Review of Voluntary and Legal Instruments for Assessing Sustainability of FennoScandinavian Forests and Their Use
Abstract: The concept and definition of sustainability, particularly of sustainable forestry from where the concept of sustainability has started from, has evolved over time in different fields and created different methods for assessing sustainability: in science, in industry and in policy. With that also different methods for assessing the state of sustainability or the impact different external drivers have on sustainability have been developed. In the forest-based sector, different methods have evolved, starting from a restricted aspect, such purely resource-based sustainability based on the non-depletion over time of standing volume of trees, and have broadened in covering additional aspects later. There are very strictly defined concepts, e.g. the sequestering of Carbon (Carbon footprint), while others are rather vague (e.g. Corporate Social Responsibility). This concept is a base for initiatives in standard development and subsequent certification (ISO, FSC, PEFC) and for international agreements or conventions serving the legislation. This means that the initiatives created voluntary and legally binding norms. These concepts and initiatives can be applied to/at different levels (regional, national, international agreements). Selected concepts even can be only applied at company level. This paper demonstrates a SWOT (Strength-Weakness-Opportunities-Threats) analysis for of assessing different aspects of sustainability. Each of them is compared against the other. Results highlight covered, overlapping and missing aspects for each concept and how they can support or reinforce each other. Special attention is given to current tools of impact assessment, particularly on their areas of application (companies, regional development, products, production practices, etc), if it is a voluntary or legally binding instrument and recommendations for supplementing it with sustainability impact assessment for regional development in Fenno-Scandinavian forests and their use.
Keywords: sustainability, CSR, legally binding norms, voluntary initiatives, certification, SIA, ISO, FSC/PEFC