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24. Philippines

Country data

Total land area, 1996 (thousand ha)


Total forest 1995 (thousand ha)/% of land area


Natural forest 1995 (thousand ha)


Change in forest cover 1990-95/annual change in %


Population 1997 (millions)/annual rate of change 1995-2000(%)


Rural population 1997 (%)


GNP per person in 1993 (US$)


Source of data: FAO-State of the World’s Forest 1999

General information

The Philippines is home to 10 major cultural groups and many ethnic minority groups. The agricultural sector plays a dominant role in the economy of the country. The industrial sector derives a large portion of its raw materials from the agricultural sector. Starting in 1992, the economy saw a modest growth. The Government is actively seeking to develop an economic framework that will create a more attractive investment climate and stimulate private sector business activities. Economic indicators show that the economic situation of the country is improving. This economic development was brought about by macro-economic stability, increasing foreign exchange, trade liberalisation, regulatory reforms, and privatisation.

The overall land use pattern of the country in 1999 was as follows (in million ha):

· Alienable or disposal (A or D) 14.145

· Forest lands 14.766

· Unclassified public lands 1.089

Over the past several decades, the country had become one of the most active producers and exporters of logs and other wood products in the Asia Pacific Region. These important contributions to the economy were not sustainable due to the massive conversion to other land uses, forest fires, and illegal logging, among other reasons. Regarding trade, the country had a wood and wood products export and import ratio in 1984 of 91:11, which changed to 51:49 in 1994. In 1998, the country was a net importer of wood and wood products; the total value of logs, lumber, plywood, and veneer was US$ 43.0 million, while imports totalled US$ 17.291 million.

The Government has crafted the Philippine Strategy for Sustainable Development (PSSD) as the basic framework for the country’s development to promote economic growth without putting into jeopardy the existence of the country’s biological resources and its biodiversity, vital ecosystem functions and the overall environmental quality. The PSSD has the following core activities:

· integration of environmental considerations in the decision making;

· proper pricing of resources;

· proper right reforms;

· establishment of an Integrated Protected Areas System;

· rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems;

· integration of population concerns and social welfare in development planning;

· inducing growth in rural areas;

· promotion of environmental education; and

· strengthening of citizen’s participation and constituency building.

The Department of Environment and Nature Resources (DENR) is the government institution for the management of national parks, and other protected areas. At the moment, there are 69 terrestrial areas designated as national parks, of which 59 are under the control of DENR and the rest are under the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA).

Forest resources

The estimated area of natural forests was about 5.39 million ha, or roughly 18% of the country’s total land area as follows (in million ha):

Dipterocarp Forests


Pine forests


Mangrove forests


Mossy forests


Submarginal forests



The forest development programmes, strategies and approaches have to be geared to the PSSD, of which the following three development strategies have been crafted: Master Plan for Forestry Development; Community - Based Forest Management Strategy; and the 14-Strategies of the present Administration.

1. Master Plan for Forestry Development

The Government launched the Master Plan for Forestry Development (MPFD) at the end of 1988. It is a nation-wide and aggregate blueprint for the development of the forestry sector across a 25-year horizon. It presents a holistic approach to the multi-dimensional concerns in forestry. The function of the MPFD is to point the direction that the country’s forestry sector should take, and to draw the support needed to move the sector in the prescribed direction. The international round table meeting to discuss the MPFD implementation was held in October 1990. The exercise was supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and FINNIDA.

The general goal of the MPFD is to achieve the following conditions:

· equitable access for all Filipinos to opportunities for the development and management of the forests and their benefits;

· scientific management, conservation and utilisation of forest resources by a mix of managers from the private sector and local communities in partnership with the Government; and

· fulfil, on a sustainable basis, the people’s needs for forest-based commodities, services and amenities.

