ITTO criticized over failure to reach its goals
"ITTO has failed to reach its goals": Sarawak lawyer Baru Bian, Swiss Greens MP Maya Graf at the ITTO conference in Berne. (Picture: BMF)
(BERNE, SWITZERLAND) The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) has been criticized for not making sufficient progress in the promotion of sustainable forest management, the core goal of the multilateral organization. According to the ITTO's report "Status of Tropical Forest Management 2011", which has been released today in the Swiss capital of Berne, less than 10% of tropical forests are being managed sustainably.
The ITTO, which comprises the world's most important producer and consumer countries of tropical timber, had been set up in 1986 and had originally claimed to make tropi! cal forestry sustainable by the year 2000.
"It is shocking to see the ITTO admit that over 90% of tropical forests are not being managed sustainably", said Maya Graf, Member of the Swiss Parliament. "By focussing on technicalities and leaving out the underlying causes of deforestation such as corruption and the lack of tenure rights for indigenous peoples, ITTO has completely missed the point."
Malaysian land rights lawyer and member of the Sarawak state assembly, Baru Bian, called on ITTO to stop ignoring the native land issues. „For twenty years, we have asked ITTO to deal with native rights in an appropriate manner. It is high time for them to take our message into account.“
Lukas Straumann of the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund said the vast timber resources of Sarawak were mainly benefitting the family of the head of government: "Chief Minister Taib Mahmud has become a billionaire by the abysmal exploitation of Sarawak's forests, w! hile the indigenous peoples are left with the negative environmental and social consequences of destructive logging", Straumann said.
"ITTO must not tolerate its member countries to exploit their forest resources without the free, prior and informed consent of the forest communities", said Christoph Wiedmer of the Society for Threatened Peoples. “Despite having accepted the UN Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), many ITTO members continue to ignore the rights of the forest peoples.”
Both the Bruno Manser Fund and the Society for Threatened Peoples called on ITTO member countries to respect the rights of indigenous forest communities, to enhance their efforts to stop tropical deforestation and to tackle the issue of corruption related to the timber sector. Consumer countries of tropical timber are asked to enhance their measures to ensure the legal and sustainable origin of their timber imports.
(07 June 2011)