The institutions created to address the problems associated with forest utilisation, degradation and destruction internationally have ranged from hard laws, put in place by governments through legislation, to soft law mechanisms such as forest certification. Each of these standards requires enforcement and evaluation through monitoring and information reporting. Despite differing levels of legalisation, the monitoring and information reporting requirements documented in hard and soft law mechanisms can reveal considerable crossover. It is therefore important to identify where hard laws are adequate for individual SFM situations and where soft laws are performing better, with a view to identifying overlaps that affect the efficiency, cost effectiveness and level of confidence in the monitoring process. This paper presents a basic theoretical background to SFM and discusses two important characteristics, namely adaptive management and monitoring. The hard and soft law mechanisms available to forest policy makers are addressed and, finally, the role of stakeholders and the wider operating environment in forestry-related monitoring is considered.
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