The objectives of the MPFD are:

· to conserve the forest ecosystem and its diverse genetic resources;

· to meet the needs for wood and other forest products by placing all the country’s production forest under sustainable management;

· to protect the land and its resources against degradation such as desertification, soil erosion, floods and other ecological calamities through proper land management and practices;

· to contribute to the production of food, water, energy, and other basic needs by properly managing upland watersheds;

· to promote social justice and equity, and recognition of the rights of indigenous communities (ICCs) in the management, conservation and utilisation of forest resources; and

· to contribute to employment and growth of the national and local economies through fully developed forest-based industries.

The plan proposes 15 programmes, grouped under three umbrella programmes (five programmes in each umbrella pro-gramme):

· man and the environment;

· forest management and products development, which encompasses the management and utilisation of forest resources to meet the needs of people for products, employment, and economic development; and

· institutional development to address the relevant concerns to ensure that forest development proceeds in a planned and well prepared manner. A major focus of the MPFD has been to provide opportunities for people’s participation in forestry development, management, and utilisation so they will become dedicated advocates of forest conservation.

The MPFD exercise has been blended and incorporated into the country’s medium-term development plan for the period 1993-1998 and Philippine Agenda 21. Future programs, projects, investment planning, and implementation will be tied-up with the MPFD and must be incorporated in the five-year development and annual plans. The aggregate cost of the 15 programmes is US$ 76.06 billion over the 25-year period 1991-2015.

Mechanisms to direct the implementation of the plan have been institutionalised. A formal planning organisational structure was evolved and serves as a focal point for forestry planning in the country, including the creation of four groups: the National Planning Group, the Regional Planning Group, the Provincial Forestry Planning Group, and the Community Environment and Natural Resources Forestry Planning Group. In addition to the above groups, other relevant agencies, including NGOs, private organisations, organised communities and beneficiaries of the Plan will actively participate in the overall planning and implementation through a continuous dialogue of consultation and mobilisation.

Drastic structural changes and policy reforms have been implemented since the adoption of the MPFD. A number of laws, executive orders and administrative orders were issued to guide implementation of forestry programmes, projects, and activities in support of the MPFD. Laws were also issued to sustain development strategies that evolved from the progressive turn of events and demands in the country, including the following:

· Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 24, series of 1991 prohibits logging of the old growth, effective from 1st January 1992. Logging is banned on slopes of 50% gradient and over 1,000 meters above sea level. Demarcation of boundaries for permanent forests is nearing completion. Protection of these areas is being intensified under the newly institutionalised Forest Protection Information System (FPIS).

· Republic Act 7586, known as the National Integrated Protected Area System Act, protects and conserves the country’s forest resources, and addresses the problem of environmental degradation.

· Republic Act No. 7161 imposes a forest charge equivalent to 25% of the FOB price for all timbers extracted from the forests;

· Department Administrative Order (DOA) No.3, series of 1993 prohibits the use of the highland yarding system in the dipterocarp forests.

· DAO No. 60, series of 1993 provides for the conversion of the existing timber licence agreements (TLAs) to industrial forest management agreements (IFMAS) under a production/profit sharing agreement.

· Executive Order No. 263 adopts community-based forest management as the national strategy to ensure sustainable development of the country’s forestland resources. Consistent with the paradigm of shifting from commercial corporate utilisation, this envisions that organised local communities work together with the Government in the sustainable management of the forest resources.

A New Forestry Code (NPC) and an Environment Code (EC) designed to support the implementation of the MPFD were institutionalised. The Government, through the DENR, entered into a joint Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways, and the Civil Service Commission for urban greening, through an Adopt-a-Street/Park Programme.

Policy reforms streamline forest resources development. Among these policies are:

· a ban on logging in the old growth forest and critical areas;

· a ban on the export of logs and lumber;

· integration of all community-based forest management programmes and projects;

· the sustainable management of residual forests;

· application of appropriate technology on forest harvesting;

· improvement of forest-based industries;

· capability strengthening for forest protection and support institutions; establishment of a centre for forest pest management and research; inclusion of gender concerns in the development process; integration of environmental impact assessment; research and development.

