Forest Management Bureau
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
In behalf of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Forest Management Bureau, I warmly welcome you all to the Philippines.
As chair of the International Conference on Timber Plantation Development Executive Committee, I hope the preparations we have undertaken for this meeting will make your attendance a productive experience and worth remembering.
At this point, I would like to humbly inform this gathering that this International Conference on Timber Plantation Development started out as a project idea the Forest Management Bureau submitted to the ITTO in 1997. During that time we were in the process of reviewing our Industrial Forest Plantation policies and programs. Then last year our incumbent Secretary of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), recognizing the enormous and far reaching importance of timber plantations on the vigorous implementation of the sustainable management of our forest resources strongly indorsed our proposal for approval to the ITTO for funding which it very gladly did.
And for our traditional supporter to our various forestry programs, the FAO, its involvement to this conference dates back from the year 1998 when it signified its strong support of our proposal to hold this Conference.
At this juncture, I would like therefore to take this opportunity to thank those who helped us organize this conference. Our profound gratitude to the ITTO for supporting our ideas and initiatives by way of funding our proposal to hold this gathering. We also thank the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for their assistance in preparing the technical details of the conference as well as in identifying and funding some speakers.
I also would like to extend our sincere gratitude to our distinguished speakers for accepting our invitation to present and discuss the forestry topics requested of them. Lastly, we thank our international and local participants whose presence here today is a clear manifestation of growing awareness and wide interest towards timber plantation development.
For sure the lessons learned from this meeting would go a long way in realizing our respective country's desire to achieve sound and successful timber plantation development programs.
Welcome again to our beautiful Philippines and may Allah Bless us all.
Thank you and good day.
Projects Manager, Reforestation and Forest Management
International Tropical Timber Organization
At the outset, allow me to offer this distinguished gathering the greetings of ITTO's Executive Director, Dr. Manoel Sobral Filho. He sends his best wishes to all of you for the success of this Conference. ITTO is deeply honored to extend a warm welcome to dignitaries from the Philippines' Department of Natural Resources, who have found time in their busy lives to be with us and to contribute to our deliberations based on the perspectives of their high offices.
As an organization, the ITTO is dedicated to achieving the conservation and wise utilization of tropical forest resources through sustainable management. The ITTO is a unique organization, in which developed and developing countries are united in their efforts as equal partners. This concept and principle of equal partnership between the two groups of countries is significant in the ITTO and is reflected in various ways.
The ITTO places equal importance on sustainable forest management, forest industry development and the maintenance and expansion of international trade in tropical timber. This is because it recognizes that increased processing for export will not only increase employment and export earnings of producing countries, but will also assist in capturing a much higher share of resource rents and in attaining international trade prices which reflect the costs of sustainable forest management.
As a forum for consultation and co-operation in the promotion of conservation, management and sustainable development of tropical forests, the theme of this Conference, focusing on timber plantation development, is within ITTO's mandate. Indeed, one of the Organization's objectives, as listed in the International Tropical Timber Agreement 1994, is: " To encourage members to support and develop industrial tropical timber reforestation and forest management activities as well as rehabilitation of degraded forest land, with due regard for the interest of local communities dependent on forest resources".
In recognition of the increasingly significant role played by plantations in supplying timber markets, ITTO published its Guidelines for the Establishment and Sustainable Management of Planted Tropical Forests, in 1993. Between 1980 and 1990 the area of land in the Tropics turned over to plantations increased from 18 million hectares to 44 million hectares ( a rise of 150%). Indeed, the establishment of new forest plantations emerged as a prominent component in many of the ITTO producing countries. In recent years there has been a growing realization that the viability of a plantation should no longer be regarded in terms of financial returns alone. Plantations must also be seen in the context of their surrounding ecosystem and consideration of potential environmental and social impacts is fundamental.
Mr. Secretary and distinguished participants, there are some compelling reasons why the option of plantation forestry should be thoroughly explored in tropical countries:
Firstly, there are vast areas of devastated forests and degraded lands in many tropical countries that may be converted into productive forest plantations. In this respect, I would like to report to you that at the recently concluded 29th Session of the International Tropical Timber Council, held last week in Yokohama, Dr. Sobral Filho proposed that ITTO develop guidelines for the rehabilitation of degraded tropical forests, perhaps in partnership with IUCN and other bodies. He also proposed that the Organization should have in place a project program to rehabilitate 1 million hectares of such land within 3 years. Perhaps delegates at this conference will consider how they might assist in achieving this target by developing high-quality projects for consideration by the International Tropical Timber Council on this theme;
Secondly, forest plantations will contribute to restore the ecological health of our planet through carbon sequestration and other environmental benefits;
Thirdly, forest plantations in tropical countries, with their superior growth rates, offer the hope of meeting demand for domestic timber consumption and international trade; and
Fourthly, and of vital importance, forest plantations may in some cases help relieve pressure on our remaining precious tropical forests and their rich biodiversity.
