In view of the numerous attempts to define the complex issue of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) a globally accepted definition of this term is not available. Several definitions, however, are being used by international institutions, organizations and conferences. As an example, two of these are quoted below:

The Ministerial Conference of Helsinki:
"Sustainable Forest Management means the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, now and in future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems."

International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO, 1992):
"Sustainable forest management is the process of managing forest to achieve one or more clearly specified objectives of management with regard to the production of a continuous flow of desired products and services without undue reduction of its inherent values and future productivity and without undue undesirable effects on the physical and social environment."

Children in forest


SFM therefore can be understood as a continuous process of managing and improving forest operations that

  • require a holistic planning approach which integrates several dimensions of SFM: economic viability, environmental friendliness, political and social responsibility. All of these dimensions should be maintained in perpetuity.
  • comply with nationally & internationally acknowledged forest management standards (Principles, Criteria, Indicators and Performance Standards)
  • call for a multi-functional management directed towards conservation, sustainable use of forest products and services, as well as rural development
  • rest on application of the precautionary principle
  • endeavour to balance multiple stakeholder interests
  • provide equally beneficial effects to all members of the society, for present and for future generations
  • upon fulfilment of the above principles also contribute to achieve the overall goal of sustainable forest development and economic wealth
  • contribute to achieve the overall goal of Sustainable Forest Development and economic wealth, and consequently
  • contribute to Sustainable Development, as promoted by AGENDA 21



In this context, Sustainable Development is considered as:
"...development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs"
World Commission on Environment and Development. Our Common Future. Brundtland Report, 1987.