The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) will send a four-person team of experts to Indonesia to assist the government there in developing plans for sustainable forest management.
This is one outcome of the 29th Session of the International Tropical Timber Council, which closed today after six days of intense discussion and negotiation.
The Council, which is ITTO's governing body, meets every six months to consider developments in international forest policy and its wide-ranging project program. Delegates from 44 member countries and 23 observers from United Nations organizations, environmental non-governmental organizations, and trade and industry representatives attended the session.
The decision to send an ITTO mission follows a request made by Indonesia's Minister of Agriculture and Forestry for assistance in reformulating the national forestry program. The Council decided to organize a technical mission "to assist the Government of Indonesia to identify ITTO support especially in formulating forestry action plans to achieve sustainable forest management".
Under the terms of reference, the mission will assist the formulation of pilot programs to restructure the forest industry, including downsizing the industry, improving industrial competitiveness, establishing forest plantations, recalculating timber values, and decentralizing forest management. It will also assist the country in formulating an action plan with strong measures to combat illegal logging.
Other decisions by Council
At the Session, the Council reaffirmed its full commitment to moving as rapidly as possible towards achieving exports of tropical timber and timber products from sustainably managed sources.
In this respect the Council decided to:
• authorize the Executive Director to render assistance to producing member countries, on request, to identify, in each country, those factors which most severely limit progress towards sustainable forest management and to formulate an action plan to overcome these constraints;
• facilitate the implementation of these action plans through intensifying international collaboration and strengthening of national policies and programs by measures such as demonstration projects and reduced impact logging training facilities; and
• authorize the Executive Director to assist individual producer countries, on request, in setting up an ITTO Objective 2000 boards to build broad-based support and high level commitment to achieving Objective 2000.
Mangrove conservation highlighted
ITTO will develop a work plan to assist its members in the conservation, rehabilitation and use of mangroves, following another decision of the Council at the session.
The workplan will aim to increase awareness among members of the importance of mangrove conservation, encourage cooperation between members to intensify ITTO activities in this field, and promote the sustainable use of mangrove ecosystems. Members will be encouraged to prepare project and pre-project proposals in this area for consideration by the Council at future sessions.
Cooperation with ATO
In its deliberations, the Council emphasized the need to strengthen cooperation between ITTO and the African Timber Organization (ATO).
With this in mind, it requested the Executive Director to:
• assist ATO in the assessment and refinement of its principles, criteria and indicators for the sustainable management of African forests and to make them consistent with the ITTO guidelines and criteria and indicators;
• assist ATO in organizing a regional workshop to review and adapt the ITTO principles, criteria and indicators for sustainable management to African forests for use by the ATO; and
• formulate a project proposal for developing a framework of cooperation between the two organizations.
New action plan
Recognizing the continuing need for ITTO to maintain its relevance in the evolving international forests agenda, the Council has embarked on a process of developing a new action plan for the Organization.
The starting point for the new plan will be a working paper to be prepared by the Executive Director with the assistance of two consultants, which will then be considered by a 16-member expert panel, including representatives of non-governmental and industry organizations.
In another move to maintain the Organization's relevance in the international forests debate, the Council has requested the Executive Director to convene a second 16-member expert panel to consider and report to Council recommendations for ITTO's involvement in relevant international and regional organizations and forums.