Most extensive survey ever of world's tropical forests shows upward trend in sustainable management

MEXICO CITY -- The most comprehensive analysis of the status of tropical forest management ever conducted has documented a significant increase in the "sustainable management" of tropical forests worldwide since 1988. But the report released today by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) warns that some 95 percent of the forests remain unprotected--and progress will be fleeting unless the international community ensures that nations benefit economically from maintaining their tropical forests.

The ITTO report, which exhaustively probes the state of tropical forestry in 33 countries in Asia, the Pacific, Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, shows that the area of sustainably managed tropical forests has expanded from less than one million hectares (2.4 million acres) in 1988 to at least 36 million hectares (87 million acres) in 2005.

"Today we do know that a total area of tropical forest about the size of Germany is in good hands," said Manoel Sobral Filho, Executive Director of ITTO. "It is clear, however, that the security of most tropical forests is still in great jeopardy, which demonstrates a collective failure to understand that forests can generate considerable economic value without being destroyed."

The report finds that the amount of forest land being managed sustainably comprises less than 5 percent of the 814 million hectares surveyed by the report--two-thirds of all natural tropical forests in the world.

The Japan-based ITTO is the world's main international agency charged with promoting the sustainable management, use and trade of tropical forest resources. The report, "Status of Tropical Forest Management 2005," will be released at the 40th Session of the International Tropical Timber Council, which is meeting 29 May-2 June in Mrida, Yucatn, Mexico.

"Sustainable management" makes it possible to maintain a forest without degrading its values, while allowing society to benefit from its resourc


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