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Hwan Ok Ma

1. Introduction

The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) was established by the International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA), 1983 and operates under the successor agreement to the ITTA, 1983, which was negotiated in 1994 and came into force on 1 January 1997. The ITTO headquarters are in Yokohama, Japan and the organization had a staff of 32 people as of November 2000.

The mission of ITTO is "to facilitate discussion, consultation and international cooperation on issues relating to the international trade and utilization of tropical timber and the sustainable management of its resource base".

More information on the organization can be found on the ITTO web site at

1.1 ITTO Structure and Functions

The governing body of ITTO is the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC), which includes all members and meets twice a year. ITTO has 55 members, representing over 75% of the world's tropical forests and almost 90% of world trade in tropical timber products.

1.2 The "ITTO Objective 2000"

This is a strategy adopted in 1991 by which its members would progress towards achieving trade in tropical timber from sustainably managed forests by the year 2000. In November 2000, ITTO reaffirmed its full commitment to "moving as rapidly as possible towards achieving exports of tropical timber and timber products from sustainably managed sources".

1.3 Policy Work

Development of a series of ITTO guidelines covering:

Guidelines for the sustainable management of natural tropical forests (1990);
Criteria for the Measurement of Sustainable Tropical Forest Management (1992);
Guidelines for the Establishment and Sustainable Management of Planted Tropical Forests (1993);
Guidelines for the Conservation of Biological Diversity in Tropical Production Forests (1993);
Guidelines on Fire Management of Tropical Forests (1997);
Criteria and Indicators for the Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests (1998);
Manual for the Application of Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forest - national level and forest management unit level (1999).

1.4 Project Funding in ITTO: (in million US$)

2. ITTO's Involvement in NTFPs

Since ITTO started operations in 1987, the promotion of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) has been at the core of its activities. Achievement of SFM implies that all forest resources, including NTFPs, are taken into consideration. ITTO believes that NTFP development is an important tool for local community development and resource conservation, and as a strategy for rural poverty alleviation.

2.1 Main Lessons Learned from ITTO Projects

All forest communities use NTFPs intensively. However, not much emphasis has been put on NTFPs in the past, and NTFP-related activities are poorly documented. Guidelines for sustainable use of NTFPs are non-existent and even difficult to establish. Further, technical and financial resources and market information are not easily available to rural communities. However, NTFPs have a great potential to raise income levels of rural communities and to contribute to SFM.

On-going ITTO Projects in NTFPs






Sustainable Management and Utilization of Sympodial Bamboos in South China

Research Institute of Subtropical Forestry,

CAF, China


Non-timber Production and Sustainable Development in the Amazon

University of Brasilia



Processing and Utilization of Almaciga Resin as Source of Industrial Chemicals

Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI),



Management and Utilization of Paca (Guadua Sacocapa)

National Institute for Natural Resources,



Promotion of the Utilization of Bamboo from Sustainable Sources in Thailand

Forest Research Office, RFD



Improvement of Sustainable Management and Utilization of Tropical NTFPs in Cambodia

Department of Forestry and Wildlife,



Promotion of Sustainable Utilization of Rattan from Plantation in Thailand

Forest Research Office, RFD



Utilization, Collection, and

Trade of Tropical NWFPs in the Philippines




3. ITTO project on Rattan

ITTO PD 24/00, "Promotion of sustainable utilization of rattan from plantation in Thailand"

This is a 3-year project (from 2001 to 2003) to be implemented by the Forest Products Research and Silvicultural Research Divisions of the Forest Research Office, Royal Forest Department, Thailand.

The objectives of the project are:

to study and develop techniques for managing rattan plantations for sustainable production with a view to developing and disseminating guidelines and technologies on plantation management and harvesting of rattan. .

to promote the efficient utilization of rattan shoots and canes for value-added products by developing guidelines for utilization of rattan and transferring technologies to support socio-economic development.

to establish community-owned enterprises.

Problems to be addressed by the project are:

for Rattan canes:

Shortage of rattan canes
Lack of knowledge on managing rattan plantations for sustainable cane production
Lack of knowledge on production of value-added rattan products
Need for research on basic properties of important rattan species

for Rattan shoots:

Demand for rattan shoots
Lack of knowledge on cultivating and managing rattan plantations for sustainable shoot production
Lack of knowledge on processing of rattan shoots

Programmes and Operational Activities


Sakon Nakhon (North)

Krabi (South)

Area of plantation



2 ha

for shoot production

Calamus siamensis (bitter taste): 1ha

Calamus sp. (sweet taste): 1 ha

Spacing/Fertilizer applications

Harvesting methods

2.2 ha (in existing 5 and 10-year old plantations)

for cane production

Calamus longisetus (Kumpuan)

Calamus latifolius (Pong)

Calamus caecius (Tha kha thong)

Fertilizer applications

Number of canes being harvested

Expected Outputs:

Two demonstration plots on management of rattan plantations
Guidelines for sustainable management of rattan
Study on physical and working properties
Techniques for preservation, processing (bending and bleaching of rattan canes), harvesting and edible shoot processing
A cottage industry through small cooperatives for the production of rattan shoots and for the production of rattan furniture parts to develop value-added rattan products.

4. Concluding Remarks

Since ITTO began operations in 1987, it has funded more than 500 projects, pre-projects and activities valued at some US$200 million and the promotion of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) has been at the core of its activities. Achievement of SFM implies that all forest resources, including NTFPs, are taken into consideration. Promotion of NTFPs is identified as one of the priority actions of ITTO to improve the tropical timber resource base in the ITTO Libreville Action Plan currently implemented by the Organization.

Figure 1: Map of Thailand with situation of field sites of rattan project

One of the lessons learnt from ITTO projects is that, in most cases, the immediate and most pressing problem faced by rural communities is low-income levels and inadequate social facilities. Noting that poverty alleviation is one of the most urgent tasks in developing countries, promotion of the sustainable use of NTFPs, based on the needs of the community, can provide income-generation activities in rural communities. This will enhance the implementation of economically and ecologically sound SFM practices.

Recognizing that NTFPs have a great potential to alleviate rural poverty and to contribute to SFM, ITTO looks forward to further collaboration and joint activities with FAO, INBAR, CIFOR and other organizations involved in the promotion of NTFPs.  


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