Blog List

Monday, 12 September 2016

Multidimensional Measurements and Approaches to Forest Sustainability Assessments

Published Date
Volume 6 of the series Managing Forest Ecosystems pp 71-98


Multidimensional Measurements and Approaches to Forest Sustainability Assessments

An overview of models, approaches, and issues
  • Author 
  • Guillermo A. Mendoza
  • Ravi Prabhu


This article provides an overview of concepts, models, measures, and dimensions of forest sustainability assessments. The methods described include models that are fully developed and have actually been applied to various application contexts, as well as two normative models, graph theory and cognitive mapping, that appear to have potential for more in-depth analysis of the interactions of sustainability indicators. The former is based on the principles of multi-criteria analysis (MCA), an approach that is capable of accommodating the amount of complexity and uncertainty inherent in the concept and practice of forest sustainability. The other methods make use of “softer” analyses that are suited particularly for the assessment and measurement of qualitative indicators of sustainability. The MCA models are capable of determining relative importance of indicators and estimating sustainability index values based on the combined impacts of indicators. Measures of relative importance can be used to prioritise indicators or filter out those that are relatively unimportant. ‘Softer’ analysis methods such as cognitive mapping and graph theory can help examine the interactions between and among indicators and help identify critical domains, critical paths, and tactically and strategically important indicators, based on the strength of their connectivity with other indicators, either directly or indirectly. These measures of connectivity can provide useful insights that can help managers identify indicators in need of attention, monitoring, or even mitigation when necessary. Concepts such as the use of sustainability thresholds and qualitative flags are also discussed.


