Council launches new initiatives on forest law enforcement

3 November 2001, Yokohama, Japan

ITTO will launch a range of new activities on forest law enforcement and combating the illegal trade of timber, following a decision made today by the International Tropical Timber Council.

Failures in forest law enforcement and problems of illegal trade in forest products have been the subject of intense debate within the Council. In reaching its decision at this session, the Council recognized that all countries and the ITTO have a role to play in combating activities that undermine sustainable forest management.

The Council stressed the linkage between sustainable forest management and market access for tropical timber products and recognized the need to promote "adequate access to consumer markets, aiming at a significant increase in the revenues and benefits for governments, forest owners, industry and local communities".

The decision provides resources to assist countries to address unsustainable timber harvesting, forest law enforcement and illegal trade in tropical timber upon request.

In addition, the Organization will undertake a study to investigate trade statistics reporting systems in selected countries to identify problems and recommend actions to strengthen these systems and to deal with apparent instances of illegal trade. Another study will report on relevant issues affecting market access for tropical timber.

In a related decision, the Council expressed its appreciation to the ITTO Mission to Indonesia, which made a wide range of recommendations to strengthen sustainable forest management and control illegal logging in that country. The Council agreed to help publicise the Mission's findings throughout Indonesia and encouraged the government to submit project proposals to implement the recommendations, including those to help curb illegal logging.

ITTO's Trade Advisory Group (TAG), comprising representatives of trade organizations in producer and consumer countries, welcomed the Mission report and the initiatives of Council on forest law enforcement and illegal trade.

"Illegal logging and illegal trade in timber damage the timber industry by destabilizing the market and damaging the resource," the TAG spokesman said. "Curbing these problems will help promote sustainable forest management."

For more information contact: Mr Amha bin Buang, ITTO Secretariat;