Sustainable tropical forest use essential for biodiversity conservation— ITTO Executive Director

18 May 2023

Village training in nursery and tissue culture provided by an ITTO project in Thailand. More attention should be given to productive forests as means for conserving biodiversity. Photo: Royal Forest Department

Yokohama, Japan, 18 May 2023: More attention should be given to productive forests as means for conserving biodiversity, ITTO Executive Director Sheam Satkuru told a side-event held during the 18th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests in New York last week.

“The creation of fully protected areas is clearly important, but it is only one element in effective biodiversity conservation strategies,” said Ms Satkuru. 

“In most tropical countries, it is essential for people to use forests productively as a means for reducing poverty and boosting economies. ITTO believes 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 these forests host.”

The side-event, which was organized by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UNFF Secretariat, was held on Monday 8 May. It explored the interlinkages between the Kunming–Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), as well as the Global Forest Goals (GFGs) and associated targets articulated in the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017–2030. 

Ms Satkuru said the ITTO/IUCN Guidelines for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Tropical Timber Production Forests, published in 2009, was a landmark document that described best practices in production forests to minimize risks to biodiversity.

“The eleven principles set out in these guidelines provide policymakers and forest managers with vital guidance on the actions they can take to improve biodiversity conservation and sustainably use their forests,” she said.

Ms Satkuru referred to the ITTO–CBD Collaborative Initiative for Tropical Forest Biodiversity, which had supported 16 projects in 23 tropical countries between 2010 and 2020. For example, the initiative had trained more than 400 foresters in Central Africa in sustainable forest management and improved biodiversity conservation in the Amazon within a framework of ecologically responsible forest management. 

A key need for encouraging biodiversity conservation in tropical production forests was increased resource mobilization, Ms Satkuru said. 

“More investment is needed to continue encouraging the uptake of sustainable forest management in production forests and to restore degraded areas,” she said. “This will both reduce pressure on protected areas and generate environmental and socioeconomic benefits for local people and national economies. Sustainable forestry is one of the most powerful tools we have to protect the extraordinary biodiversity contained in tropical forests.”

Ms Satkuru said ITTO is fully aligned with the GFGs and the GBF, including in its current Strategic Action Plan 2022–2026.