Dolores R. Catindig
Background on basic policies
The Philippine Constitution of 1987 particularly Article II, Sec. 16, Article XII, Sec.1-6 and Article Xlll identified the environment and natural resources as among the major concerns of the government. Forest management in the country is governed by Presidential Decree No. 705, as amended, otherwise known as the "Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines". This forestry code outlines the policies of the State in the management of the forest and its resources.
The Philippine Sustainable Forest Management Strategy (PSFMS) provides the framework for all forestry programs, projects and activities. This framework is consistent with the provisions of the Philippine Constitution and supports the Local Government Code of the Philippines (R.A. 7160), the National Integrated Protected Area System Act (NIPAS Act), and the Indigenous People Rights Act (IPRA Law). It is also supportive of the government’s commitment to relevant international agreements and covenants. Executive Order No. 263 (E.O 263) or Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) is the national strategy for ensuring the sustainable development of the country’s forest resources.
Major forest policies studied/reviewed (1995-2001)
Result of review
A. Review of the Philippine forest policies in the following areas:
Forestry & forest resources
Forest land uses
Forest sustainability vis-à-vis CBFM
Institutional issues and concerns
B. Forest Plantation Development
Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA)
C. Government share for the use of forest resources
D. Forest charges
There is an opportunity and need to craft and package a "simplified and comprehensive Philippine Forestry Policy" in one document
No legal impediments to using the WEM framework and the CBFM for forestry planning implementation and monitoring of forestry programs
Consider the forestry system and other sectoral systems as integral components of the total sustainable development system
Population growth will continue to increase the pressure to use forest areas for non-forestry uses
Sustainable forestry, which is infinitely superior to a total logging ban, should be pursued
Forest and other land use are in disarray due to the absence of comprehensive national land-use policy
Inadequate human resource skills in government, LGUs, POs and NGOs
Loose partnership and poor collaboration between the government and LGUs
The requirement to subject a project for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) system should be simplified.
Re-alignment of the policy to conform with the existing laws on NIPAS, IPRA, Local Government Code and CBFM
Improper pricing for the use of forest resources
The "rental system" applied for use of forestland and its resources no longer conforms with the Constitution.
The price data being submitted by the regional offices as a basis for the computation for forest charges differ considerably.
Programs and policies related to social forestry projects and other community or people-oriented programs are fragmented.
Formulated a comprehensive policy which is labeled as the Philippine Forestry Policy 2001 (PFP 2001) fully embracing the WEM framework
Crafted 14 Forest Operational Policies addressing the six major areas of concern (see Annex A)
A simplified EIA system
The new policy takes into consideration the existing laws on NIPAS, IPRA, Local Government Code and CBFM
Economic instruments were developed and adopted.
Developed a system that integrated and improved price-monitoring activities.
Executive Order 263 was promulgated integrating all people-oriented projects.
Currently under deliberation by the FMB Executive Committee and the DENR Policy Technical Working Group
Facilitates the approval of forest plantation applications
Communities affected by IFMA project are consulted.
Proper pricing for the use of forestland and its resources.
Price monitoring reports have improved and facilitated the determination of rates of forest charges
Easy supervision of the program.
DENR = Department of Environment and Natural Resources; FMB = Forest Management Bureau; LGU = local government unit; PO= People’s organization; WEM = Watershed Eco-system Management
Philippine forestry: Policy reviews
The main purpose of policy reviews is to assess the effectiveness of a certain policy with regard to attaining its objectives and to determine whether a policy is to be maintained, revised or abolished. Forest policy reviews in the Philippines can be described as being reactive in the sense that often reviews are conducted only in response to issues that arise in the course of implementing a policy or project. Policy reviews are not systematized within the DENR and not conducted periodically. Some of the reasons can be attributed to weak monitoring and evaluation of policies, which leads to information gaps. Also feedback mechanisms are absent, which constrains better-quality policy reviews. Another reason is related to funding, as only limited funds are programmed for policy studies. Capabilities to conduct policy research and analysis are rather weak.
