The International Tropical Timber Council*, which is meeting here this week, has adopted a revised set of criteria and indicators for the sustainable management of natural tropical forests.
Criteria and indicators are a tool for monitoring, assessing and reporting on forest management. They identify the main elements of sustainable forest management and provide forest managers and policymakers with a way of assessing changes and trends in forest conditions and management systems over time.
Criteria and indicators can be used at the level of the forest management unit and also at the national level, and are being used by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) in the production of its 'Status of Tropical Forest Management Report', which will be published next year.
According to Dr Juergen Blaser, who chaired an ITTO panel of forest management experts that revised the criteria and indicators, the new set is greatly simplified and shortened.
"Forest managers are busy people," he said. "If these kinds of tools are too complicated then they won't be used. So we have reduced the number of conditions that we want forest managers to monitor and report, and we have simplified the instructions for doing so."
The seven original criteria have been retained, with some changes in language to harmonize them with other international initiatives. The number of reporting items has been reduced from 89 to 56, and some of those retained have been amended.
ITTO has an ongoing program of national-level training workshops to introduce its criteria and indicators to forest practitioners in tropical countries. To date, 13 workshops have been convened, providing training to nearly 600 professionals responsible for or working in forest management units. The next workshop will be held in Guatemala in the first half of 2005.
The head of Guatemala's National Forest Institute (Instituto Nacional de Bosques), Luis Ernesto Barrera Garavito, signed an agreement with ITTO this week to host the training workshop (see photo). He said that the revised criteria and indicators, which will be used in the workshop, will help the practical application of sustainable forest management.
"We have a small but dedicated forest service in Guatemala, and forestry is an important sector of the economy," he said.
"We appreciate ITTO's efforts to make international best-practice accessible to all those with a stake in using and conserving our forest resources."
The revised criteria and indicators will be published in English, French and Spanish in March 2005.
*The Council is the governing body of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the conservation and sustainable management, use and trade of tropical forest resources.
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