Manila/Bangkok, 27 Jun 2011 -- The Forest Management Bureau (FMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippines is awarded the prestigious Edouard Saouma Award for Excellence today by FAO at their headquarters in Rome, Italy, for outstanding achievements in forest restoration implementing the Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) project. Funded by the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) of FAO with a total budget of just US$253 000, the initiative has changed the way the local community thinks about their home.
Carried out on 20 hectare demonstration areas in the provinces of Bohol, Bataan and Davao del Norte, the ANR project provided hands-on training for the local community in an ingeniously low-cost technique to help the forests help themselves. Teams of local people scour the land looking for tree seedlings that have started growing naturally but are struggling to break through the carpet of tough grass. Once a seedling is spotted, the team weed a ring around it to prevent the grass from taking the water and nutrients it needs to grow, also helping sunlight to penetrate the area. Grasses are regularly pressed flat until the tree seedlings have a chance to grow above the grass and shade it out.
Because the approach makes use of what’s already growing in the ground, ANR costs half as much as traditional replanting. The outcome is a dense multi-species forest cover, ideal for protection of watersheds and preventing soil erosion. To scale up the work initiated by the project, the government has allocated special funding to support assisted natural regeneration on over 9 000 hectares of forest land.
FMB’s active partners in ANR were the residents’ of local communities, the local government, and the Bagong Pagasa Foundation (BPF), an NGO with extensive experience in forest conservation. Drawing on results from the Philippine experience, FAO will launch ANR this year in four other countries in Southeast Asia – Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.
The Edouard Saouma Award for Excellence is conferred to a national or regional institution which has implemented with particular efficiency a project funded by the TCP. Particular attention is given to the nature, the sustainability and the replicability of the achievements and the catalytic effects generated. The Award was presented by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf during a special ceremony at the beginning of the 37th Session of the FAO Conference at FAO headquarters.
Neria Andin, OIC Director of FMB, and Atty. Jonas Leones, Head Executive Assistant and representative of DENR Secretary Ramon JP Paje, attended the ceremony in Rome.