This is the sixth publication in the ITTO Policy Development Series which aims to provide practical assistance to member countries as they address issues and develop principles to ensure the protection and sustainable management of tropical forests.
As each year large areas of tropical forests are lost to fire resulting from both natural and man-induced causes, these Guidelines have been developed particularly for those countries which have decided to implement forest fire management programmes but have little experinece in this area. The success of such efforts will be of benefit to the global community overall.
As a follow up of the ITTO-sponsored activities in the rehabilitation of forests destroyed by fires in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC) embarked upon the development of Guidelines for the protection of tropical forests against fire. Pursuant to a Decision of the Council, an Expert Panel comprising specialists form producer and consumer members was convened in Jakarta from 6-20 March 1995. Draft Guidelines, based on a background paper prepared by Dr. J.G.Goldammer (Germany) and Prof. S.Manan (Indonesia), were formulated and subsequently presented at the Eighteenth Session of the ITTC in Accra, Ghana.
At this stage, it was recognised that the Guidelines would need to incorporate a range of issues in addition to just the suppression of wildfires in tropical forests. To this end , the remit of the Guidelines was extended to include factors relevant also to fire management. This has undoubtedly increased the scope and application of the Guidelines. The finalised version results from the painstaking work of J.Sorensen (USA) and R.Soares (Brazil) who incorporated this version into the draft. The Guidelines were approved by ITTC at its Twenty-first Session held in Yokohama, Japan in November 1996.
The resources required by a member country to implement the various recommended actions contained herein were not a consideration in the formulation of the Guidelines. An action deemed necessary to accomplish a goal is presented even if it might be beyond the current means of some countries. However, in making the recommendations contained in these Guidelines, it is our hope that they will generate enhanced levels of international cooperation and assistance to developing tropical countries.
The Guidelines on Fire Management in tropical forests is one more step by the ITTO to aid forest managers and national planners to overcome the problems they face in achieving the sustainable management of their forests. The challenge now lies in the incorporation of these Guidelines into national action plans and for their effective implementation. This set of Guidelines is yet another ITTO contribution to promote the management, conservation and sustainable development of tropical forests as enshrined in the International Tropical Timber Agreeement of 1994.