Forest biological diversity is affected by a large number of natural and anthropogenic factors and these factors are often interlinked, resulting in synergistic changes to forest ecosystems. As the drivers of forest change are complex and that changes to forest biological diversity can be difficult to monitor, foresters, scientists and policy makers are increasingly relying on indicators
to help guide decision making.
Forest indicators are tools which summarize and communicate complex information and allow for the monitoring and examination of the status and trends of forest biodiversity through time. A variety of forest biodiversity indicators, including the percentage of forest area protected, the change in abundance of selected species, the number of threatened and endangered forest species and the percentage of forest area managed for conservation, exist. Indicators are important information tools as they allow for sound decision making and link science to policy. For these reasons forest indicators have become an integral component of sustainable forest management.
While forest indicators have improved greatly much work remains to be done. The continued development and refinement of indicators is crucial given the vital role that they play in the policy process and in helping to protect and conserve forest biological diversity.