Important and urgent though it is that we pursue initiatives to promote plantation forestry, we must not neglect our efforts to conserve, manage and sustainably develop the natural tropical forests. The two-pronged approach, through plantation development and natural forest management, must be pursued with equal vigour.
We are pleased to note that the work of DENR, ITTO's contact institution for the Philippines, has benefited from several ITTO-funded projects. These include:
Plantation development and forest community involvement through CBFM scheme at Nueva Viscaya, Solano; Please be advised that this particular Project is uniquely co-sponsored by a private Japanese department store, ITO YOKADO.
Conservation on biological diversity in the forest production forest in Surigao del Sur;
Collection and Trade of Tropical Non-Wood Forest Products; and
Processing and Utilization of Almaciga Resin as sources of Industrial Chemicals, and several others.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I mentioned earlier the word `partnership'. ITTO has always sought partnerships at all levels of its activities, from the international to the local. I am very pleased to see at this conference the participation of officials from government, the private sector, scientists of various disciplines, practitioners and NGOs. This interaction between stakeholders can only be positive; by bringing together our different areas of expertise we can undertake synergized actions in promoting sustainable forest development, including development of timber plantation.
Let me now conclude my remarks by paying tribute to our host, the DENR, for organizing this timely Conference. I wish also to extend appreciation to the dedicated the Executive Committee and the Organizing Committee of the Conference.
At this juncture, I should not fail to acknowledge with deep gratitude the generous support of the Government of Japan in financing this project through ITTO, as well as many other projects in the Philippines. I also warmly thank our partner intergovernmental organization, FAO, which sponsored several speakers and participants to join us in this gathering, and provided inputs for organizing this event. We are delighted that more than ever we are enjoying a high level of cooperation with FAO, in particularly FAO RAPA in Bangkok. To finish with an advertisement, I would like to mention that FAO and ITTO have decided to jointly sponsor another international conference on reduced impact logging to be held in Sarawak, Malaysia from 26 February to 1 March 2001.
With that I will conclude my remarks and wish you well for the rest of the Conference. Thank you for your kind attention.
Patrick B. Durst
Senior Forestry Officer
Food and Agriculture Organization
It's a great pleasure for me to here this morning and offer a few remarks on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization. These comments would normally be provided by Mr. Sang Mu Lee, FAO Representative here in the Philippines, but Mr. Lee is enjoying a well-deserved home leave, so I'm left with the honor.
We're here this week to discuss one of the most interesting and challenging aspects of forestry development today - that is timber plantation development. this topic is particularly important for Asia-Pacific countries, many of which have limited natural forest resources. Others have taken steps to severely curtail timber harvesting in natural forest through logging bans and other restrictions and expansion of protected areas.
Globally, plantations comprise only 3.5 percent of all forests in terms of area, but already they provide 22 percent of all industrial wood. This percentage is likely to increase substantially in the near future.
The degree to which plantations can increase their role in supplying timber depends on many factors, however. Of course, there are a number of technical issues, including the need to improve planting stock, site preparation, management, and harvesting. I contend, however, that the greatest constraints to increased success in plantation development are economic and policy in nature. For the most part, we have a pretty good idea how to grow trees. So, why do we see some countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia and China, achieving quite impressive plantation development, while many other have had relatively disappointing results?
The clearest explanations seem to lie in the relative policy environments. Even fast-growing species require considerable time for investors to recover investments from trees. Therefore, we can't expect companies - much less small farmers - to invest in tree planting unless they have secure tenure, a stable political and macroeconomic environment, a minimum of hassles in selling harvested timber, and favorable tax treatment. A stable, consistent policy environment, that not only allows, but encourages, people to make money from growing trees is needed if plantation programs are to succeed.
For the past couple of years, as I have traveled around the region, several people have urged FAO to organize a meeting to address the economic, policy and incentives issues related to plantation development. About the same time, ITTO and DENR began discussions about this conference. I was very pleased that ITTO and DENR agreed to have FAO join the team in organizing and supporting this conference. It not only allows us to avoid duplication, but it helps build a foundation for coordinated follow-up. And, I think it sends a positive message to the common members of FAO and ITTO that we are working together in a coordinated manner.
FAO and ITTO share similar mandates related to fostering exchanges of information and facilitating the sharing of technical expertise among countries. And both organizations support field activities aimed at bringing about improved forest management. Therefore, it makes a great deal of sense that we work together on this and similar areas of importance for sustainable forest management.
Of course, it's a great pleasure to collaborate again with DENR in organizing this conference. FAO has enjoyed many very positive experience working together with DENR in organizing several workshop, seminars and conferences of all sizes in the past. I have full confidence that the DENR team will do their usual fabulous job in organizing and hosting this event. And for the international participants - especially those who have not been to the Philippines before - I'm sure that before the end of the week you'll come to understand why the Philippines is so famous for its hospitality.
I'm personally very much looking forward to the conference. We have an impressive group of presenters and topics line up. And we should have ample opportunity to discuss some of the key issues in plantation development and recommendations for practical follow-up. I hope all of you find the conference productive, informative and enjoyable.
