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News release

ITTO and ATO strengthen ties

Yaoundé, Cameroon, 29 May 2001

ITTO and the African Timber Organization (ATO) today took formal steps to cement cooperation on achieving sustainable forest management in Africa.

ITTO's Executive Director, Dr Manoel Sobral Filho, and Cameroon's Minister of Forests and the Environment, Mr Sylvestre Naah Ondoua, signed an agreement to cooperate on the implementation of principles, criteria and indicators for the sustainable management of African forests. The signing took place during the 30th session of the International Tropical Timber Council, which is meeting here this week.

Criteria and indicators have been devised to assist countries in assessing and monitoring the status of sustainable forest management. While sets exist for tropical, temperate and boreal forests at a global level, more work needs to be done to adapt them to local and regional conditions. A workshop convened last week co-hosted by ITTO and ATO and attended by high-level African forestry officers endorsed a set of refined and harmonised ATO/ITTO criteria and indicators for African forests and recommended their approval by the two organisations. This cooperation agreement will facilitate further collaboration in this regard.

The agreement also outlines the setting up of an ITTO-ATO cooperation mechanism to monitor and evaluate sustainable forest management, and a mechanism to encourage external financial support for the implementation of the principles, criteria and indicators. Sustainable forest management of Africa's tropical forests is high on the agenda of the ITTC and was the focus of statements made by the Prime Minister of Cameroon and ministers from Cote d'Ivoire, Congo and Ghana at the opening session.

For more information contact Mr Emmanuel Ze Meka, ITTO Secretariat, itto@itto.or.jp or the secretariat of the African Timber Organization, oab-gabon@internetgabon.com