Criteria and Indicators

What are Criteria and Indicators?

Criteria define broad categories of sustainability. Each criterion has one or more indicators that provide specific measurements. Metrics then identify the data used to measure the indicators. For example, the goal of a criterion may be to maintain and enhance the long-term socioeconomic benefits that forests provide to society. An indicator to help measure that criterion is outdoor recreational participation and facilities. This indicator has metrics that identify recreation categories, number of users, and number and types of facilities. One specific metric is "recreational facilities on State land".


The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, also known as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development proved to be the catalyst for creating a process to identify a method to measure forest sustainability.

As a direct result of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, a seminar was held in Montréal, Canada in 1993 to identify measurable criteria and indicators for monitoring sustainable forest management. This seminar was attended by worldwide experts in the sustainable development of boreal and temperate forests. It was their hope that the development of criteria and indicators would facilitate the measurement of various aspects of forests, as well as monitor continued progress towards sustainable forest management. Now termed, The Montréal Process, this seminar developed seven criteria and 67 indicators that have been utilized in various forms by participating countries, including the United States, to quantify sustainable forestry.

Small road through a forestIn the last few years, the USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area and the 20 State Forestry agencies in the Northeastern Area Association of State foresters agreed upon a set of Base 18 indicators that address information needs common to the multi-state sustainability efforts. The Base 18 are organized under the seven Montréal Process criteria and the data sources and metrics recommended are suitable for monitoring indicators at both state and regional scales. Wisconsin has participated in this effort and has made a commitment to work towards gathering data on the Base 18. Data is available for the majority of the indicators and metrics and is acknowledged as being relevant to local situations in Wisconsin.

The Advisory Committee will build upon the Base 18 and additional indicators and/or metrics will be evaluated for their usefulness in articulating Wisconsin's forest sustainability.

Check out these fact sheets that explain more details about criteria and indicators.

  • Why Montreal - Why the Base 18 are being used as a starting point?
  • C&I and Certification - What are the similarities and differences between a statewide criteria and indicator system and certification programs?