Biodiversity & transboundary conservation

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Madidi National Park, the focus of ITTO project
PD 17/00. Photo: J. Nations, CI

Though they cover only 5% of the globe, tropical forests are thought to harbour more than half the world's terrestrial plant and animal species. This biodiversity performs many useful functions, including helping to maintain forest health and productivity.

In the early 1990s, ITTO worked with IUCN – the World Conservation Union to develop the ITTO guidelines for the conservation of biological diversity in tropical production forests. The guidelines were published in 1993. These set out the reasons for making biodiversity conservation a goal of national forest policy and show ways to establish a permanent forest estate integrating conservation areas with natural and planted production forests.

The guidelines provide advice on planning at the landscape level, such as linking reserves with corridors of natural forest to allow wildlife to move between reserves. At the field level, they present principles and actions to maximise biodiversity conservation during management activities.

ITTO's action program takes a dual approach to the conservation of biodiversity. First, it aims to reduce the loss of biodiversity associated with the extraction of forest products and services, particularly timber, through improved forest management (see, for example, planning and reduced impact logging). Second, it assists member countries to set aside and manage totally protected areas. In particular, ITTO supports more than 10 million hectares of transboundary conservation areas, in which two or more countries cooperate in the management and conservation of ecologically important areas straddling borders.

After more than a decade of implementation, ITTO has initiated the revision of the guidelines. The revision will be preceded by field tests in some selected tropical countries.

For a detailed account of ITTO's action agenda, please refer to the ITTO Action Plan 2008-2011, or click on Resources and Project portfolio to see more about ITTO's work on biodiversity & transboundary conservation.