Features & Commentary
The International Tropical Timber Organization’s new thematic programme on REDDES
by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) Secretariat
Promoting the conservation and sustainable management, use and trade of tropical forest resources is the mandate of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).
Tropical forests play a vital role in sustaining a large proportion of the world’s biodiversity, maintaining land-use options and water resources, contributing to the carbon cycle and providing other key services to forest-dependent people. Deforestation and forest degradation in tropical forests have reduced the quality of many forest environmental services. Often, poorly implemented timber harvesting has damaged remaining trees and caused soil erosion and compaction, while the conversion of forests to other land uses has also led to the loss or degradation of many services. The introduction or strengthening of sustainable forest management, forest restoration, afforestation and reforestation in such areas can play an important role in restoring environmental services and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
ITTO has a long track record of working with member countries and partners to promote such activities through field projects and capacity-building initiatives. Since it became operational in 1987, ITTO has funded more than 900 projects, pre-projects and activities valued at more than US$330 million. The major donors over the life of the Organization have been the governments of Japan, Switzerland and the United States, with Norway, the Netherlands and the European Commission making important contributions in recent years.
ITTO has undertaken several important recent initiatives relevant to REDD. The implementation of the ITTO Guidelines for the Restoration, Management and Rehabilitation of Degraded and Secondary Forests offers an important strategy for ITTO’s producer members in combating deforestation and degradation and for enhancing the environmental services of the tropical forests. The recently updated ITTO/IUCN Guidelines for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Tropical Timber Production Forests represents an additional specific tool to help secure valuable environmental services.
The ITTO Thematic Programme on REDDES
In 2008, ITTO launched a new thematic programme aimed at reducing deforestation and forest degradation and enhancing environmental services in tropical forests (REDDES) through the sustainable management of tropical forests, forest restoration, afforestation, reforestation and other related activities.
The programme focuses primarily on four strategic areas:
I. Assessment and diagnosis
The quality of planning for forest-related interventions depends on the availability and accuracy of data and information related to the state of and threats to forest resources. Activities include: (i) forest cover and forest resources assessment, monitoring and verification systems; (ii) pilot multi-purpose forest inventories; (iii) estimation of forest carbon stocks, including emissions from deforestation and forest degradation; (iv) assessment of policy, legal and institutional frameworks to promote biodiversity conservation, carbon storage, watershed conservation and other environmental services through sustainable forest management and rehabilitation of degraded forests; (v) land and forest tenure assessments; and (vi) capacity-building, institutional strengthening, training and outreach.
II. Enabling conditions and capacity-building
These activities aim at establishing enabling policy, legal and institutional frameworks and governance related to environmental services and the reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation, including by strengthening tenure security and resource access.
III. Demonstration activities
The programme also facilitates demonstration projects on sustainable forest management, forest restoration, reforestation and afforestation to help realize the benefits of environmental services, including in local communities.
IV. Scaling up and dissemination
The programme supports activities dedicated to the replication and scaling up of successful demonstration projects related to environmental services in tropical forests. The programme also provides support for sharing information and lessons learned locally, nationally and internationally.
The indicative three-year budget of the programme is US$18 million. The government of Norway has already pledged US$3.8 million to enable programme implementation. The governments of Japan, Switzerland and USA have also expressed their interest to contribute to funding this new ITTO initiative and additional pledges are expected at ITTO’s upcoming Council session in November 2009.
The main instrument of the programme implementation is providing support to the implementation of projects or activities proposed by stakeholders in ITTO developing member countries and submitted through the national ITTO focal points to ensure a coordinated approach. These proposals should fall under one or more of the four strategic areas of the REDDES Programme outlined above.
Partnership between ITTO REDDES and UN-REDD
Since June 2009, ITTO has received over 40 proposals under this new programme from various stakeholders in ITTO member countries. Partnerships at operational level are a critical element of the implementation of the REDDES Programme. In this regard, ITTO member countries that are also participating in the FAO/UNEP/UNDP joint UN-REDD programme are invited to submit their proposals to increase synergies and complementarity between these programmes.
Partnerships with the UN-REDD Programme will be initiated through eventual implementation of the following project proposals:
- Technical support for the development of a national forest inventory system in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to evaluate carbon stocks and their changes: This project aims at supporting DRC to develop a credible measurable, reportable and verifiable (MRV) system for REDD.
- Multipurpose National Forest Inventory in Papua New Guinea (PNG): The project aims at developing and implementing an effective forest inventory system to include forest cover, biomass, biodiversity, water, and socio-economic information. Data from the multipurpose national forest inventory will be used to assist PNG in meeting its international reporting obligations.
These projects from DRC and PNG will support the UN-REDD programme, which receives the technical support of FAO for the development of a credible MRV system. The two project proposals are in the process of receiving comments from the ITTO Thematic Programme Advisory Committee. The effective implementation of ITTO REDDES will be enhanced with more partnership projects such as these with UN-REDD.
For more information on the REDDES Thematic Programme visit www.itto.int.