ITTO projects feature in UNFF event on biodiversity conservation in tropical production forests

17 May 2023

Indochinese tiger. Photo: Chheang Dany

Yokohama, Japan, 17 May 2023: Successful ITTO projects show the crucial role sustainable forest management can play in conserving biodiversity and achieving global biodiversity targets, according to ITTO Executive Director Sheam Satkuru, speaking at an ITTO-hosted side-event during the 18th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests last week.

Ms Satkuru, who moderated the event, said millions of people in the tropics relied on the productive use of forests for their livelihoods. It is imperative, therefore, to manage forests sustainably to maximize their contributions to biodiversity conservation.

“In diverse ITTO-funded projects, we have shown that it is possible to both use forests for the production of timber and other goods and services and conserve the vast majority of the biodiversity those forests host,” she said.

Such projects, some of which were presented during the side-event, were designed according to principles set out in the ITTO/IUCN Guidelines for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Tropical Timber Production Forests.

Speaking at the event, Jamal Annagylyjova from the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) outlined the forest goals of the Kunming–Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which are to reduce the loss of highly biodiverse areas by 2030 and restore 30% of degraded forests while also expanding the network of protected areas in forests. Enhancing collaboration and synergies between the CBD, other conventions and international organizations, as well as initiatives like the ITTO–CBD Collaborative Initiative for Tropical Forest Biodiversity, will be essential for capacity building and education, Ms Annagylyjova said.

Forest biodiversity expert Ian Thompson presented the key outcomes of an assessment of the Joint ITTO–CBD Collaborative Initiative for Tropical Forest Biodiversity. Launched in 2011, this initiative has been implemented in 23 countries across Africa, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia, with a budget of USD 13.4 million provided by Belgium, Japan, Switzerland, the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, and the CBD. Dr Thompson spoke about the prospects for scaling up the initiative with a focus on strategically impactful projects in protected areas, including transboundary regions and buffer zones associated with production forestry. He said the assessment concluded that, despite limited funding, the Collaborative Initiative has been highly effective and efficient, and it has had positive impacts on all the Global Forest Goals. Even small-scale projects have the potential to greatly benefit local communities by improving livelihoods, he said.

Prof Yongyut Trisurat from Kasetsart University, Thailand, provided an overview of the achievements of a long-running ITTO project on the management of the Emerald Triangle Protected Forests Complex, a transboundary conservation area between Thailand, Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The project, which commenced in 2001 and concluded in 2016, enhanced the protection of habitats for a wide range of species within the Emerald Triangle. Professor Trisurat highlighted various other positive outcomes of the project, including a reduction in border disputes between Thailand and Cambodia and increases in cooperation, trust and the capacity of protected-area staff and local communities.

Milton Kanashiro from the Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research (EMBRAPA) delivered a presentation via video entitled, “Smallholder community forest management initiatives in Para State, Brazil: a collaborative framework for sustainable production”.  He spoke about the importance of empowering community forest management in timber production, supported by partners in public education and trainers in reduced impact logging. Sustainable forest management through community forestry is vital for economic growth, local community development, biodiversity conservation and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, said Dr Kanashiro.

In the discussion that followed the presentations, side-event participants acknowledged the importance of implementing sustainable forest management plans, including biodiversity conservation plans; research on aquaculture biodiversity assessment; the effective engagement of local communities and engagement of local communities, including by increasing tenure security; and scaling up private-sector investment.

In summing up, Ms Satkuru said ITTO, with its extensive experience in sustainable forest management, is committed to working with tropical countries to meet development needs and biodiversity conservation. ITTO has documented evidence to show that production forests are capable of effectively conserving and hosting biodiversity.

Download the side-event presentations