Participants of the Second Regional Workshop call for a revision of guidelines in Africa

According to a news release from the International Tropical Timber Organisation, during the Second Regional Workshop at the ITTO Voluntary Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests, held from the 8th to 12th of May 2017 in Cotonou, Benin, participants agreed that a revision of the ATO/ITTO Principles, Criteria and Indicators for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests in Africa was needed. The workshop, attended by 33 practitioners and policymakers from ITTO members in Africa, was convened in collaboration with Benin’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and General Directorate of Forestry.

The goal of the workshop was to draw from the ITTO Voluntary Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests alongside experiences from neighbouring countries in the region to spark the development, as well as implementation, of national and sub-national guidelines on sustainable forest management (SFM).

Published in 2015, the voluntary guidelines offer forest managers, policymakers, and other forest stakeholders guidance in tackling the various issues – ecological, institutional, and legal, among others – that need to be considered in the evaluation, implementation, and planning of SFM in natural tropical forests in order to make sure there is sustainable provision of environmental services and forest goods. These updated guidelines replace the ITTO Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests, originally from 1992.

More recently, the ITTO Criteria and Indicators for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests, released in 2016, draws strongly from the voluntary guidelines, and takes current forest policy issues into account, such as those associated with adaptation and mitigation of climate change; the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Workshop participants also called for a revision of the ATO (African Timber Organisation)/ITTO Principles, Criteria and Indicators for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests in Africa – finalised in 2003 – to ensure SFM practices in Africa were still relevant and up-to-date with recent developments in the fast-paced, ever-changing global policy arena.