  1. AF&PA (American Forest and Paper Association). 1995. Sustainable forestry: principles and implementation guidelines. Washington D.C.
  2. Bell, S. and Morse, S. 1999. Sustainability Indicators: Measuring the Immeasurable. Earthscan Publications Ltd. London.
  3. Bockstaller, C., Girardin, P. and van der Werf, H.M.G. 1997. Use of agroecological indicators for the evaluation of farming systems. European Journal of Agronomy 7: 261–270.CrossRef
  4. Brlacich, M., Bryant, C.R and Smith, B. 1991. Review and appraisal of concept of food production systems. Environmental Management. 15 (1): 1–14.CrossRef
  5. Committee of Scientists. 1999. Sustaining the people’s lands: Recommendations for stewardship of the national forests and grasslands into the next century. Washington, D.C. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.
  6. Conway, G.R. 1994. Sustainability in agricultural development: trade-offs with productivity, stability and equitability. Journal of Farming Systems Research Extensions 4 (2): 1–14.
  7. Cornforth, I.S. 1999. Selecting indicators for assessing sustainable land management. Journal of Environmental Management 56: 173–179.
  8. Costanza, R., Norton, B. and Haskell, B.D. 1992. Ecosystem Health: New goals for Environmental Management. Island Press.
  9. Cramb, R.A. 1993. Shifting cultivation and sustainable agriculture in East Malaysia: A longitudinal study. Agricultural Systems. 42: 209–266.
  10. Ducey, M.J. and Larson, B.C. 1999. A fuzzy approach to the problem of sustainability. Forest Ecology and Management 115: 29–40.
  11. Eden, C. and Akermann, F. 1998. Making Strategy: The journey of strategic management. Sage Publications. London.
  12. FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council). 1994. Forestry Stewardship Principles and Criteria for Natural Forest Management. Oaxaca, Mexico.
  13. Froger, G. and Munda, G. 1998. Methodology for environmental decision support. In: Faucheux, S. and
  14. O’Connor, M. (Eds.). Valuation for Sustainable Development. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK.
  15. Gray, R. 1991. Economic measures of sustainability. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics. 39: 627–635.CrossRef
  16. Hansen, J.W. 1996. Is agricultural sustainability a useful concept? Agricultural Systems. 50: 117–143.CrossRef
  17. Heinen, J.T. 1994. Emerging, diverging and converging paradigms on sustainable development. International Journal of Sustainable Development, World Ecology 1: 22–33.
  18. Hermanidez, G. Nijkamp, P. 1998. Multicriteria evaluation of sustainable agricultural land use: A case study of Lesvos. In: Beinat E. and Nijkamp. P. (Eds.). Multicriteria Analysis for Land Use Management. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.
  19. Ikerd, J.E. 1993. The need for a systems approach to sustainable agriculture. Agricultural Ecosystems and Environment 46: 147–160.CrossRef
  20. ISO (International Standardization Organization). 1995. Environmental Ecolabelling: guiding principlespractices and criteria for multiple criteria-based practitioner programs. Guides for Certification Procedures. Geneva, Switzerland.
  21. ITTO (International Timber Trade Organization). 1992. Criteria for the measurement of sustainable tropical forest management. Yokohama, Japan.
  22. IUFRO (International Union of Forestry Research Organization). 1997. Symposium on sustainable Management of Small Scale Forestry. Murashima, Japan. September 8–13, 1997.
  23. Lal, R. 1991. Soil structure and sustainability. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture: 67–91.
  24. Lamnerts V.B., E.M. and Blom, F. 1997. Hierarchical framework for the formulation of sustainable forest management standards. Netherlands, Veeman Druckers. 82 p.
  25. Mebratu, D. 1998. Sustainability and sustainable development: historical and conceptual review. Environmental Impact Assessment Reviews: 493–520.
  26. Mendoza, G. A. 1997. An introduction to the analytic hierarchy process: Theory and applications to natural resources management. National Annual Conference. In: Proceedings of the Joint Annual Meeting of the
  27. American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM); American Association of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS); and Resources Technology Institute (RTI). April 5–10. Seattle, WA. Pp. 130139.
  28. Mendoza, G.A., Prabhu, R. 2000a. Multiple criteria decision making approaches to assessing Forest sustainability using criteria and indicators: A Case Study. Forest Ecology and Management 131: 107–126.CrossRef
  29. Mendoza, G. A. and Prabhu, R. 2000b. Evaluating and Selecting Criteria and Indicators for Forest sustainability: A Case Study on Participatory Assessment under CBFM in the Philippines. Journal of Environmental Science and Management 2 (2): 33–53.
  30. Mendoza, G.A. and Prabhu, R. 2000c. Integrating multiple criteria decision making and geographic information systems for assessing sustainability of tropical forests. 2°d International Conference on Multiple Objective Decision Support Systems. Proceedings: MODSS for Managing Watersheds and Natural Resources. Brisbane, Australia. Aug. 1–6. 1999. (In Press).
  31. Mendoza, G.A. and Prabhu, R. 2000d. Multiple criteria analysis for assessing criteria and indicators in sustainable forest management: A case study on participatory decision making in a Kalimantan forest. Environmental Management 26 (6): 659–673.PubMedCrossRef
