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Hardwoods (Rosewood sp.) lying on the quayside in Maroantsetra, Madagascar © naturepl.com / Nick Garbutt / WWF

Hardwoods (Rosewood sp.) lying on the quayside in Maroantsetra, Madagascar © naturepl.com / Nick Garbutt / WWF

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Published 9th November 2016

Madagascar joins International Tropical Timber Organization

Yokohama, Japan, 9th November 2016—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

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.


About the International Tropical Timber Organization

The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) is an intergovernmental organisation promoting the conservation and sustainable management, use and trade of tropical forest resources. Its members represent the bulk of the world’s tropical forests and of the global tropical timber trade. TRAFFIC signed an MoU with ITTO in October 2016 in an effort to combine skills and resources in working towards sustainable forest management. ITTO develops internationally agreed policy documents to promote sustainable forest management and forest conservation and assists tropical member countries to adapt such policies to local circumstances and to implement them in the field through projects. In addition, ITTO collects, analyses and disseminates data on the production and trade of tropical timber and funds projects and other actions aimed at developing industries at both community and industrial scales. Since it became operational in 1987, ITTO has funded over 1,000 projects valued at around US$350 million. All projects are funded by voluntary contributions, with major donors to date the governments of Japan, Switzerland, the United States of America, Norway and the European Union.

About USAID

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is responsible for the majority of overseas development assistance from the United States Government and works to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies while advancing security and prosperity for America and the world