Institutional backing

Five government agencies in the Philippines are mandated to undertake wood energy-related functions: the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Agrarian Reform, the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Energy. Most of the work done, albeit tangential, is still of great significance in the absence of massive and/or intensive promotion for wood energy and is in fuelwood plantation, propagation and management of wood resources and research and development.

The Department of Agriculture, through its national network of regional consortia, is involved in a number of researches involving woodfuel plantations. In the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, three different branches are engaged in wood energy-related work: the Forest Management Bureau, the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau and the Planning and Policy Studies Office. These offices perform woodfuel research and development-oriented activities. Some of the lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programs are now also converted into fuelwood plantations with the assistance of the Department of Agrarian Reform. The Department of Science and Technology likewise provides wood energy-oriented tasks through its Industrial Technology Development Institute and the Forest Products Research and Development Institute. The former conducts research and development in energy, industrial manufacturing and mineral processing, while the latter conducts applied research and development in secondary and tertiary processing of forest products. Finally, the Department of Energy, through its countrywide network of Affiliated Non-conventional Energy Centers, also performs wood energy-related initiatives, particularly as part of its Rural Energy Planning agenda.

Policy support

Government policies incorporating wood energy-related policies may be obtained from three sources: the National Energy Plan, the Forestry Development Master Plan and the Philippine Strategy for Sustainable Development.

The National Energy Plan has three objectives, namely: to promote judicious and efficient use of energy resources; to ensure the availability of energy to the markets in the country at reasonable prices; and, last, to accomplish both objectives with minimal adverse effects on the environment.

In line with these targets, government energy policies include among other things: the rationalization of energy prices to reflect the true costs of production and distribution, the promotion of energy self-reliance, the encouragement of energy conservation measures to promote efficiency, the maintenance of environmental and safety measures for energy projects and, finally, the participation of the private sector in energy projects.

In addition, the National Energy Plan has strategically addressed a four-point concern towards the following subprogrammes:

· Commercialization: envisions creating a favourable market environment to encourage private sector investment and participation in new and renewable energy projects and activities.

· Technology: aims at developing economically viable new and renewable energy systems to levels of technical maturity at which new and renewable energy systems can be commercially competitive with conventional energy.

· Promotion: attempts to heighten public awareness of the advantages and benefits of the use of new and renewable systems.

· Area-based energy: a mechanism to accelerate the promotion, commercialization and use of new and renewable technologies at the regional and subregional levels through a decentralized, area-based approach.

The Master Plan for Forestry envisions the country's forestry sector directed towards a condition whereby all of the forest resources will be under efficient and equitable management, conservation and utilization, satisfying in appropriate ways and on a sustainable basis the needs of the people for forest-based commodities and services. It consists of three programmes: Man and the Environment (people-oriented forestry, soil conservation and watershed management); Forest Management and Products Management (management of natural dipterocarp forests, forest plantations and tree farms); and the Institutional Development (organization, human resources, infrastructure and facilities, education, training and extension).

The Master Plan's objectives are to:

· meet the needs of the generations of Filipinos for wood and other forest products by putting all of the country's production forest resources under sustainable management;

· contribute to the production of food, water and energy and other needed commodities by properly managing the upland watersheds and through an effective interaction between forestry and farming practices;

· protect the land and its resources against degradation and other ecological devastation through proper land management systems and practices;

· conserve the forest ecosystems and their diverse genetic resources through wise use;

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

· promote social justice and the recognition of the rights of indigenous cultural communities in the management, conservation and utilization of forest resources.

The Philippine Strategy for Sustainable Development (PSSD) seeks to achieve economic growth with adequate protection of the country's biological resources and its diversity, vital ecosystem functions and overall environmental quality. It intends to ensure the sustainable utilization of the country's natural resources, promote social and intergenerational equity in the utilization of the country's natural resources, develop management programmes to preserve the country's heritage of biological diversity and, last, promote the technologies of sustainable lowland agriculture and upland agroforestry through the encouragement of research and development and demonstration projects.

