Madagascar Joins International Tropical Timber Organization

9 November 2016 | TRAFFIC International News Release

Yokohama, Japan—The International Tropical Timber Organization’s (ITTO) fifty-second Council session began this week in Yokohama, during which Madagascar was welcomed as the 73rd member of ITTO.

Madagascar is home to unique and rich biodiversity, with about 14 000 plant species, 90% of which are endemic. However, the country faces significant challenges in ensuring its natural resources, including the nation’s highly prized timber species, are managed sustainably and traded legally, with the benefits shared equitably and contributing towards sustainable development. The main threats include deforestation due to land conversion, fuel wood needs for a poor and growing population and illegal trade of precious timber species.

“Madagascar’s membership of ITTO is a welcome and important step for a country seeking support from the international community to improve transparency and governance in its timber industry,” said Cynthia Ratsimbazafy, a Project Officer with TRAFFIC, based in Madagascar.

In recent years, TRAFFIC has been working in Madagascar under the USAID-funded SCAPES project on “Preserving Madagascar’s Natural Resources”, which aims to combat the illegal trade in Madagascar’s natural resources through capacity building for Malagasy stakeholders. Under it, TRAFFIC works closely with the Ministry of Ecology Environment and Forest (MEEF), its Directorate General of Forests and with the Regional Directorate of Ecology, Environment and the Forests (DREEF), as well as with research institutes, NGOs and private sectors, providing support on implementation of regulations for species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in particular rosewoods Dalbergia spp. and ebonies Diospyros spp., and in restoring governance in the timber sector through development of biodiversity management plans for precious timber species, developing the national legality framework for forest and timber trade and by building capacity of government officials, industry and NGOs, in species identification.

TRAFFIC is represented at the ITTO Council meeting by Chen Hin Keong, TRAFFIC’s Timber Trade Programme Leader who is also co-Chair of ITTO’s Civil Society Advisory Group (CSAG), which endeavours to provide recommendations and advice to the Council and members in support of ITTO’s objectives.

TRAFFIC recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ITTO, the first outcome of which will be an event held on 12th November in conjunction with TRAFFIC’s Japan office entitled: CITES and Timber trade—Japan’s role in the global community.

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