  32. Mendoza, G.A., Hartanto, H., Villanueva, T. and Prabhu, R. 2001. Multicriteria and Critical Threshold Value Analyses in Assessing Sustainable Forestry: A Case Study. Journal of Sustainable Forestry (In press).
  33. Mendoza, G.A. and Prabhu, R. 2001. A fuzzy analytic hierarchy process for assessing biodiversity conservation. In: Schmoldt, D., Kangas, J., Mendoza, G. and Pesonen, M. (Eds.). The Analytic Hierarchy Proces in Natural Resources and Environmental Decision Making. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Dordrecht. Pp. 219–234.
  34. Mendoza, G.A. and Prabhu, R. 2002. Qualitative multi-criteria approach to assessing indicators of sustainable resource management. Forest Ecology and Management (In press).
  35. Munda, G. 1998. Multicriteria evaluation methods in renewable management: integrated water management under drought conditions. In: Beinat, E. and Nijkamp, P. (Eds.). Multicriteria Analysis for Land-use Management. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Dordrecht.
  36. Neher, D. 1992. Ecological sustainability in agricultural systems: definition and measurement. In: Olson, R.K. (Ed.) Integrating Sustainable agricultureEcologyand Environmental Policy. Haworth Press Inc. London.
  37. Nijkamp, P. and Vreeker, R. 1999. Sustainability assessment of development scenarios: methodology and application to Thailand. Ecological Economics 33: 7–27.CrossRef
  38. Nijkamp, P. and Ouwersloot, H. 1997. A decision support system for regional sustainable development: The Flag Model. In: van der Bergh, J.C.J.M. and Hofkes, M. (Eds). Theory and implementation of sustainable development modeling. Dordrecht. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Dordrecht.
  39. NRC (National Research Council Board of Agriculture). 1998. Forested landscapes in perspective: Prospects and opportunities for sustainable management of America’s nonfederal forests. National Academy Press. Washington D.C.
  40. van Pelt, M.J.F., Kuyvenhoven, A. and Nijkamp, P. 1995. Environmental sustainability: issues and definition and measurement. International Journal of Environmental Pollution 5 (2/3): 204–223.
  41. Poore, D. 1990. Sustainability in the tropical forest. Journal of the Institute of Wood Sciences 12 (2): 103–106.
  42. Prabhu, R., Colfer, C., Venkateswarlu, P., Tan, L.C., Soekmadi, R. and Wollenberg, E. 1996. Testing Criteria and Indicators for the sustainable management of forests. Phase I. Final Report. CIFOR Special Publication.
  43. Prabhu, R., Colfer, C. and Dudley, R.G. 1998. Guidelines for Developing, Testing and Selecting Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. CIFOR Special Publication.
  44. Prabhu, R., Ruitenbeek, H.J., Boyle, T.J.B. and Colfer, C.J.P. 2001. Between voodoo science and adaptive management: the role and research needs for indicators of sustainable forest management. In: Raison, J., Brown, A., Flinn, D. (Eds.). Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. CABI Publishing, Oxford.
  45. Renning, K. and Wiggering, H. 1997. Steps towards indicators of sustainable development: linking economic and ecological concepts. Ecological Economics 20: 25–36.CrossRef
  46. Saaty, T. 1995. Decision Making for Leaders: The Analytic Hierarchy Process in a Complex World. RWS Publications.
  47. Saaty, T. 1996. MultiCriteria Decision Making: The Analytic Hierarchy Process. University of Pittsburgh. Sample, A. and Aplet, G.H. 1994. Defining sustainable forestry. Island Press.
  48. Washington, D.C. SCS (Scientific Certification Systems). 1994. The Forest Conservation Program: Programme Description and Operations Manual. California.
  49. Schmoldt, D., Kangas, J., Mendoza, G. and Pesonen, M. (Eds.). 2001. The Analytic Hierarchy Proces in Natural Resources and Environmental Decision Making. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Dordrecht. 305 pp.
  50. SGS Forestry. 1994. Assessors Handbook, Policy Document and Procedures Manual.
  51. SGS Forestry, Oxford, UK. Spedding, C.R.W. Sustainability in animal production systems. Journal of Animal Science 61: 1–8.
  52. Torquebiau, P.B. 1992. Are tropical agroforestry gardens sustainable? Agricultural Ecosystems and Environment. 41: 189–207.CrossRef
  53. Udo, H.M.J. and Cornelissen, A. 1998. Livestock in resource poor farming systems. Agricultural Outlook 27(4): 237–242.
  54. Varma, V.K., Ferguson, I. and Wild, I. 2000. Decision support system for sustainable forest management. Forest Ecology and Management 128: 49–55.
  55. Vavra, M. 1996. Sustainability of animal production systems: an ecological perspective. Journal of Animal Science 74(6): 1418–1423.
  56. Verbruggen, H. and Kuik, O. 1991. Indicators of sustainable development: An overview. In: Kuik, O. and Verbruggen, H. (Eds.). In search of indicators of sustainable development. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.
  57. Vogt, K.A., Larson, B., Gordon, J., Vogt, D. and Fanzeres, A. 1999. Forest Certification: Roots, Issues, Challenges, and Benefits. CRC Press.
  58. Wenger, R.B., Harris, H.J., Sivanpillai, R. and Devault, D.S. 1999. A graph-theoretic analysis of relationships among ecosystem stressors. Journal of Environmental Management 57: 109–122.CrossRef
  59. Zadeh, L. 1965. Fuzzy sets. Information Control. 8: 338–353.CrossRef

For further details log on website :

No comments:

Post a Comment

Advantages and Disadvantages of Fasting for Runners

Author BY   ANDREA CESPEDES  Food is fuel, especially for serious runners who need a lot of energy. It may seem counterintuiti...