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News release

ITTO offers support for African initiative

Yokohama, Japan, 20 September 2000

ITTO is ready to assist the African Timber Organization in implementing its 'Initiative on Principles, Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Management of African Forests'.

This is the pledge of ITTO's Executive Director, Dr Sobral, ahead of the ATO's Ministerial Conference to be held in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, in October.

Dr Sobral said that ITTO pioneered the development of guidelines and criteria and indicators for the sustainable management of tropical forests in the 1990s and is now pressing ahead with putting these benchmarks into practice in the forest.

"We have embarked upon a program of international workshops to train trainers in the comprehensive use of ITTO's manuals for the application of the criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management," he said. "We also have a comprehensive project program that aims to introduce the various elements of sustainable forest management in the field."

The African Timber Organization has a membership of 13 countries, including eight of the nine ITTO producing member countries in Africa. Dr Sobral said that this underscored the crucial role that ITTO member countries could play in ensuring the success of the ATO initiative to test, verify and apply criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management.

"This is a very positive and exciting initiative. It deserves the full support of all people and institutions committed to the conservation and sustainable management and development of tropical forests in Africa," he said. "And I believe it would benefit from close cooperation with organizations such as ITTO."

Dr. Sobral, who will attend the Ministerial meeting in Brazzaville, said that ITTO resources could be made available through the International Tropical Timber Council to help put the Initiative into practice.

"Through our own work we have gained wide-ranging experience in applying criteria and indicators that could be useful to the ATO. In addition, ITTO member countries could consider formulating project proposals that support the Initiative. In fact, both Gabon and Cameroon are already implementing ITTO-funded projects designed to develop and apply criteria and indicators at the national level."

For more information contact: Mr Collins Ahadome, Information Officer, itto@itto.or.jp