ITTO reiterates support for CITES on World Wildlife Day

3 March 2023

Yokohama, Japan, 3 March 2023: In remarks for World Wildlife Day, ITTO Executive Director Sheam Satkuru highlighted ITTO’s significant efforts to sustain tropical forest wildlife and stressed the value of collaboration between ITTO and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for the conservation of threatened tropical tree species.

World Wildlife Day is held each March to celebrate the contributions of wild animals and plants to our lives and to planetary health.

ITTO works directly with its member countries to conserve wildlife and biodiversity in tropical forests through sustainable forest management (SFM). This work involves developing policies at the international level to support SFM and funding projects to assist members in adapting such policies to local circumstances and piloting them in their forests. The aim of a long-running collaborative initiative between ITTO and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is to support CBD Parties and ITTO member countries in their efforts to conserve biodiversity, implement sustainable forest management, restore degraded forest landscapes and encourage the sustainable use of forest resources. ITTO has also adopted—and assists countries to implement—Guidelines for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Tropical Production Forests. And it has helped establish a network of transboundary conservation areas throughout the tropics which provide protection for many wildlife species.

ITTO supports the conservation and improved management of endangered and threatened tropical tree species. ITTO and CITES have worked closely together for more than two decades, including by jointly implementing programmes between 2007 and 2022 to improve the management of tropical tree species such as big-leaf mahogany, ramin, agarwood-producing species, afrormosia, ebony and rosewoods listed in CITES Appendix II.

The ongoing collaborative work between ITTO and CITES “is an excellent example of how international organizations and the global community can come together to ensure that these iconic tree species continue to provide their myriad benefits to humanity and the many other wildlife species that depend on them,” said Ms Satkuru in her statement.

ITTO and CITES launched a joint report on agarwood at the 19th Conference of the Parties to CITES (COP19), held in Panama in November 2022. Agarwood, which is produced mainly from species in the genera Aquilaria and Gyrinops, is highly valued for its fragrance, and it is used to produce incense, perfumes and various other products. High agarwood prices led to unsustainable levels of extraction, which, in turn, led to the listing of all species of Aquilaria and Gyrinops in CITES Appendix II in 2004. The new report informed discussions on agarwood at COP19, which requested the CITES Plants Committee to consider potential revisions to provisions for agarwood contained in the listing.

ITTO and CITES also collaborated on a recent study in Ecuador to generate baseline information for the formulation of public policies on forest conservation, planning and management, with an emphasis on mahogany. The study was carried out by Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition in cooperation with the San Francisco de Quito University and the National Institute for Biodiversity, and the results will be reported in a forthcoming edition of the Tropical Forest Update.

Watch Ms Satkuru’s message here.