Global teak support program by IUFRO, TEAKNET and FAO underway

apfw16-teak-event-1 Experts from the Asia Pacific region and from overseas convened in a side event at the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week, in Pampanga, Philippines, on 24 February, to discuss the way forward in promoting teak (Tectona grandis) as one of the major high-value tropical timber species. Current trends show that global demand for and importance of teak will significantly increase as a business opportunity for the private sector and as a means of income for smallholder farmers.

Due to a significant decrease of log supply from natural teak forests reported from Myanmar, India, and Lao PDR caused by overexploitation and land conversion to agriculture, interest and investments in establishing and managing teak plantations in many tropical countries has notably increased. As explained by Dr. K.P. Thulasidas, Coordinator of TEAKNET, the problems that will be faced in future are two-fold: (a) the genetic diversity of natural teak forests is gradually eroding due to forest destruction, and (b) the genetic base of planted teak established in the past is rather narrow, which may endanger its sustainability particularly in view of new challenges posed by climate change and extreme weather events.

apfw16-teak-event-4Against this background a global teak support program is currently being designed by IUFRO, TEAKNET and FAO with the objectives to conserve the existing natural teak resources for future genetic breeding programs and planted teak for sustainable management.

Following the presentations by the experts on various aspects of teak management, marketing and trade, participants of the partner event provided comments and suggestions for consideration regarding the program design. These included enhanced exchange of technical and operational experiences among teak managers and scientists through TEAKNET; further genetic research on gene markers for tracing teak genetic origins; careful design of equitable benefit-sharing mechanisms for creating genetically improved planting material; development of best practices of teak management and its dissemination to farmers through proper extension services.

In an initial phase of the project supported by ITTO, a thorough analysis of past teak-related projects will be conducted by a group of scientists generating further input for this multi-year project.

Overall, participants agreed that the joint initiative by IUFRO, TEAKNET and FAO will provide an important element in future efforts to conserve and sustainably manage the world’s teak resources.

By Michael Kleine, IUFRO Deputy Executive Director


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