A report detailing the work of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) over the past two decades was released during the opening of the 42nd session of the International Tropical Timber Council today in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The Council is the governing body of 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. In his remarks to open the Session, ITTO's Executive Director, Dr Manoel Sobral Filho, said the report on ITTO's first 20 years showed that the Organization "has been able to develop progressive, internationally agreed policies, to finance projects to assist countries in implementing such policies, and to help strengthen locally based industry and improve forest management. And ITTO has also played a constructive role in the development of totally protected areas, landscape restoration and plantation establishment, the legality of the timber trade, and community development and poverty alleviation."
The opening of the ITTC's 42nd session was honoured by the presence of the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Thomas Somare, who noted that the Council would consider reports on progress towards sustainable forest management and on forest law enforcement in his country. Prime Minister Somare also referred to PNG's lead role in seeking a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in rainforest countries. While conservation of tropical forests would play a role in stemming such emissions, sustainable forest management would also be a key component of the strategy. Prime Minister Somare noted that "in PNG we believe that good sustainable forest management systems do not lead to deforestation. It is forest land conversion to other land uses that can result in permanent loss of forest cover. For a developing country, it would not be logical to push for conservation alone since the forest resources in most nations contribute immensely towards socio-economic development."
Also speaking at the opening session were H.E. Mr. Emile Doumba, Minister of Forest Economy and Water, Fish and National Parks of Gabon and Senator Dato' Dr. Vijayaratnam S. Seevaratnam, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities of Malaysia. Both referred to the pending completion of Dr Sobral's mandate and the important decision facing the ITTC at this session in selecting the Organization's third Executive Director.
The Council will also deal with several other key issues at its 42nd session. Assistance to PNG to plan and implement a comprehensive forest inventory (a key recommendation of the recent ITTO mission to assess forest management in PNG) will be considered. The Council will receive reports on, among others, the establishment of thematic programs to guide ITTO's work, forest law enforcement in Papua New Guinea and Brazil, CITES listing of tropical timber species and linkages between deforestation and climate change. During this session, the Council will undertake its Annual Market Discussion, led by its Trade Advisory Group, on the theme "Trade in Secondary Processed Wood Products: Trends and Perspectives".
There will also be a lunchtime side event hosted by Council's Civil Society Advisory Group on "Steps Towards Sustainability in PNG".
For more information on the 42nd Council session (including the report "Making SFM Work – ITTO's First Twenty Years") and on ITTO in general, go to www.itto.or.jp.
See the Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of the session at www.iisd.ca/forestry/itto/ittc42/.