The impact of forest degradation and deforestation on climate change, together with wildlife trafficking from tropical forests, are issues facing the International Tropical Timber Council as it begins its 41st session today in Yokohama, Japan.
The Council is the governing body of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). It meets regularly to discuss a wide-ranging agenda aimed at promoting sustainable tropical forest management and the trade of sustainably produced tropical timber.
The issues of forest degradation/deforestation and wildlife trafficking will be taken up by the Council in its deliberations on draft decisions submitted by members. According to ITTO's Executive Director, Dr Manoel Sobral Filho, "Reducing the loss of natural tropical forests, particularly that caused by illegal deforestation, is certainly an important part of ensuring the continuity of timber supply and the expansion and diversification of international tropical trade, as called for in the [International Tropical Timber Agreement]. These draft decisions…are highly relevant to the Organization's mandate." This view was echoed by the Council Chairman, Mr Koichi Ito, in his opening remarks to the Council, noting the continuing destruction of tropical forests and ITTO's unique position for promoting sustainable forest management.
Also speaking at the opening session was the Mayor of the City of Yokohama, Mr Hiroshi Nakada, who expressed Yokohama's continued support for ITTO, and H.E. Dr Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Cameroon, who called on ITTO consumer countries to conform to the provisions of the Bali accord and guarantee fair and equitable prices for timber originating from sustainably managed forests.
Ambassador Jörg Al. Reding, Director of Economic Development Cooperation, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, Switzerland, stressed his country's continued support for ITTO, particularly in light of the new objectives and scope of the International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA), 2006, which his country is preparing to ratify.
The Council will also deal with several other key issues as its 41st session. Procedures to ensure a smooth transition to both a new Executive Director and the new ITTA agreed in January of this year will be put in place. The Council will receive reports on, among others, forest law enforcement in Brazil and Ecuador, implementing the CITES Appendix II listing of ramin and promotion of sustainable forest management (SFM) in the Congo Basin. Also during this session, the Council will review progress in its 2006–07 Work Programme, consider measures to strengthen the project cycle and assess the world timber situation.
There will also be several lunchtime side events, including on Japan's public procurement policy for timber, forest management and harvesting in Central Africa and community rights over tropical forest resources.
For more information on the Council session (including a link to daily reporting by the Environmental News Bulletin – ENB), and on ITTO in general, go to www.itto.or.jp.