Mr. Piare Lal
In behalf of my colleagues, we would like to complement the host organizations. The DENR for the wonderful arrangements for this conference and also for the freedom of suggestions wherein everyone had been given the opportunity to participate and to convey his viewpoints. Indeed, this has been a great learning and knowledge sharing experience that has enhanced everyone's knowledge.
I would also like to take this opportunity to say thanks to the session chairs, Mr. Ramon Paje, Mr. Al Rashid Ishmael, Dr. Efransjah, Mr. Tolentino and Mr. Jim Carle. Although, we had been here just for three days, I'm sure all of us will be carrying very happy memories of this visit to the Philippines. Many of us might not have the opportunity to really see the country but this workshop by itself will make this visit always memorable. I'm sure the recommendations which had been drafted by the delegates and coordinators are worthy subjects of follow up actions by governments and policy makers.
Finally, I must thank all of you once again. To those ladies and gentlemen who had work behind the scene especially Mayumi, our friend here who has been helping in the presentations, and all of the colleagues who supported her as well as the other organizations, our heartfelt gratitude and sincere thanks. Thank you very much.
Mr. Patrick Durst
It would be quite tempting for me just to say "ditto" to the previous comments of Mr. Piare Lal but I would want to extend my personal touch, thanks and comments about the conference. Certainly, it had been very successful in bringing out issues and in highlighting some of the pertinent aspects of plantation development.
I would like to especially express my appreciation to the presenters. I think the quality of the presentations and the papers for this meeting are quite high relative to most meetings that I have had participated in the last several years. We usually expected that there will be few good papers or few poor papers and a lot in the middle. I think in this particular meeting, we were fortunate to have a lot on the upper side. I think it's a tribute to the high quality recruitment process done by DENR folks for this occasion, the efforts in putting together a good program and the attention individuals have given to the papers.
I also want to comment on the active participation. I think we had some very good discussions but unfortunately, we have to frequently shut down discussions due to time constraint. But that's the price you pay for stimulating a lot of thought process. That was great and rewarding to see. I would again appreciate the hard work of the session chairmen. Thank you, you did an excellent job even if everybody had not had the opportunity to speak.
With regard to our collaboration with other partners in organizing this, I appreciate very much the efforts of my colleague at ITTO Dr. Efransjah. We have a lot of exchanges back and forth, by e-mail and phone calls, second and tertiary messages passed through other people and it seems that I meet Dr. Efransjah everywhere except in his office and he says the same thing about me. We met twice in Japan in the last month so I think we managed to bump to each other quite frequently. It's a pleasure to work with him and as well as all of the crew at ITTO. As he mentioned in his comments opening the conference two days ago, we will be collaborating again in the near future to hold a conference on Reduced Impact Logging in February. It should be quite interesting.
Of course, I would like to express my appreciation to DENR for the fabulous job in organizing and supporting this conference. It's not often when you go to a country that you get a kind of support that we have here starting with the Secretary and the Undersecretaries and Directors of organizations and agencies. These folks have a lot of things to do given the political environment here. I think that it's quite a tribute that they have given attention to this conference -- to have that kind of participation and representation.
And of course, my comments about Mayumi, the "Queen of Conference Organizers". I think the first meeting that she was involved in organizing was quite more than ten years ago when Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission had their 14th or 15th session here in the Philippines. And you think that the situation is difficult here. At that time, I think the day before the APFC was to open, there was a coup attempt. The airport was closed down and all the participants from all over the world had to be informed not to come. I had to call or somehow get in touch with my Boss who's going ahead from Washington as he is already on his way to the airport and tell him not to get on the airplane going to Manila. So you can imagine the logistics challenge that Mayumi and the team at that time had to face. We rescheduled the conference four or five months later. Henceforth, she has become such an organizational expert that she can do this in her sleep. Its nothing to organize a conference for two hundred, three hundred people or fifteen people or whatever. No problems at all.
But of course as Professor Lal mentioned, there's a nice team behind that makes up the whole organizing support staff. These folks worked tirelessly and many still have smiles on their face. They deserved another round of applause and appreciation. I'm always looking for other opportunities to organize meetings here in the Philippines because I know there is such a good support here.
Thank you very much.
For the first time, this will already be an easy job. I would just have to agree what has FAO stated in the closing statement. I would like to share all expression made by colleague Patrick Durst. I entirely agree with what you just mentioned and we are going to enhance the cooperation in the near future and we are going to sustain that.
In light of the specific objectives of this three-day Conference, I should confess that this is a successful one as far as the lessons learned and sharing of information is concerned. This is perhaps due to the fact that Yumi has made a very good design and outline of the topic presentation in cooperation with our colleague in FAO which covered a wide range of relevant issues in plantation forestry. I should also confess that we have a competent line up of speakers and excellent logistical support from Forest Management Bureau. These three combined factors guaranteed that there would be no failure in holding this Conference.
