AT THE November meeting of the
International Tropical Timber
Organisation'(ITTO), some industrialised countries proposed
labelling imported timber according to region of origin and whether
it came from a "sustainably logged"
forest. Timber from "unsustainably
logged" forests would be banned by
the consumer countries.
The proposal was not accepted
because of fears that if forests no
longer provided an, economic
incentive for timber-producing
countries, they would be cleared
for other economic purposes. There
was no consensus also on the I'sustainability" of commercial logging,
which is to be reached by 2000.
However, Austria has unilaterally made labelling of tropical timber mandatory, rousing Malaysia's
ire. The Austrian move was partly
due to anticipation that failure to
achieve selective bans will lead
environmental NGOs to lobby for a
total consumer boycott of tropical
A motion was made to include
temperate forests in ITTO's
purview, but this was not acceptable to the North, which did not
want its forests to be monitored by
the international community.
However, the meeting achieved little in fulfilling ITTO's main goals.
According to an NGO statement
issued on the last day, "Again, the
meeting has been dominated by
tortuous debate on project proposals, far.from adjusting the balance
of ITTO's activities towards muchneeded policy discussion."