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News release

Meeting on forests to benefit Congolese

Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, 18 June 2005


Azobe tree, Pokola, Northern Congo.
Photo: ITTO

A meeting starting here this week could provide grants worth up to US$2.1 million to assist sustainable forest management in the Republic of Congo.

The International Tropical Timber Council is the governing body of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). It meets twice a year to develop policies for sustainable forest management and to promote the international trade of tropical timber; the 38th session of the Council convenes at the Palais de Parlement on 19–21 June.

ITTO is an intergovernmental organization with 59 members, including nine countries in Central and West Africa. Since 1987 the Organization has provided grants worth about US$270 million to fund over 600 projects designed to promote sustainable forest management, conservation and sustainable development.

According to Mr. Henri Djombo, Minister for Forestry Economics, ITTO plays an important role in forestry in Central and West Africa.

"Over its life ITTO has supported 142 projects in Africa with grants worth more than US$50 million," he said.

"Projects now under way in the region employ about 100 African professionals on a full-time basis. This is a valuable contribution. But the Organization can and must do more."

The Organization's Executive Director, Dr Manoel Sobral Filho, believes that ITTO is well-placed to assist the countries of the region in implementing sustainable forest management.

"The core priority for ITTO is to help tropical countries to develop and benefit from their natural forest resources," he said.

"It is very encouraging to see that the Congo Basin heads of state are collaborating to promote conservation and sustainable use of forests in the region. The Yaounde Process and the recently concluded treaty on the conservation and sustainable management of forest ecosytems in Central Africa form an excellent basis for increasingly stronger cooperation."

According to Council Chairman, Mr Alhassan Attah (Ghana), ITTO is looking to assist these efforts by financing complementary projects in the region, including in the Republic of Congo.

"At this session the Council will review three projects submitted by Republic of Congo," he said.

"I am hopeful that some of these projects will be funded at this session. This would provide up to $2.1 million to support sustainable forest development in the country."

In total, the Council will consider for funding some 65 projects with a total value of US$28 million, including US$6.5 million worth in Africa.

For more information on the Council session visit the ITTO website (www.itto.or.jp).