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News release

ITTO to send mission to Congo Basin

Yaoundé, Cameroon, 2 June 2001

ITTO is to send a mission to the five ITTO-member Congo Basin countries to strengthen sustainable forest management and forest protection, following a decision made today by the International Tropical Timber Council.

In a related move, the Council also approved projects worth about US$2 million to support forest management and conservation in Congo Basin countries, with the immediate release of about US$1 million in funding.

The Congo Basin comprises Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, and the Central African Republic. It contains one-quarter of the world's rainforests and is home to more than half of Africa's biological diversity, including the forest elephant and lowland gorilla.

The Council, which has been meeting here this week, requested ITTO's Executive Director to organise a mission to the Congo Basin countries to "assist them in implementing, through sub-regional cooperation, those aspects of the Yaounde Declaration which coincide with the objectives of the ITTO". One of the elements of this will be to empower indigenous people and local communities and to involve them in the processes and benefits of sustainable forest management, sustainable development and forest protection. The Yaounde Declaration was signed in March 1999 by the Congo Basin countries, committing them to conserve large parts of their forest resource.

The Council made several other important decisions to further the work of the Organization. It agreed to fund 25 projects, pre-projects and activities worth about US$9 million, including four to be implemented in Congo Basin countries. One will boost management of the Mefou and Afamba Valley forest near Yaounde. Another will help improve training at Cameroon's Mbalmayo National School of Forestry.

For more information contact: Dr Eva Mueller, ITTO Secretariat, itto@itto.or.jp