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 6.5.1 Coverage, attributes, frequency, and statistical reliability of forest inventories Indicator 6.5.2 Availabilty of forest inventory information to the public Indicator 6.5.3 Investment in forest research, timber products industry research and development, and education Indicator 6.5.4 Status of new or updated forest management guidelines and standards related to ecological issues
6.5 Informed Decision Making
Part of Canada’s responsibility to ensure the sustainable management of its forests is to demonstrate its commitment to improve the population's understanding of ecosystems and the relationship between the environment and the economy. At the individual level, it is important for Canadians to make an effort to be more aware of these issues and to better understand the perspectives and values related to forests. At the institutional level, it is essential that the agencies responsible for forest management use the best available data and that these data are also made available to the public to ensure transparency in forest management. Also, institutions must clearly show that forest management standards are supported by the best available research, and that there is an on-going process in place to update these standards.

Indicator 6.5.1 provides an overview of current efforts to report on the status of forest resources over time. Increasingly, society is expecting forest inventories to generate better information more effectively and efficiently through the use of highly sophisticated technologies. Because forest inventories are the primary source of information for forest management planning and decision making, the degree of public access to inventory information is considered an important indicator of the value society places on informing the public. Indicator 6.5.2 reports on this issue of public access to existing crown and private inventory data sets. In general, data on crown lands is already accessible and information on private lands is also becoming increasingly available as more private landowners agree to answer information requests.

Trends in levels of investment in S&T research and development and in higher levels of education provide the basis for another indicator of society’s commitment to more informed decision making. Together, these investments are made to increase innovation in the forest sector. Indicator 6.5.3 tracks these investments and currently reveals an overall increase in direct and indirect investment levels, although further refinement of investment categories among jurisdictions would improve this assessment. Indicator 6.5.4 reports on progress toward meeting society’s need for leading edge forest practices, by showing whether sustainable forest management guidelines and standards are attuned to the latest research results. All crown lands are currently subjected to guidelines that are updated on an on-going basis through public and professional expert input, and that are made public to allow for scrutiny.

Indicators 6.5.3 and 6.5.4 also relate to Indicators 3.1, 3.2, and 6.4.2 which report on compliance to guidelines. Investing in research drives the constant improvement of knowledge on forest ecosystems. This knowledge is then used to keep sustainable forest management guidelines and standards at the cutting edge of science. Finally, monitoring compliance to guidelines and standards ensures that they are being adhered to. Using these three components of the overall management process can help to indirectly assess, for instance, changes in soil and water quality and quantity, which would be too difficult or expensive to measure directly.