One of the important MPFD long-term policy recommendations is that all the forest resources should be under efficient and equitable management, conservation, and utilisation for the needs of the people for forest-based commodities and services through appropriate means and on a sustainable basis. Among the important policy reforms are the people-oriented forestry programmes and forest plantation development programmes.

Under the people-oriented forestry programme are several components such as: the Integrated Social Forestry Programme (ISFP), Forest Land Management Agreement (FLMA), and Community Based Forest Management (CBFM). The ISFP recognises the needs of the forest occupants for the land they till by granting them a Certificate of Stewardship Contract, which provides them with a maximum of 7 ha of land with a tenure security for 25 years, renewable for another 25 years based on performance. FLA is a production-sharing contract entered into by the government and a family, community, or corporation for the management of plantation areas that have been established under the contract reforestation scheme. CBFM is a concept of allocating a portion of the public forest to a given community to manage.

Under the industrial forest plantation system, the government encourages private investors to engage in industrial forest plantations. Incentives available for investment in plantations include, among others:

· income tax exemption for three years after the start of commercial harvest;

· tax and duty-free importation of capital equipment;

· tax credit on domestic capital;

· deduction for labour expenses after the tax holiday;

· exemption from wharfage dues and export taxes and duties; and

· exemption from the contractor’s tax.

Recently, the Socialised Industrial Forest Management Programme (SIFMP) was launched which recognises the individual rights of equitable access to natural resources development and utilisation. The Programme intends to enable individuals, families, co-operatives or corporations to engage in plantation establishment ranging from one ha to 500 ha. Qualified individuals/groups would be given the following incentives:

· the right to harvest, sell and utilise plantation crops;

· export of logs, lumber and other forest products harvested from SIFMP in accordance with the government allocation system;

· exemption from payment of forest charges; and

· entitlement to appropriate and reasonable compensation for the developments in the area.

It must be remembered that the Master Plan was formulated in 1988 and that several new international and national initiatives have taken place since Rio, 1992, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) and the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF). Several partners are of the view that the MPFD needs to be assessed or reviewed for its achievements, usefulness, weaknesses, threats, issues and problems. As requested by DENR, the UNDP Global Programme on Forests (PROFOR) commissioned a two-member fact finding mission in July 1999. The mission had the opportunity to meet with partners, including DENR, representatives from NGOs, business, academia, and bilateral and multilateral donor agencies. The objectives of the mission were to make a quick appraisal of the status of the MPFD in the context of current national and international policy environments relevant to the forest sector, and advise on future actions.

The main important outcomes of the report include the following:

· The country now has the lowest per capita forest cover in the region, i.e. 0.08 ha per capita; the deforestation rate of about 100,000 ha per year is considered to be very high. The causes have been a mix of bad policies (indiscriminate and uncontrolled logging) and the rapidly expanding population pressure (upland deforestation by settlers).

· The MPFD is very comprehensive and detailed in terms of its annual work activities. Following the MPFD, regional and provincial plans were also drawn up. The quantitative targets are the basis for its projection over the plan period (1991-2015), while focusing on capacity building in its immediate-term objectives. The MPFD does not clearly link how different programmes are co-ordinated, and how they will lead to achieving higher level objectives;

· Almost all of the first ten component programmes contain institutional components in the last five programme components. Therefore, there is some duplication and confusion amongst the components of the programmes;

· Due several reasons, the mission faced some difficulties in the process of collecting information on the status of the MPFD implementation. These include no annual targets; some programmes have accumulated targets for each period; several changes have been made under the people-oriented forestry programme (the largest programme in MPFD); and the formats for targets are inconsistent with the accomplishments.

· Implementation of some of programme components was below the targets. Some programme components exceeded the targets, including the following:

* People-oriented forestry exceeded the target, i.e. 4.3 million ha against a target of 2.9 million ha;

* the total number of projects under soil conservation and watershed management is almost nine times more than what was targeted in the MPFD;

* the buffer zone management area was three times greater than the target i.e. 26,500 ha against 9,000 ha; and the protected area system coverage was over eight times over the target, i.e. 1.4 million ha against a target of 0.17 million ha;

* urban forestry was able to establish many times more mini parks/forests and roadside plantings than were targeted

* forest protection areas of about 10 million ha were placed under effective protection; the DENR has been equipped a helicopter and a vessel, and constituted 206 forest protection committees to effect surveillance and prevent illegal logging.