Information sources for policy reviews include the different programs and projects of the DENR, other government institutions, accomplishment reports, private research groups conducting policy work in collaboration with the DENR and to some extent, the Internet.
Opportunities for conducting policy reviews include the proposal for the development of an information system structure within the DENR, which foresees the provision of the required data for the department’s planning and decision making. The proposal entitled "Forestry Statistical Information System" has been approved for funding by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). It is most likely to be implemented within this year. In the area of capacity building, the National Forest Programme Facility of the FAO could also provide important support.
Sustainable forest management (SFM) in the Philippines
The Forestry Code is still pending in Congress due to the unresolved issue of the total logging ban as against selective logging.
Inadequate funds to sustain forestry programs. Many aspects detailed in the Master Plan for Forestry Development have not been addressed due to funding constraints.
Failure to establish forestry as a viable land-use option compared to other land uses.
Pressure exerted by a fast-growing population resulting in the conversion of forest areas to non-forest uses.
Lack of data/information that are vital to resource planning and decision making.
Inadequate funds to sustain forestry programs.
Weak human resource skills, especially in the field offices, to implement forestry programs and projects.
Weak enforcement of forestry laws and regulations.
Challenges for SFM
To empower marginal upland communities to increase their income from the forests and thus alleviate poverty.
Mainstreaming collaborative efforts between LGUs, the private sector and the government in SFM. This means equipping LGUs with the technical capabilities in forest conservation, development and management.
Increase the attractiveness of investing in forest plantations through incentives.
Capacity building to address emerging aspects such as urban forestry, carbon sequestration, ecotourism, collaborative forest management between the government and the LGUs, product certification and criteria and indicators (C&I).
The export ban for wood coming from the natural forests, development of appropriate C&I for forest management, plans to pursue certification and ecolabeling, and adopting the WEM framework in planning and policy formulation are some of the opportunities for SFM in the Philippines
Key areas/topics for policy studies for EC-FAO Partnership Program support
Incentives for private capital flows into forestry to include tenure issues, security of forest resources, taxation, product development, marketing, financing schemes etc.
Development of C&I.
Review of export restrictions.
Operational policies proposed under the Philippine Forest Policy 2001:
A basic forestry code that will repeal and replace the existing Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines (P.D. 705, as amended) entitled "Sustainable Forestry Development Act".
An administrative order adopting the WEM framework and the PFP 2001 as implementing guidelines.
An administrative order re: preparation of a comprehensive manual of procedures for forest management planning using the watershed and ecosystem management framework.
A joint memorandum circular with other concerned government departments and offices and the private sector re: development of 25-year physical framework plans for major river basins in the Philippines.
Amendment to the rules and regulations governing the implementation of the CBFM program.
Amendment to the existing policy in the issuance of Private Land Timber Permit and Special Private Land Timber Permits.
Revision of the existing policy on the regulation of forest tree seed production, collection and seed disposition.
Amending, redefining and expanding some delegated functions and authorities to regional and field officers to increase efficiency in the implementation of the CBFM program based on the WEM approach.
Amendment of the existing policy to reconstitute the decentralized function of the Ecosystem Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) of the DENR into a strengthened central forest research institution to provide scientific and technological support for national policy and program planning, implementation and monitoring.
Amendment of an existing policy re: strengthening the capacity and capability of the Human Resource and Development Service of DENR to develop and maintain personnel resources in sufficient numbers and qualification to operate DENR’s forestry programs and projects effectively.
Amendment of existing policy re: unification of all IEC and extension functions and strengthen integrated IEC-Central Office programs and projects.
Amend, streamline and simplify the existing performance monitoring system for DENR programs and projects.
Use of resource economics issues, recommendations and discussions as bases of proposals for new policy, administrative orders, and circulars.
Institutionalization of the Environmental and Natural Resources Accounting (ENRA) at all levels particularly at the provincial LGU and Sustainable Development Unit levels.