For ensuring biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement in sustainably managed tropical forests through landscape restoration and expansion of natural protected areas, the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have renewed their longstanding collaboration for another five years.

With the aim of supporting CBD parties, including India, and ITTO member countries in the tropics in their efforts to conserve biodiversity, the collaboration will implement sustainable forest management, restore degraded forest landscapes, and encourage the sustainable use of forest resources.

The collaboration to 2025 was formalised with the signing last week of a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

The ITTO and the CBD have been collaborating closely for a decade. The first MoU between the two bodies, signed in 2010 in the framework of the International Year of Biodiversity, gave birth to the ITTO-CBD Collaborative Initiative for Tropical Forest Biodiversity.

A second MoU spanning 2015-2020 was signed at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD in Pyeongchang in Republic of Korea in October 2014.

To date, the collaborative Initiative has encompassed 16 projects in 23 tropical countries, all of which had experienced biodiversity losses and decline in the forest area and have large numbers of forest-dependent people.

At $13 million, the total budget of the 16 projects is modest, but a recent technical review found that they have achieved extraordinary success in improving local livelihoods and forest management, restoring degraded forest landscapes and conserving biodiversity.

Examples of the collaborative initiative’s achievement include increasing the size of a mangrove protected area in Peru by more than 7,00,000 ha; providing more than 400 foresters and technicians in Central Africa with education and training on sustainable forest management; enabling previously difficult transboundary cooperation on the management of the Emerald Triangle between Cambodia and Thailand; and restoring 130 ha of mangroves in Fiji.

The renewed collaboration between the CBD and ITTO will include assisting countries to recognize and enhance the values of forest landscapes, including their biodiversity and ecosystem services, assisting countries to collect and use ecological and biological data that contribute to sustainable management and use and the restoration of tropical forests.

The new MoU will also help facilitate collaboration with, and access to, bilateral and multilateral funding sources such as the Global Environment Facility and the Green Climate Fund on emerging issues related to biodiversity conservation, climate-change mitigation and adaptation, and sustainable development.

Innovative aspects of the collaboration between ITTO and the CBD include exploring opportunities for harmonised reporting on the sustainable use, restoration and conservation of tropical forests in the context of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, which is being developed under the CBD, and supporting regional and South-South cooperation, thus contributing to and leveraging the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030).

–IANS

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