Antonio H. Cerilles
Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources
It is indeed a great privilege for the Philippines to host this International Conference on Timber Plantation Development --- the forestland management strategy that has emerged in the light of the need to rehabilitate denuded forest lands, meet the increasing demand for wood products and conserve the remaining natural forests worldwide within the purview of sustainable development. It will be quite noteworthy to see how plantation forestry evolved in each of the participating countries and how this strategy has undergone modifications as a result of changing trends especially in the areas of technology advances, supporting government policies, resource mobilization and multi-sectoral participation.
The Philippines is among the numerous countries that recently adopted timber plantation development as a strategy in rehabilitating and re-vegetating denuded forestlands. I say recently because compared to other countries like France who can boast of a plantation program that spans centuries, ours on the other hand, can be considered as still in the incipient stage. Other countries have undergone experiences similar to what we are undergoing right now in terms of massive conversion of forestlands to other land uses in order to meet the other needs of a rapidly increasing population. But through their successful timber plantation programs, they have managed to bring their forests back and have maintained them as such despite the presence of other competing land use options.
That is why we will surely benefit from this conference by learning from the experiences and lessons from other countries. In return, we offer you our modest experiences in implementing various kinds of strategies in the field of plantation forestry. These strategies include programs designed for the establishment of plantations for commercial and protection purposes. In promoting commercial plantations, the government assumes the role of a catalyst and facilitator by providing incentives aimed at encouraging the private sector to invest in the forest plantation business.
This strategy accommodates big and small investors alike. For big investors, the governing instrument is the Industrial Forest Management Agreement (IFMA). This tenurial instrument gives private investors use rights, for a period of 25 years renewable to another 25 years, to denuded forest areas ranging from 500 to 40,000 hectares. For small investors, we have the Socialized Industrial Forest Management Agreement (SIFMA) through which we grant essentially the same rights except that the areas provided are smaller. These areas range from 1 to 10 hectares for individuals and families and up to 500 hectares to cooperatives and associations. As of 1999, we have approved 169 IFMAs covering an aggregate area of 454, 113 hectares and 604 SIFMAs covering a total area of 15,139 hectares.
In protection areas, reforestation programs are largely undertaken by the government. For this purpose, we have the Watershed Rehabilitation Program, the DENR Regular Reforestation Projects and Urban and Roadside Forestry Program. The Watershed Rehabilitation Program aims to restore, through vegetative and/or structural measures, the former lush and life supporting state of watersheds nationwide. The DENR Regular Reforestation Projects are implemented through the traditional scheme of reforestation by administration, which involves the direct hiring of laborers, by the government. The Urban and Roadside Forestry Program involves the active participation of government agencies as well as of the private sector in tree planting activities within urban and sub-urban areas.
Notwithstanding our efforts however, many problems remain to be addressed. Finding solutions to these problems is one of the objectives of this undertaking. To make this conference productive and meaningful, I enjoin all delegates and participants to focus discussions on the relevant issues and problems in timber plantation development. These should include issues on implementing policies, financing and technology development and transfer. The solutions to these problems involve the re-orientation of implementation systems and resource allocation policies of bureaucracies, the private sector, non-government organizations and research institutions.
In view of this direction, let us aim to answer some of the following questions. On the issue of implementing policies, how can investments in timber plantation development be further encouraged? As we all know, this venture is a long-term investment and in the economic sense, this will mean trade-offs as investments in other business opportunities will have to be sacrificed. In the Philippines, one plantation rotation may range from 8 to 15 years depending on the species used and the end products desired. The long gestation period alone makes this business a risky one. The challenge for us therefore is on how can we convince the businessman to put his money in such a risky venture? This is where we should find time to examine the programs of countries such as Finland and France where the rotation of their species may reach 40 to 50 years, yet tree planters there have sufficient economic incentives to maintain millions of hectares as tree plantations. Under what investment environments are they operating?
On technological development and transfer, it is but natural for some countries to keep some of their plantation technology and expertise a secret since this gives them a distinct advantage over other countries in terms of timber production and trade. We can understand this as a patriotic gesture but sadly a narrow view at the same time. In this conference let us espouse a wider view for this planet. Let us always bear in mind that there are no boundaries when it comes to environmental degradation. For example, global warming affects all countries and therefore all the planet's technological know-how that can mitigate its effects, especially those that enhance timber plantation development, should be shared by the global community.
On financing, timber plantation establishment requires massive amounts of financial resources to operate a long-term investment. Under normal circumstances, commercial banks will not likely provide credit for this risky venture. This is further aggravated by the fact that in most countries, untitled public forestlands are not accepted as collateral. Are there ways by which financing can be availed under special terms taking into consideration these inherent constraints? Can we work for financing schemes to be supported by international development and financing organizations that can provide funds exclusively for timber plantation development?
I believe that this conference is timely and we will surely learn from each other. I hope that the concerns I just mentioned will encourage everyone to make timber plantation development programs more effective and extensive. The vision of this conference is laudable but we need to translate it into reality.
Thank you and I wish you a productive conference.