Economic indicators and their use in sustainable forest management


  • Gary Bull
  • Olaf Schwab
  • Priyangi Jayasinghe



economic theory, indicators, sustainable forest management


The economic sustainability literature highlights important theoretical and practical limitations when developing economic indicators to assess sustainable forest management (SFM). Since SFM is multi-disciplinary, no body of theoretical knowledge can embrace all of its dimensions. There is a significant gap between economic theory and management application which will likely remain. For the economic indicators, spatial scales have a very significant impact on the indicator chosen, and there is a danger of not selecting the best indicator simply because there is little or poor-quality data. The use of criteria and indicator frameworks and certification systems is a means to define and assess SFM. However, these frameworks and systems do not address some key conflicts in economic theory. This paper explores these conflicts and their challenges, identifies areas for improvement, and provides some guidance on the use of economic indicators in forest management. The authors conclude that: (1) stakeholder participation is imperative for sfm; (2) all stakeholders need to clearly state their choice of framework before beginning a dialogue on the implementation of economic indicators; (3) new methods for measuring economic sustainability based on the concept of total capital need to be developed; (4) spatial scale must be thoroughly discussed and incorporated into the set of indicators chosen; (5) a selection process needs to be developed to help in balancing the “best” indicators against the “practical” indicators which may not fully address the issues at hand; and (6) the collection and maintenance of appropriate datasets is a priority for the implementation of economic indicators.