Timber plantation development is acknowledged to be a key forest management strategy to address the problem of deforestation and to supplement the diminishing supply of timber from the natural forests. Plantation forests have the potential to be a rich and sustainable source of timber and renewable energy. Plantations can also provide social benefits and environmental services such as carbon sequestration, soil protection and water conservation. In order to realize this potential, a number of requisites and supporting mechanisms must be put in place by governments, the private sector, research institutions, training agencies and other stakeholders. It is also recognized that the establishment of successful plantation forests requires high standards of silvicultural practices.
In order to effectively promote timber plantation development, clear, consistent and stable policies and a favourable investment climate must be created to enhance the viability of plantation forests. Suitable strategies are also needed to simplify regulations, clarify land and resource tenure, and facilitate the effective use of available technical and financial resources. International organizations such as ITTO, FAO, UNDP, CIFOR, the World Bank, the ADB, and bilateral and multilateral agencies should expand their support and provide appropriate assistance for the development of timber plantations, particularly in tropical developing countries. However, it is recognized that the private sector is still the primary source of investment capital and professional management under a responsive policy environment.
Mutual cooperation is essential to facilitate exchange of lessons between and among countries in timber plantation development. Research and development and transfer of technology in plantation establishment and management should be encouraged through bilateral and multi-lateral arrangements.
While recognizing the environmental and social benefits of timber plantation development, it should not displace natural forest formations, communities and other biodiversity-rich habitats.
In view of the foregoing, the Conference recommends that governments, in partnership with the private sector and other stakeholders, formulate and implement appropriate policies, strategies and effective incentive systems in support of timber plantation development including, but not limited to the following:
1. Secure tree and land tenurial rights;
2. Inventories of plantations, including those in private lands to determine current and future extent of resources;
3. Timber plantation information systems for planning and policy formulation;
4. Liberalization of trade and promotion of investment in plantation forestry;
5. Basic infrastructure to enhance plantation development and access to markets;
6. Information technology and networks;
7. Research and development and technology transfer;
8. Programs that will enhance the participation of smallholders and communities in plantation forestry, with emphasis on effective extension programs;
9. Integrated pest and fire management and other forest protection programs;
10. Reduced impact harvesting practices appropriate for plantation forests;
11. Certification of plantations, as appropriate, to encourage improved management and ensure market access;
12. Opportunities for directing additional financial resources to plantation development through carbon offset activities and similar mechanisms, as appropriate; and
13. Human resources development programs.
The participants gratefully acknowledge the support provided by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and express their gratitude to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippines for hosting and organizing the Conference.