In the previous three modules, we examined the physical and biological criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management. In this module, we will look at some of the human factors that increasingly must be considered when dealing with sustainable forest management. This will include some of the social, economic and cultural values associated with forests (Topic 1), and the legal basis for forest conservation and management (Topic 2).
At the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (http://www.un.org/geninfo/bp/enviro.html), much attention focused on the major new Conventions that were agreed. However, there was a pervasive subtext in all the discussions and subsequent agreements: the need to take more notice of people affected by decisions, and in all cases to involve them in future decisions. Since then, this emphasis has steadily increased and, today, most environmental issues are also framed within the perspective of the impacts on people, particularly local people. Understanding how to ensure that any adverse effects of forest management are mitigated, and how best to incorporate the needs of local people into forest management planning are essential components of the work of today’s forest managers.