In addition to the above assessment, substantial consultations have taken place concerning the reformulation of the Master Plan to gear to the new international and national initiatives toward sustainable forest development.

2. Community Based Forest Management Strategy (CBFM)

The Government has adopted the CBFM as the national strategy to ensure sustainable development of the country’s forestland resources pursuant to the provisions of Executive Order No. 263 of 19 July 1995. The CBFM provides mechanisms for the efficient and sustained management of forestlands and coastal areas through responsible development, protection, conservation, and utilisation of forest resources by organised and empowered local communities.

CBM applies to all areas classified as forestlands, including allowable zones within protected areas not covered by prior vested rights. It includes the following features:

· security of tenure - The CBFM agreement entitles forest communities to use and develop the forestland resources for a duration of 25 years, renewable for an additional 25 years;

· social equity - social justice is a basic principles underlying CBFM in granting forest communities, tenure and comprehensive rights to use and develop forest resources;

· DENR and Local Government Units (LGUs) partnership is vital to the success of the CBFM. DENR and LGUs, in active collaboration with other sectors, are working together to help strengthen local forest communities in managing forest resources;

· investment capital and market linkage - CBM helps participants gain access to investment capital, identify markets, and build marketing capabilities.

3. Fourteen-point strategies of the Administration

Of the 14 strategies under the present Administration, 10 are directly focused on forest resources management as follows:

· delineation of the permanent forest boundary;

· effective protection of existing forest resources and rehabilitation of degraded lands;

· development of an integrated land use plan;

· revitalisation of the forest-based industries and enhancement of private investment in the forestry sector rehabilitation activities;

· strengthening the implementation of community-based forest management;

· upgrading the capability and encourage private sector support to the natural resources and environmental research sector;

· strengthening the partnership between DENR and LGUs;

· simplifying the EIA process;

· strengthening collaboration with UN agencies and donor communities in environmental protection and sustainable use of natural resources; and

· promotion of sectoral complementation.

Major programme/projects

There are several programmes/projects in the forestry sector development, including the following: 1) National Forestation Programme; 2) Forest Protection; and 3) Special Forestry Projects.

1) Forestation programme

Tin July 1986, the Government launched the programme that aimed at the rehabilitation of 1.4 million ha of denuded forestlands from 1986 to 2000 at a rate of 100,000 ha annually. Some of the major activities are as follows:

· Government Sector Initiatives, which is composed of several activities as follows:

* Regular reforestation activities. There are 229 regular reforestation projects with a total area of 1,128,841 ha. In addition, there are 43,368 ha of plantations carried out by the Government and NGOs.

* Urban and roadside forestry. In 1998 there were 114 mini-forests established throughout the country with an area of 139 ha. In the same year, nation-wide planting was also conducted with an accomplishment of 269 km.

* Watershed rehabilitation/management programme. Major activities undertaken include reforestation, protection and development of natural forests, community/social forestry, erosion control and enhancement of environmental resources and an information and educational campaign.

* Forest sector project. This project is funded by ADB/OECF.

* Let’s go green. It aims to revitalise and operationalise the greening of national/provincial/city/municipal highways and the river/stream banks stabilisation nation-wide.

* Other Government agencies initiative.

· Private sector initiatives are composed of several activities as follows:

* Industrial plantation programme. As of June 1999, there were 192 IFMAs/ITPLas and 469 SIFMAs with total areas of 502,276 ha and 9,599 ha respectively, of which 120,434 ha have been planted.

* Private forest plantation development. As of June 1999, there were 42 private plantation developers covering an area of 2,922 ha.

