AASF Glossary of terms


Accreditation is a specific organisation’s process of certificationi.e. the act of granting credit or recognition for a particular status or activity. According to the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO), accreditation is the formal recognition by an independent body (generally known as an accreditation body) that a certification body operates according to international standards. Certification is thus a result of the accreditation process. 


A baseline refers to a minimum starting point used for comparisons. In the context of the AASF, a baseline may be used to compare against an indicator 


Benchmark refers to a point of reference against which things may be compared i.e. a reference period.  


Biodiversity refers to biological diversity, the variety of living things found in a particular place which may be defined in size from micro (an acre on one farm) to macro (the variety of creatures present in a country or on the whole planet); i.e. the variety of different plants, animals and micro-organisms and the ecosystems of which they are a part. Species richness (the count of species in a given area) is the most commonly understood measure of biodiversity, for example numbers of birds/species per hectare; however the term also encompasses genetic variety within species and the variety of and within ecosystems created by species. 

Best management practice (BMP) 

Agricultural best management practices (BMPs) are actions taken by agricultural producers to improve their long-term productivity, profitability and sustainability. While ‘management practice’ is a generic term, BMP is understood to refer to specific programs (usually industry-led) which enable producers to benchmark their practices against industry standards, identify opportunities to improve their business performance and demonstrate good stewardship of resources (animals, land, water) to consumers. 


Certification is the formal attestation or confirmation of certain characteristics via the provision of an official document to someone (a person) or something (an organisation). This confirmation is often supported by an external review, assessment or audit. Accreditation is an action of the certification process. 


Criteria refer to the conditions which need to be met in order to comply with a principle.   


An indicator is the measurable state/s which allow the assessment of whether or not a particular criterion has been met i.e. they ‘indicate’ whether a criteria as been met or not.  


Originally meaning “beyond”, in current vernacular ‘meta’ refers to that concerning or providing information about members of its own category (e.g. meta-data is data about data). In this context, a meta-standard refers to an overarching standard which informs other related standards, specifically in the field of agricultural biodiversity and sustainability. 


The unit used to measure an indicator. For example, a metric for the indicator of carbon may be million grams per hectare of C or Co2e. 


PCI refers to ‘principle, criteria and indicator structure of a framework (please refer to relevant definitions for each of these terms). This is a common structure used in sustainability frameworks globally.  


The fundamental statements about a desired outcome. This statement is the aspirational (but achievable) goal of the agricultural sector in the sustainability journey.  


In the context of this work, program refers to any sustainability and/or environmental stewardship initiatives currently implemented or being developed in the agricultural/land management space. This may include but is not limited to: schemes, frameworks, certifications and BMPs.  


The obvious definition of sustainability is the ability to be sustainedi.e. maintained or supported into the foreseeable future. The common understanding now prevalent (derived from the Brundtland Report of 1987) is the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainability is comprised of three pillars: ecological, human, and economic health or vitality (sometimes referred to as planet, people, profit). Sustainability presumes that resources are finite, and should be used wisely with a view to long-term consequences and priorities. 


specified goal or objective relating to a sustainability outcome. Sustainability targets will not to be determined by the AASF. The AASF may provide a pathway for achieving and demonstrating success towards a sustainability target set by industry of the market.   


More general than certification, verification refers to a process which delivers evidence that establishes or confirms the accuracy, validity or truth of something (e.g. a claim or practice). 

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