ITTO supported a participatory process for
managing Guyana's Iwokrama Forest. Photo:

Proper planning at all levels is an essential component of sustainable forest management. In his recent book, Changing Landscapes, Duncan Poore stresses the importance of land-use planning as a first tier in this process:
"we should stop shedding crocodile tears about the loss of forest in general and direct attention to the more important questions of how much forest we need or want, what kinds of forests these should be, where they should be situated and how they should be preserved and managed. … the selection and establishment of a permanent forest estate … is perhaps the most important single measure that a country can take to preserve its forests for the future and to provide a buffer against future changes."

ITTO stressed the importance of national land-use planning in its Guidelines for the sustainable management of natural tropical forests, which it published in 1992. Since then it has funded a large number of projects to assist national governments to formulate land-use policies and plans in a participatory way. In Peru, for example, an ITTO project assisted the government to formulate a new forest law with the participation of industry, conservation and community interests.

Land-use planning should also take place sub-nationally. An ITTO project in Bolivia, for example, has supported the formulation of a forest development plan at the departmental level. At the local level, an ITTO project in Guyana undertook a participatory process to determine how the Iwokrama Forest should be used - which areas should be set aside for conservation, and which should be managed for timber and other forest products.

Once a forest has been designated for production, a forest management plan should be developed. ITTO had funded numerous projects to assist forest managers in this task, which can be time-consuming and costly and includes carrying out inventories of forest resources, facilitating the participation of local communities, and a range of other activities. Once a forest management plan has been agreed, its implementation faces many challenges; ITTO projects are providing assistance in this, too.

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 planning.