* Mandatory plantation development. The plantation activities were in line with the issuance of forestland grazing lease agreements and forestland grazing permits, which was started in November 1982.

2) Forest protection

It covers several activities, including forest law enforcement and resources control monitoring through the deployment of forest rangers in critical areas and by the use of aircraft for aerial surveillance, mapping and telecommunications; integrated pest control and management to provide protection to the natural and plantation forests against pest and diseases; and forest fire control to reduce the incidence of wildfires in fire-prone areas and regions.

Around 288 illegal logging hotspots were neutralised, and 499 check-points were established. These led to the confiscation of illegal cutting of 8,655.26 m3 in 1998, and a total of 5,912 m3 for the first semester of 1999.

3) Special forestry projects

On 10 October 1996, DENR integrated and unified all the people oriented forestry programmes of the government under CBFM. As of June 1999, a total of 4,075 sites covering an area of 5,040,342 ha were established nation-wide. Of these, CMFM tenurial instruments covered 3,926,266 ha. The specific programmes/projects integrated under CBFM include the following:

· Forestry sector project (FSP). It is being implemented through financial assistance from ADB, Japan-OECF, and the Philippines Government. At present, the FSP is being implemented in 207 subproject sites covering an area of 117,000 ha. As of June 1999, a total of 38,482 ha had been planted under the ADB component, or 103% of the target. Meanwhile 27,186 ha have been planted under the OECF component out of 80,000 ha targets.

· National Resources Management Programme (NRMP). It was conceived for the purpose of helping DENR develop a policy environment conducive to ecologically sound and sustainable economic growth in collaboration with local government units, communities, NGOs and the private corporations;

· Community Forestry Project. It is funded through a grant from the German Government. It started in 1997 and will end in 2001. The project aims to attain the sustainable development of the entire province of Quirio through agroforestry, community forestry, land use planning and resource management, rural financing and capacity-building of local government units and DENR personnel.

· The Low Income Upland Communities Project (LIUCP). It is an integrated area development undertaking in the province of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro. It was initiated in January 1990 and will be terminated in December 2000. The main activities include community organising and co-operatives development, resource access and management, agroforestry, reforestation and livelihood, and infrastructure and social services delivery.

· The Watershed Resources Development Project (WRDP). It aims to formulate a national watershed strategy and long-term programme of investment for the sustainable management of watershed areas in the country.

Trade and industries

During 1960s and 1970s, the export of logs and wood products contributed to generating foreign exchange earnings. From 1990 to 1999, there was a significant decrease in the number of timber licence agreements (TLA), from 75 in 1990 to only 18 in August 1999. Consequently, the annual allowable cut (AAC) declined from 4.7 million m3 to only 0.5 million m3, or by 89.4%.

There were 55 active sawmills, of which 11 operated with timber concessions, with annual logs requirements of 904,000 m3 in 1998. The number of active sawmills gradually decreased from 1990 to 1998 at a rate of 9.8% per annum, due to the insufficient supply and high cost of raw materials. The average recovery rate of the sawmills was estimated at 60%.

In 1998, the country had 19 veneer and 33 plywood plants with a total annual log requirement of 2,953 thousand m3.

The exports of major forest products drastically declined from 1991 to 1999. There was no export of logs in 1998. Export bans on logs and lumber were imposed in 1986 and 1989, respectively. These policies have encouraged the development of value-added products for export market.

Unlike exports, imports of wood and wood products have increased significantly. In 1998, the total import of logs was US$ 4,875 million, and imports of lumber and plywood were also increased substantially. Table 1 shows export and import data of the country. In 1998, the country was a net importer of wood and wood products.

Table 1: Exports and imports (in 1000 US$)





























Focal point
Jose D. Malvas, Jr.
Director, Forest Management Bureau
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Visayas Avenue
Quezon City, the Philippines
Telephone: 632-927-4788
Fax: 632-920-0374


You love him, although you have not seen him, and you believe
in him, although you do not now see him.
(quoted from I will return to the Father)

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