ITTO is “part of the plan” on the International Day for Biological Diversity

22 May 2024

Together for biodiversity conservation. ITTO’s field work echoes this year’s theme “be part of the plan” to protect, restore and sustainably use the world’s natural resources. Photo: DGFRN, Benin

22 May 2024: As the world marks the International Day for Biological Diversity, ITTO remains committed to halting and reducing the alarming loss of nature by supporting the sustainable management of the world’s tropical forests, including its treasure trove of species and ecosystems.

“The volume and variety of life that has evolved in tropical forests is astonishing in beauty and of immense value for humankind,” ITTO Executive Director Sheam Satkuru said. “Protecting tropical forests so that people continue to enjoy their irreplaceable and invaluable benefits is at the heart of ITTO’s mission.”

Global biodiversity loss continues at a dizzying rate, posing a threat to the health of the planet and the well-being of people globally. Recognizing the risks, the international community in 2022 agreed on the Kunming–Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

Halting the loss of tropical forests and ensuring their sustainable management is vital to the solution, especially since this important biome hosts more than half of the planet’s terrestrial plant and animal species.

Echoing the theme of this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity, ITTO underlines its appeal to all those with a stake in the fate of the world’s tropical forests to “be part of the plan” to protect, restore and sustainably use the world’s natural resources.

“Wide-ranging initiatives by organizations like ITTO and other stakeholders, from forest-dependent communities and government organizations to researchers and timber companies, show that the desire and tools to halt tropical deforestation and put the planet on a sustainable course are available,” Ms Satkuru said.

“However, intensified cooperation, both within countries and internationally, and a significant and sustained increase in investment are essential in order to make it a reality,” she added.

ITTO recognizes the potential of sustainable tropical forest management to contribute to biodiversity conservation while also creating economic opportunities and fostering sustainable development.

To realize that potential, ITTO has long-standing alliance with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Since 2011, ITTO has been implementing a wide range of projects under the ITTO–CBD Collaborative Initiative for Tropical Forest Biodiversity, whose objectives are closely aligned with the biodiversity framework and its associated targets, including:

  • Assisting countries to fully recognize and enhance the values of forest landscapes, including through the collection and use of ecological and biological data that contribute to the sustainable management, use and restoration of tropical forests;
  • Promoting innovative approaches and practices and technologies and the strengthening of technical skills aimed at maintaining and enhancing tropical biodiversity and ecosystem services in forest landscapes;
  • Assisting in building countries’ capacity to implement the ITTO/IUCN Guidelines for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Tropical Production Forests and other relevant guidelines and CBD decisions; and
  • Enhancing collaboration with international organizations and partners to strengthen capacity to implement global biodiversity goals, including the conservation and sustainable use of endangered tropical tree species.

Eight projects are currently underway as part of the Initiative, ranging from efforts strengthening the management of the Giam Siak Kecil-Bukit Batu Biosphere Reserve in Indonesia, supporting women’s groups forest landscape restoration in Togo, to improving forest management practices of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in Colombia and Malaysia.

Current and future projects under the Initiative will contribute to many of the goals and targets agreed under the new biodiversity framework.

These include the sustainable management of biodiversity reserves and fragile ecosystems; the conservation of valuable timber species listed under appendixes to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora; engagement with Indigenous Peoples, forest-dependent communities and women; and climate-change mitigation and adaptation.

ITTO’s work has also produced policy guidelines that are aligned with the new biodiversity framework dealing with subjects such as forest landscape restoration, gender equality and empowering women, sustainable management of natural tropical forests, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in tropical timber production forests, and fire management.

“ITTO remains committed through its work, and especially its fruitful collaboration with the CBD, to helping humankind achieve its global goals, including for climate, for biodiversity and for sustainable development as a whole,” Ms Satkuru said.