International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO)
The ITTO is an intergovernmental organization established under United Nations sponsorship (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development or UNCTAD) with headquarters in Yokohama. The ITTO forum is created through international treaty, the International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA). Its current membership stands at 60, comprising 27 from consumer countries and 33 from producer countries.
The ITTO addresses the problems of tropical forests and tropical forestry, like deforestation and social issues. Its objectives are to act as a forum for consultation and cooperation, promote trade of tropical timber from sustainable sources, the Year 2000 Objective of sustainable forest management and market transparency. The technical committees under which ITTO operates are Economic Information and Market Intelligence, Forest Industry and Reforestation and Forest Management.
ITTO also funds projects and other policy initiatives aimed at developing industries at both community and industrial scales. All projects are funded by voluntary contributions, mostly from consumer member countries. Since it became operational in 1987, ITTO has funded more than 940 projects, pre-projects and activities valued at more than US$ 340 million. The major donors are the governments of Japan, Switzerland, United States, Norway and the Netherlands.
ITTO in Sarawak
During the Sixth Session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC) held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire from 16 to 24 May 1989, the Sarawak Government invited the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) to send an independent Mission to undertake a study of sustainable forest management in the State. The Mission’s overall task was to:
(1) assess the sustainable utilization and conservation of tropical forests and their genetic resources;
(2) recommend what improvements are needed and possibly how to put them into effect;
(3) propose a programme of local and international cooperation and assistance to that end.
On conservation and community welfare, the Mission recommended that the government must ensure a complete coverage of ecosystems for biodiversity conservation, improve public relations between Forest Department and local communities, and enhance local benefits of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
To support the government’s efforts in sustainable forest management and conservation, ITTO has, since 1993, funded four pre-projects and 13 projects in Sarawak worth an estimated US$25 million. Of this amount, some US$15 million was contributed by ITTO and the remaining US$10 million by the Malaysian Government and Sarawak State Government.
The project ‘Development of Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary as a Totally Protected Area’ was the first to be implemented in 1993, and will come to an end later this year. The other on-going project is entitled “Transboundary Biodoversity Conservation: The Pulong Tau National Park.” The local communities living around this park are Kelabit, Lun Bawang and Penan.
Three of the projects recommended by the Mission for implementation are: