International Tropical Timber Agreement

General Detail

General Information

  1. Type: Convention
  2. Date of signature:
  3. Place of signature: Geneva, Switzerland
  4. Depositary:
  5. Date of entry into force: 01/01/1997



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What is it about?

This Convention, replacing an earlier Agreement signed in 1986 that established the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and that expired on 31 March 1994, aims to encourage the rational usage of tropical timber and to reinforce international cooperation between importing and exporting countries. It also serves as a valuable tool in the economic management of tropical forests. The primary objective of this instrument is to protect traditional forests by developing a sustainable management approach to timber resources and to reduce their depletion through over logging. Therefore, the sales price must reflect the real value of the resource and exported tropical timbers must be from forests run by sustainable management practices. A special fund assists producing countries to undertake the reforms and investments necessary to carry out sustainable management of timber resources. The 1994 Agreement does not address other reasons for deforestation, such as voluntary or accidental fires or the overuse of woods for domestic purposes.

Why is it relevant?

By ratifying the International Tropical Timber Agreement, timber-producing countries have access to funds for the sustainable management of tropical forests. The funds are intended to help countries to administer their timber resources in a sustainable and ecologically sound manner. All projects are funded by voluntary contributions, mostly from consuming member countries. From 1987 to 2005, ITTO has funded more than 600 projects, pre-projects and activities valued at more than US$250 million. In addition, States party to the Agreement develop internationally agreed policy documents to promote sustainable forest management and forest conservation and assist tropical member countries to adapt such policies to local circumstances. An equal partnership in decision-making, policy formulation and project development between producing members (tropical developing countries) and tropical timber consuming members (mostly temperate developed countries) characterizes the Agreement.

Additional Information

The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), created by the former Agreement and headquartered in Yokoyama, Japan, provides a forum where producing and consuming countries and interested non-governmental organizations can meet. The highest authority of the Organization is the International Tropical Timber Council, exercising regulatory powers, which is composed of all the Organization’s members. ITTO has two categories of membership: producing members and consuming members. Annual contributions and votes are distributed equally between these two groups, which are called caucuses. Within each caucus, the votes of individual members are calculated according to tropical timber trade and, in the case of producers, also on the extent of tropical forests within the country.


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