Submitted by Eduardo Mansur and Steven Johnson, ITTO
At the United Nations Climate Change Conference currently running in Copenhagen, it is expected that a financial mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) will materialize. This is good news for the forest sector: for the first time, substantial funding may be available to promote the conservation and sustainable use of forests.
But the International Tropical Timber Organization, an intergovernmental organization promoting the conservation and sustainable management, use and trade of tropical forest resources has voiced concern at proposals to try to eliminate production forests from the text and the scope of any REDD agreement.
As is well known, REDD is mainly directed at tropical forests where most deforestation and forest degradation take place. 90% of existing tropical forests are outside protected areas and these forests play a very important role in the livelihoods of local people. They make a substantial contribution to the sustainable development of tropical countries. The ITTO believes that any REDD scheme that ignores or excludes the productive functions of forests will be at best ineffective and at worst a failure.
A particular concern is the insistence by some stakeholders to equate the term “sustainable forest management” (SFM) with uncontrolled logging. The ITTO says that this is mistaken. “SFM is the basic principle underlying all international, national and local efforts to promote the adequate, long term use and conservation of forest resources at all levels,” says the organization in a recently published statement. “It is internationally accepted by ITTO and all other members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), and countries, that sustainable forest management is a dynamic and evolving concept, aimed at maintaining and enhancing the economic, social and environmental values of all types of forests for the benefit of present and future generations.”