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News release

ITTO to help producers develop certification

Yaoundé, Cameroon, 2 June 2001

ITTO is to assist its producer member countries to build capacity in voluntary certification, following a decision by the International Tropical Timber Council.

Forest certification, which is a way of guaranteeing to consumers that a forest is well managed, is becoming an important requirement for those timber producers wanting to sell their products in international markets.

The Council, which has been convening its 30th session here this week, heard earlier from Cote d'Ivoire's Minister of Water and Forests, Ms Angele Boka Agoussi, who called on ITTO to make certification a priority in its work.

Ms Agoussi said that certification could help strengthen the sustainable management of tropical forests, but the socio-economic and cultural realities in many tropical countries make its immediate application extremely difficult. She said that there was a need to strengthen national capacity to support certification and to investigate the impact of certification on the competitiveness of tropical timber.

The decision by Council calls for members to submit project proposals for building capacity for certification. A workshop to be financed from ITTO's Bali Partnership Fund - currently comprising contributions from the governments of Japan, Switzerland and the United States - will also be held to review progress being made regarding the comparability and equivalence of certification schemes. A broad range of stakeholders will meet to: discuss the principles, frameworks, and elements of certification schemes; identify principles and critical elements relevant to the development of standards for certification; review progress being made towards comparability and equivalence of certification schemes; and obtain the perspective of buyers groups towards certification. The workshop will also assist members in developing suitable project proposals for ITTO funding.

For more information contact: Mr Amha bin Buang, ITTO Secretariat, itto@itto.or.jp