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News release

Council delivers a further US$7.6 million for field action in tropical forests

Yokohama, Japan, 8 November 2003

ITTO's transboundary conservation program received a boost today with the financing of a project that will link the Pulong Tau National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia with the Kayan Mentarang National Park in Indonesia.

The project was one of more than 36 projects, pre-projects and other activities financed to the amount of US$7.6 million in grants by the International Tropical Timber Council at its 35th Session this week.

The Council is the governing body of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), an intergovernmental agency promoting the sustainable management, use, trade and conservation of tropical forest resources. It has an active portfolio of about 180 projects throughout the tropics.

Under the new transboundary conservation project, the 65,000-hectare Pulong Tau National Park will be extended to cover an area of about 165,000 hectares to include some ecologically important forests and Sarawak's highest mountain, Mt Murad. The extension will also join the park to the 1.3 million-hectare Kayan Mentarang National Park (the management of which is also supported by ITTO) on the Indonesian side of the border.

The establishment of the new transboundary park will improve protection for several endangered species including Bulwer's pheasant, the clouded leopard and the Sumartran rhinoceros, while also working with local communities to manage the wider rural landscape and increasing trans-border cooperation on issues such as illegal trade and immigration. ITTO's transboundary conservation program is providing protection to more than 10 million hectares of tropical forest in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Another project approved and financed by Council this week will test an innovative approach to plantations in Ghana in which native and exotic species are grown in mixes to provide a range of forest products and services. Another project, in Colombia, will work with rural communities to increase the benefits accruing to them from sustainable forest management. And another, in Venezuela, will upgrade and strengthen the national forest statistics information system there.

Also at the Session the Council approved a work program setting out the Organization's activities for 2004-2005. Besides managing its large field project program, the Organization will, among other things, conduct ten national workshops to promote the implementation of its Guidelines for the Restoration, Management and Rehabilitation of Degraded and Secondary Tropical Forests, convene a workshop to strengthen the capacity in Bolivia, Brazil and Peru to implement the recent listing of mahogany on the CITES Appendix II, co-sponsor an international symposium on the impacts of forest certification on developing countries, organize forums to promote private investment in forest management and forest industry, and cooperate with FAO on the development and dissemination of guidelines for improving law compliance in the forest sector.

Funds for the work program, as well as for projects and pre-projects, were provided at this session by the governments of Japan, the United States, Switzerland, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Finland, Australia and Sweden. Funds were also mobilized from the Organization's Bali Partnership Fund and Special Account.

Daily reports of the 35th Session of the International Tropical Timber Council are available at the website of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (www.iisd.ca). For more information contact: Alastair Sarre, Editor & Communications Manager, editor@itto.or.jp