I understand that we shall have a conference proceeding but the question is what's next? This matter was raised during the chairman's session prior to the opening of this conference. I think it should be our reflection now -- what's next? We talked a lot, we discussed a lot and we also recommended a lot of things numbering at least fourteen concrete suggestions. To answer this, a few things can be immediately followed up when we go back to our respective countries to disseminate the updates that we shared here with our policymakers and relevant local or national bodies. We also committed that we will intensify networking activities using whatever networking system available.
May I underline this one in particular for our Filipino friends. Please initiate a concrete demonstration project here in this country as well I would like to welcome all other ITTO member countries. We would welcome any immediate proposals taking benefit of lessons learned from the expertise that we gained during this three-day conference. Again, I would like to encourage our Filipino colleagues and other ITTO member countries to submit proposals about plantations covering any aspect that you just recommended here. I welcome them from tomorrow and in the near future. We have two cycles in ITTO to receive proposals for support and assistance grants.
In behalf of ITTO, I would once again express my sincere thanks to DENR through Undersecretary Paje for their cooperation in addressing this issue and attempting to enhance a concrete implementation in the near future. I should not fail to mention my brother Director Ishmael of FMB for all the challenges given to me and his able assistant Mayumi Ma. Quintos. Four years ago, Mayumi was admitted to the hospital immediately after the ITTO sponsored conference on Community Forestry and she promised not to do so this time. To FAO, thank you. I should confess that my friendship with Patrick Durst has facilitated a lot of harmonization of ITTO's program and FAO's program particularly in the Asia and Pacific region where I am assigned to. I'm very proud that this harmonized work in the region can be an example for other regions.
This conference is a success because of your efforts and participation. Thank you very much and till we meet again!
Undersecretary Ramon J. Paje
In behalf of Secretary Cerilles, I would like to congratulate all the participants for your successful contribution to this historic conference. We believe to our minds that this is a historic conference because of the resounding support to the position of the government in this country to implement sustainable forest management. As you know, there is now a serious on-going debate in the Philippines whether to implement sustainable forestry or to implement a total logging ban. It is heartwarming that the presentations and discussions during the past three days only showed that there is indeed enough mechanism, enough approaches to make management of forestry sustainable.
We have taken the position of sustainable forest management rather than total log ban because we agree with you. We believe the solution is to produce timber. The solution is to plant and not to ban harvesting. If we have enough plantation, if we have enough wood then we can harvest. It is an endowment from God. It was given to us basically as a renewable resource for us to harvest. If we don't harvest it if we have enough, nature will take it away anyway.
This particular conference is a resounding support to that particular position. We still maintain in this country that we can make forestry sustainable and we believe that banning harvesting is basically to the term of the civil society a "nimbi" which is the ":not in my backyard" concept. You do not want to use wood from this country but you want to use the wood of Indonesia, of Africa, Malaysia, New Zealand and other countries.
The same concept applies to mining when you want to ban mining in this country but you continue to use mining products because you cannot survive for one day without using anything out of it. Still, you want to ban mining. Why? Because you believe it's polluted and not sustainable but you want to use the cement of other countries, the gold of other countries, the metal of other countries. So in the global sense, that is also "not in my backyard" concept.
To make your country sustainable you have to produce your own timber and we believe we can do it. There was a very good advertisement in this country with the concept "save the forest, use steel". That advertisement was so beautifully prepared that it even won an award. But to my mind, that is the dumbest advertisement that I ever viewed. I started to attack it and asked the people who prepared it to withdraw that advertisement. Thankfully, they did. Why? I argued that producing wood is more sustainable than producing steel. What do you do when you produce one cu. m. of steel? You have to excavate, destroy the surface, destroy the flora and fauna and then you have to emit tons of carbon dioxide in the process. But when you produce one cu.m of wood, you just plant new trees and wait for a while. The trees will sequester carbon dioxide in the process of growing. It is very clean and is renewable. That is why I believe that plantation forestry for sustainability of wood supply and of course for biodiversity is the solution to the needs of this region.
Again, I would like to extend my congratulations to all the participants for your contribution in this very successful conference. I also thank and congratulate ITTO, the FAO and the Secretariat, in particular Ms. Mayumi Quintos for a wonderful job. As a host, I would like to extend my apologies to everyone if we have committed any inconvenience to all of you during your stay in this country especially with the political situation in this country. If it has added color in your stay, we are also willing to get credit for it but if it has caused inconvenience to you, I would like to extend my utmost apologies in behalf of my Department and my boss Secretary Cerilles. Again, thank you very much and good afternoon.