Sustainable forestry involves a fragile balance between the demand for forest products and the preservation of forests’ health and biodiversity. Here’s a brief overview of the sustainable forestry movement.

1968: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization holds a pioneer event, the International Conference for Rational Use and Conservation of the Biosphere, in Paris to discuss ecologically sustainable development.

1972: The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment takes place in Stockholm to address economic and environmental issues, including the future of forestry. 

1987: The United Nations World Commisson on Environment and Development publishes “Our Common Future,” also known as Brundtland Report, which popularizes the term “sustainable development.”

1992: Earth Summit takes place in Rio de Janeiro, and sustainable forest management is recognized as a key component to sustainable development. The summit produces the non-binding Statement of Forest Principles that provides guidelines for sustainable forest management. Many of the 172 governments that attend put the principles into practice.

1993: The White House releases Presidential Decision Directive NSC-16 that states that the nation is committed “to a national goal of achieving sustainable management of U.S. forests by the year 2000.”

The Forest Stewardship Council comes into creation “to change the dialogue about and the practice of sustainable forestry worldwide.” The organization establishes principles, criteria and standards that span economic, social and environmental concerns.

1994: The Working Group on Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests meets in Geneva. Ten countries establish the Montreal Process, which deals with criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative program begins to oversee an internationally recognized sustainable forestry certification program.

1996: The Seventh American Forest Congress takes place in Washington, D.C., and more than 1,500 people convene to discuss the future of American forests and develop a set of principles on sustainable forestry.

1998: Six private sector organizations write the Office of Management and Budget and the Council on Environmental Quality to urge cooperation among federal agencies in data collection.

Oregon releases its First Approximation Report on the Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests, making it the first U.S. state to apply the national criteria to its forests.

2000: United Nations establishes the Forum on Forests, a non-legally binding permanent intergovernmental body to "promote the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests."

Nine U.S. federal agencies sign the Federal Memorandum of Understanding on Sustainable Forest Management Data.

2001: The United Nations Millennium Declaration emphasizes the need to adopt a new ethic of conservation and stewardship, including a step "to intensify our collective efforts for the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests."

2002: Society of American Foresters’ Sustainability and Forest Certification Working Group convenes for the first time and focuses on both the cross-cutting aspect of sustainable forestry and forest certification systems.

2004: The Conservation Fund purchases the Garcia River Forest, 24,000 acres of redwood and Douglas fir forest along the Garcia Rive, which becomes California’s first large nonprofit-owned working forest.

2006: The Convention on Biological Diversity recognizes sustainable forest management as a means of applying the ecosystem approach to forests. In Europe, the MCPFE and the Council for the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy also jointly recognize sustainable forest management to be consistent with the ecosystem approach.

2008: The Garcia River Forest becomes one of the first forests — and the largest — to receive verification as a source of greenhouse gas reductions under the protocols of the Climate Action Reserve.

2010: The Forest Products Association of Canada reaches a milestone agreement with environmental organizations. Under the agreement, the company consents to immediately suspend logging for three years on 75 million acres of boreal forest and agrees to abide by the highest standards of sustainable forest management.