In this module, we have examined a number of trends that have led to the adoption (or not) of sustainable forest management. Although there are definitions for sustainable forest management, such as that developed by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), sustainable forest management means different things to different people. This is because it is all about recognizing and giving weights to multiple values. The relative importance of these values differs from forest to forest, and there is no “one size fits all” solution.
Forests are now recognized as providing many goods and services. In the past, the focus has been almost exclusively on the production of timber. Today many other products and services are recognized, and financial values are being given to these. One of the best examples is carbon, with payments for storing carbon in forests becoming increasingly common. However, payments for other services, such as the provision of fresh water and the maintenance of biodiversity, are also emerging. Today’s forest managers will need to take all of these into account when managing a forest.