BC releases 2006 State of the Forests Report
The British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range recently released its second report on The State of BC's Forests. The report provides detailed information using 12 indicators of sustainability that cover environmental, economic and social, and governance and support aspects of forests or forest management. These indicators are based on the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers and the Montreal Process indicators. The second edition of the report also provides updates on some indicators published in the first, 2004, edition.
I think that this report is an excellent example of how to disseminate complex information on SFM indicators in a really simple and easy to use fashion. The report is designed primarily as an interactive web product, although a print version is available. Besides being easy to read and navigate, the author, Tom Niemann, has provided links to references and raw data so that users can easily track down additional information, or grab, repackage, and re-present information to their communities of interest.
So how does one improve on such a well-packaged product? I think that the next step for this or subsequent reports is to provide an online forum for discussions on the implications of the indicator trends for sustainability. The report encourages users to "make their own assessment of sustainability" regarding the indicators and to "engage in informed, constructive discussion about the future management of BC's forests". By providing a place online for these discussions, the Ministry would not only be promoting their own objectives (people discussing SFM), but users would add new, value-added content to the report. This could lend credibility and authority to the report, encourage users to return to the site (to see what's new), increase new visits to the site, and provide valuable information back to the government (i.e. what do people think?). In short, it would move reporting on progress toward SFM away from the monologue that it currently often is and more towards a dialogue among citizens and between citizens and their government. No doubt there are several technological, legal and political hurdles to clear before this can happen. Let's hope BC is up to the challenge.