Holistic approach essential for tropical forestry, says ITTO

3 August 2018

Ms Shemala Satkuru delivers a keynote address at the 18th Malaysian Forest Conference. Photo: MFC2018

A holistic approach to sustainable forest management (SFM) in the tropics is needed to maximize the contribution of the tropical forest sector to global needs, according to Shemala Satkuru, ITTO Assistant Director of Operations. Ms Satkuru was speaking at the 18th Malaysian Forest Conference: Advancing Sustainable Forestry through Digitalization and Technology, held in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, on 31 July–2 August 2018.
The increasing global population will demand more timber, more forest products and more food, said Ms Satkuru. “A cross-sectoral approach between forestry and agriculture needs to be enhanced to enable concerted solutions on land-use management to meet current and future challenges.”
Ms Satkuru noted that forest degradation was still a major problem in the tropics. It could be addressed, however, through reforestation, forest restoration and SFM to ensure a stable, legal and sustainable supply of timber and forest products to meet increasing demand.
“Connecting tropical timber producers with international markets and ultimately to end-consumers is crucial, which means addressing entire supply chains holistically,” she said. “For this to happen at a large scale, much more capacity building is needed, including the uptake of the best technologies for implementing SFM and tracking forest products along product chains.”
In her keynote address, Ms Satkuru described several activities in which ITTO is involved aimed at promoting the sustainable and legal production of tropical timber and tropical forest products.
  • An initiative on global green supply chains was launched in Beijing, China, last June to enhance the production, processing, distribution and consumption of legal and sustainable timber and forest products, including tropical timber, thereby bringing benefits to all stakeholders, from forest owners in the tropics to end-consumers, and to the global environment. The initiative includes a declaration by twelve leading Chinese forest products enterprises committing them to pursuing green timber supply chains. ITTO will help facilitate a phased approach to ensure a stable, reliable supply of wood raw materials from legal and sustainable sources for the development of a thriving forest products industry.
  • Sustainable Wood for a Sustainable World, an initiative of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, of which ITTO is a member, aims to strengthen sustainable wood value chains from production to consumption to enhance their economic, social and environmental benefits.
  • The international conference, Working across Sectors to Halt Deforestation and Increase Forest Area, from Aspiration to Action, held in Rome in May 2017, reviewed the drivers of deforestation and ways in which these can be addressed.
  • ITTO’s forest restoration guidelines are being reviewed within the framework of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests to take stock of recent developments and address landscape integrity. The focus is on increasing ecosystem functions for water, biodiversity and climate-change mitigation and adaptation while ensuring optimum productivity and economic benefits for communities living in those landscapes.
Ms Satkuru also presented the experiences of, and lessons learned from, the following ITTO-financed projects that have used digital technologies to advance SFM: Guatemala’s electronic information system for forest enterprises; species identification and timber tracking using DNA finger printing and stable isotopes in Africa and Indonesia; Ecuador’s National Forest Information System; online platform to facilitate the flow of information on timber legality to SMEs in China; identification of CITES-listed tree species through near infrared spectroscopy in Brazil; and the results of an ITTO fellowship on mapping selective logging in Brazil.
On behalf of ITTO Executive Director Dr Gerhard Dieterle, Ms Satkuru congratulated the State of Sarawak on its goal to certify all long-term forest concessions by 2022 and for its implementation of the Sarawak Timber Legality Verification System.
Download Ms Satkuru’s keynote presentation.
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For more information on the 18th Malaysian Forest Conference visit https://mfc2018.com.my