ITTO member countries should cooperate to protect the tropical forest estate from illegal activities, the Organization's Executive Director, Dr. Manoel Sobral Filho, said today.
Speaking at the opening of the 31st session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC), Dr. Sobral said that while the prevention and punishment of forest crimes are the responsibility of local and national authorities, ITTO could assist by providing data and analysis and by helping to put in place the measures needed to prevent such illegal acts.
The ITTC is the governing body of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), which comprises 57 member nations and is dedicated to the conservation and sustainable development of tropical forests. The Council meets every six months to discuss all aspects of the global tropical timber economy and to approve and fund a wide-ranging project program.
Dr. Sobral proposed that the Council consider authorizing and financing case-studies on illegal logging and the illegal timber trade; an international seminar could then be held to report the findings of the case-studies. If sufficient common elements in the problems and recommended solutions were found, guidelines on preventing illegal logging and illegal trade could be developed.
Dr. Sobral cautioned, however, that concern in importing countries about illegal logging and illegal trade should not be used as a pretext for restricting the access of tropical timber into such countries. He called for a program of market access studies to provide information on developments in this area.
The Council session, which ends on 3 November, will consider a range of other issues, including the funding of new projects and activities; to date, the Organization has funded over 500 projects and activities valued at more than US$200 million. It will also receive the final report of a special ITTO mission to Indonesia, which, among other things, will recommend measures to help combat illegal logging in that country.
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