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News release

ITTO commits more resources to sustainable forest management

Yokohama, Japan, 9 November 2003

The International Tropical Timber Council has pledged more than US$6.6 million for initiatives promoting sustainable forest management, greater transparency in the tropical timber trade and the development of sustainable tropical forest-based industries.

The pledges were made at the Council's 33rd session, which ended here today. It included commitments to finance 24 new projects and scoping studies in all of the Organization's main areas of work, as well as seven decisions.

One project financed at this session will develop a strategy for the sustainable management of secondary forests in central Peru, enabling an immediate application of the ITTO Guidelines for the Restoration, Management and Rehabilitation of Degraded and Secondary Forests, which were published recently. Another project will create a program to facilitate and promote the adoption of reduced impact logging in Indonesia and the Asia-Pacific region, another will assist the certification of sustainable forest management in Indonesia, and another will establish a national system for the collection, entry, processing and dissemination of forestry and timber statistical data in Togo.

The Council also decided to make available to tropical countries the services of forest fire experts who will work with local fire management staff to devise appropriate strategies for preventing and managing fire. These will include measures such as public awareness campaigns in rural areas, the use of appropriate technologies in fire management, and the improvement of land management practices that minimize the risk of wildfire. The fire experts will also help develop fire management proposals for funding by the international community, including through ITTO.

The Council decided to finance joint action by civil society organizations and private-sector tropical timber producers to strengthen forest management and achieve environmental certification. The decision provides seed money to facilitate partnerships between timber producers and civil society organizations that will both guide forest practice and increase market access for the timber produced under such partnerships. It will particularly emphasize partnerships involving small-scale enterprises and community-based forest managers, local and national civil society organizations, and forest owners.

During the Session, the Council took its first steps towards the renegotiation of a successor agreement to the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1994, under which the Organization currently operates and which will expire at the end of 2006.The Council adopted a schedule for the Preparatory Committee meetings and renegotiations and decided to convene a working group on the matter in the first months of 2003. This working group will identify issues to be addressed in negotiating a successor agreement and analyse the potential changes to the ITTA, 1994.

For more information contact: Mr Alastair Sarre, Editor & Communications Manager, editor@itto.or.jp.