Sustainability criteria in the spotlight
The EU moves on with its development of an EU wide set of SFM criteria. At the same time Forest Europe started to revise its pan-European Criteria and Indicator set.

The Ad Hoc Working Group on SFM Criteria and Indicators to be developed under the EU Forest Strategy has its next meeting on 12 March. It will be the fourth out of five meetings scheduled. The last meeting is planned for early June.

In order to have a complete picture of the different national systems in place to ensure and demonstrate SFM and to identify the technically feasible and politically relevant criteria and indicators, a questionnaire has been send to the members of the Standing Forestry Committee. Stakeholders, as represented in the Working Group, were asked to provide input to the third section of the questionnaire, which looks into concrete proposals for relevant indicators, particularly in context of the 2020 forest objectives. With the support from the CEPF working group, Janne Näräkkä (MTK, Finland) and Aljoscha Requardt (CEPF), who represent private forest owners in this process, elaborated some input to the questionnaire, which has been sent to the Commission recently. In addition, a general presentation will be given from forest owners side at the next meeting, which will once more underline the general principles CEPF defined to be considered in this process, such as the acknowledgment of Forest Europe C&I scheme as a key basis and that whatever later data reporting should be based on existing national level monitoring systems and data.  

The results of the questionnaire together with the presentations from MS and stakeholders, the report from the Commission services on the EU policy needs and the input from the research community on the development and implementation of indicators, will be the basis for the Working Group to elaborate a recommended set of SFM criteria and indicators, as agreed in the mandate.

Parallel to the EU driven initiative, the Forest Europe process started to revise and update its pan-European C&I scheme. The mandate for this process has been given by member states the last Expert Level Meeting (ELM) in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on 20-22 January, when representatives of FOREST EUROPE signatories agreed on the urgent need to update the current C&I set and start a process focused on this objective. This process will include a participatory procedure, which is expected to consist of two online consultations among all the FOREST EUROPE focal points and a workshop. The ELM also established an Advisory Group (AG) to facilitate the updating. The CEPF Secretary General, Aljoscha Requardt, represents CEPF in this expert group.

The Advisory Group met for the first time on 11 February 2015. 18 delegates from FOREST EUROPE signatory countries, stakeholders and scientific experts with experience in the field of sustainability indicators, monitoring and reporting and forest policy attended at the meeting.

Building on the inputs received from countries and stakeholders during the first online consultation, the work of the AG focused on the revision of the qualitative indicators and the quantitative indicators as included under criterion 4, 5 and 6. The experts will continue working online on the remaining indicators during the next weeks. A second meeting of the AG will possibly be held at the beginning of April 2015.

The main outcomes of the work carried out by the Advisory Group will be reflected in a report with preliminary suggestions for updating the current set of SFM indicators, which will be presented at the next Expert Level Meeting in June 2015. 

CEPF calls for a maximum use of synergies between these two processes, to ensure that the outcomes will be not of harm but benefit for the European forest owners and forest sector as such.