Mutual respect will help solve divisive forest issues, says Council Chair

13 December 2004, Yokohama, Japan

Council Chair Ms Jan McAlpine. Photo: H. Rubin

Potentially divisive issues to be debated this week at the 37th session of the International Tropical Timber Council will be dealt with constructively because of the prevailing atmosphere of mutual respect among its member countries, according to the Council's Chairperson.

The Council is the governing body of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the conservation and sustainable management, use and trade of tropical forest resources.

Items on the Council's agenda this week include analysis of issues relating to forest law enforcement, forest certification and the expansion of trade in tropical timber; in the past, these issues have sparked controversy between countries of the north and south.

Reports will also be presented on ITTO missions to Fiji, Cambodia and Panama, which were mandated to identify those factors most limiting progress towards sustainable forest management in each country and to formulate action plans to help overcome such obstacles.

Speaking today at the opening of the session, Council chair Ms Jan McAlpine said that the Organization had made impressive achievements in recent years, due largely to the increasingly collegial and respectful atmosphere in the Council.

"In dealing with the potentially divisive issues we have on the agenda, let us maintain that atmosphere of mutual respect," she said.

"If we leave suspicion at the door, anything is possible in this Organization."

37th session of the ITTC. Photo: H. Rubin

Also speaking at the opening session was the Mayor of the City of Yokohama, Mr Hiroshi Nakada, who expressed Yokohama's continued support for ITTO, and H.E. Emile Doumba, Minster of Forest Economy in Gabon, who called on ITTO consumer countries to increase contributions to the Organization's Bali Partnership Fund, which is designed to assist tropical member countries to implement sustainable forest management.

At this session the Council will receive, among other things, the results of a study on export and import data on tropical timber products and case-studies for enhancing forest law enforcement in Malaysia and Honduras. Reports will be presented and discussed on procedures to implement phased approaches to certification in tropical timber-producing countries and on the costs and benefits of certification in selected ITTO producing member countries. A study on measures to promote the expansion and diversification of international trade in tropical timber will also be tabled. For the full agenda of the Council session, and to download the draft reports, go to

Daily reports of the Council session and recordings of the opening speeches are downloadable from the website of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (

For more information contact: Alastair Sarre, Editor and Communications Manager (