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News release

ITTO takes action in Africa

Denpasar, Indonesia, 18 May 2002

Two decisions made by the International Tropical Timber Council at its 32nd session, which ended here today, will provide impetus for efforts towards sustainable management in the forests of West Africa.

The decisions came in the wake of ITTO missions to the Congo Basin countries, which recommended a range of activities that ITTO could undertake to support work towards sustainable forest management and the development of sustainable forest-based industries.

The Council decided to contribute to the development of a regional strategy aimed at improving the management of forest concessions based on the suite of ITTO guidelines. Particular attention will be paid to the impact of industrial timber logging on local communities and to transboundary sites identified as high priorities for biological diversity conservation.

The Council further requested the Executive Director, Dr Sobral, to convene a workshop to develop a regional applied research program and to identify research activities focusing on social, economic and environmental aspects of tropical forest management and trade.

In a separate decision, the Council decided that ITTO should participate in the forthcoming ministerial conference on forest law enforcement in Africa. It further decided to undertake a data collection initiative for the forests of the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo aimed at improving forest concession management and ensuring the conservation of protected areas. This initiative will be carried out in partnership with the governments of the countries concerned, the non-governmental organization Global Forest Watch, and other stakeholders. A work program for the initiative is to be submitted to the next session of the Council, which will be held in Yokohama in November 2002.

In addition to these decisions, the Council financed a project to assist African countries in implementing and monitoring sustainable forest management through the application of the ITTO/African Timber Organization regional criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. The first stage of phase 1 of the project is worth US$634,000; the three phases combined will be worth more than US$3.5 million.

For more information contact: Mr Collins Ahadome, ITTO Secretariat; itto@itto.or.jp