Indonesia has requested ITTO's help to strengthen the capacity of its members to address illegal logging and the undocumented timber trade.
Speaking at the opening of the 29th Session of the International Tropical Timber Council - ITTO's governing body - Dr Nur Mahmudi Ismail, Indonesia's Junior Minister of Forestry, said that illegal logging was a serious threat to Indonesian forests. Unless addressed, it would jeopardise all current efforts to promote sustainable forest management.
"In this respect, Indonesia would request ITTO to assist," he said. "We would appreciate if the Council will consider a decision to allow necessary support to strengthen the member countries' capacity to cope with illegal logging and undocumented timber trading."
Dr Nur Mahmudi also requested ITTO help in reviewing Indonesia's national forest programme, which, he said, his government was committed to doing by April 2001. This would require a rapid, intensive and participatory process.
"Allow me to appeal to this Council to provide immediate assistance to Indonesia for supporting the review and strengthening the Indonesian National Forest Programme," he said.
The Minister praised ITTO for its past assistance in helping Indonesia address forest fire, which, nonetheless, continues to be a problem of enormous magnitude in the country. ITTO previously helped Indonesia to develop national guidelines on forest fire prevention and management and has conducted specialised training in this area.
"However, the implementation of the guidelines is perhaps far from adequate," he said. "Let me appeal to members to keep the forest fires issue in the regular agenda of the session as equally important as other issues relevant to sustainable forest management."
Copies of the Minister's speech are available from: Mr. Collins Ahadome, Information Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org