocation have encouraged public involvement in their decision-making processes through a variety of approaches. Involving the public leads to the incorporation of the full range of social values into decisions and to quicker responses to changes in these values over time. However, cultural differences, conflicting economic interests, and differences in risk tolerance can complicate decision making, and affect the stakeholders’ perception of its effectiveness.
Indicator 6.4.1 provides one approach to measure the perceived fairness and effectiveness of decision making by reporting the level of satisfaction of participants in public consultation processes in forest management in Canada. Through a national survey of citizen advisory bodies, several interesting observations about this important aspect of SFM have been brought to light.
For instance, those surveyed commented that public participation in itself is a demanding undertaking. Participants recognized that their level of involvement is affected by time constraints, information gaps, and the complexity of issues discussed as part of the process. Interestingly, and perhaps more importantly, participants felt that the processes are reasonably fair and that their involvement is worthwhile. Those surveyed commented that the processes could be improved by accommodating the full spectrum of public interests, although they recognized that the level of commitment required to effectively participate might preclude the involvement of those who could bring those interests to the table.
Decision makers attempt to include the essential aspects of management practices in laws and regulations that are continuously updated to reflect the best available scientific knowledge. However, those who manage Canada's forests must respect these regulations to ensure SFM. One way to determine the degree to which SFM practices have been implemented is to monitor the rate of compliance to these laws and regulations, and Indicator 6.4.2 provides this insight. Overall, the results reported for this indicator demonstrate a very high rate of compliance. Furthermore, there is a high level of monitoring, combined with intense follow-up procedures, to address instances of noncompliance and communicate the need for full compliance.
Determining public values, passing laws and regulations, and conducting compliance audits and enforcement measures, through accessible and transparent processes, improve SFM practices in the short term. In the long term, they will also result in better approaches to public involvement and to the quantification of best practices.