A report on the progress made in transboundary cooperation between Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Thailand under a long-running project conducted as part of the ITTO–CBD Collaborative Initiative for Tropical Forest Biodiversity was launched today at the 53rd session of the International Tropical Timber Council in Lima, Peru.
The aim of the transboundary project is to improve the conservation and management of the Emerald Triangle Protected Forests Complex, part of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot and one of the world’s most important centres of biodiversity. The project, which began as an ITTO initiative in 2000, has worked to develop a common transboundary management framework for a group of protected areas along the borders shared by the three countries.
“The Emerald Triangle is one of the most important biodiversity conservation landscapes in Southeast Asia,” said Sapol Boonsermsuk, a delegate of Thailand at the Council session and also one of the authors of the report.
“It provides habitat for several endangered species and is also home to many people whose livelihoods are highly dependent on the natural resources,” he said.
“In a region where few intact forests remain, the importance of this transboundary project cannot be overstated,” said David Cooper, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, in a video shown during the plenary of the Council.
“The project will enable large endangered mammals such as tigers, serow, banteng and gaur to sustain their populations,” he said. “The project is thus a major contribution, not only in the battle against the loss of biodiversity but also the battle against climate change.”
The ITTO–CBD Collaborative Initiative for Tropical Forest Biodiversity, which has been underway since 2011, is designed to enhance biodiversity in tropical forests with the direct participation of local stakeholders and to address the main drivers of biodiversity loss in tropical forests. To date, the initiative has involved an investment of more than US$15 million in eleven field projects.
The report is entitled “The Bright green hotspot: outcomes of the Emerald Triangle Protected Forests Complex project, 2000–2016”.
ITTO–CITES Programme, IUFRO, and Fellowship Programme
Also today, the Secretariat presented a report to Council on the ITTO–CITES Programme for Implementing CITES Listings of Tropical Timber Species, a partnership between ITTO and CITES—the treaty for regulating trade in endangered species—that has been running for more than ten years. Milena Sosa Schmidt of the CITES Secretariat also addressed the Council.
Delegates from Cameroon, Panama and Peru spoke in praise of the ITTO–CITES Programme and requested ongoing ITTO support for it.
A delegate from the USA indicated that her country would continue to support CITES cooperation through ITTO.
“ITTO has been instrumental in the action to protect tree species traded under CITES,” she said. “ITTO’s long-term technical expertise and direct connections with key forestry actors on the ground enabled effective support and oversight of this programme.”
A delegate of the EU informed the Council that the EU was providing the CITES Secretariat with EUR 7 million to implement the CITES Tree Species Programme, and she encouraged other ITTO members to consider making financial contributions to ensure continuation of the partnership between CITES and ITTO.
“Although CITES is now the implementing agency of the European Union, we expect that ITTO will remain a key partner,” she said.
A representative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) gave a presentation to the Council about his organization’s role in coordinating forest research globally, touching on collaboration with ITTO, including in the recently published global teak study.
The ITTO Secretariat presented a progress report on the ITTO Fellowship Programme and showed a video made by an ITTO Fellow, Thais A. Lima, on her research on selective logging in the Brazilian Amazon.
Committees and groups to meet today included the Council’s three technical committees and its Committee on Finance and Administration; the Chairperson’s Consultation with Donors on Project Financing; the contact group to discuss the report of the Ad Hoc Working Group to Consider Rotation in the Framework of the Selection of the Executive Director Established Pursuant to Decision 9(LII); and the Chairperson’s Open-Ended Drafting Group.
Side-event on local livelihoods
A side-event organized by ITTO’s Civil Society Advisory Group held at lunchtime today heard from a number of speakers about the efforts of local communities in tropical forests to engage in the harvesting, processing and trade of timber and non-timber forest products. The audience heard about ITTO projects that have helped local communities in Indonesia, Central Africa and Peru to develop links between their forests and the marketplace. ITTO was urged to continue to support local capacity building, especially among women, to ensure that local and indigenous communities can benefit economically from the goods and ecosystem services their forests provide.
The International Tropical Timber Council meets at least once a year to discuss a wide-ranging agenda aimed at promoting sustainable tropical forest management and the trade of sustainably produced tropical timber.
Daily coverage of the session by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin is available at http://enb.iisd.org/forestry/itto/ittc53/