Likewise, the PSSD has a set of core implementing strategies directed towards resolving the various issues arising from the country's development efforts regarding the integration of environmental considerations in decision-making, proper pricing of natural resources and property rights reform. There is also the question of the establishment of an integrated protected areas system, the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems, inducing growth in rural areas, the promotion of environmental education and, finally, the strengthening of citizens' participation.

In the Philippines, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is the government agency which is primarily responsible for the sustainable development of the country's forest resources. As in many Asian countries, Philippine forest policy does not give adequate importance to fuelwood. The reason for this could be the low economic value of fuelwood. It can be noted that before a tree can be used for fuelwood, its higher-value parts such as timber, pulpwood or lumber come first. A scrutiny of the different forest policies issued points to at least five administrative orders directly addressed to woodfuel:

· Ministry Administrative Order No. 4, 19 January 1987 - lifts the restriction in the harvesting, transporting and sale of fuelwood, pulpwood or timber produced from ipil-ipil (Leucaena spp.) and falcata (Albizia falcataria) planted in private lands.

· DENR Administrative Order No. 86, 4 October 1988 - prescribes the rules and the deregulation of tree harvesting, transporting and sale of fuelwood, pulpwood or timber planted in private lands.

· DENR Administrative Order No. 27. Series of 1989 - bans the exportation of fuelwood to assist the local enterprises using wood to generate energy.

· DENR Administrative Order No. 26, 22 February 1990 - amends DENR Administrative Order No. 86-88 by including all other tree species planted in private lands, except premium hardwood species, in the lifting of restriction in the harvesting, transporting and sale of fuelwood.

· DENR Administrative Order No. 79, 19 September 1990 - amends DENR Administrative Order No. 26, Series of 1990 by excluding Benguet pine (Pinus kesiya) in the list of species whose harvesting, transporting and sale of fuelwood have been lifted. Hence, the cutting, transportation and disposition of Benguet pine within private lands shall be covered by a Private Land Timber Permit (PLTP).

It is interesting to note that some government policy approaches towards wood energy were merely incidental. For example, government policies requiring the establishment of forest plantations - which apparently would increase woodfuel supply and other wood energy-related implications. The following administrative orders are pertinent to the establishment of forest plantations:

· Department Administrative Order No. 21, 21 June 1996. The AO established the guidelines for the establishment of pilot dipterocarp plantations. Its objective is to promote species diversity in forest plantations through the establishment of dipterocarp plantations whenever feasible.

· Department Administrative Order No. 24, 23 August 1996. The rules and regulations governing the Socialized Industrial Forest Management (SIFM) Program are defined within this AO. It aims at involving, in the reforestation efforts of the government, interested individuals who do not have much capital to develop tree/forest farms by limiting the size of the area that may be subject to the SIFM Agreement to the minimum, i.e. 1-10 ha for individual/single families, and more than 10 ha to 500 ha for associations/cooperatives.

· Department Administrative Order No. 60, 4 October 1993. This AO provided the revised regulations and guidelines governing the establishment and management of industrial forest plantations. The objectives are: conversion of the country's open and denuded lands, brushlands and degraded residual forests into productive forests to supply the raw materials for forest-based and related industries; effective protection and sustainable management for industrial purposes of suitable portions of the country's remaining residual forests; and the development and implementation of mutually beneficial partnerships with forest-dependent individuals and communities.

Obviously, there are a number of government policies related to woodfuels but these policies are not direct and explicit; instead they are subsumed in general terms under the National Energy Plan, the Master Plan for Forestry and the Philippine Strategy for Sustainable Development. However, despite the economic performance of woodfuels in the energy-economy nexus, there is still much to be done in terms of increasing the appreciation and awareness for wood energy policy-makers and likewise with the concerned agencies; hence the need to coordinate efforts, plans, policies and targets.

It is not only the government sector which plays an important role in the energy sector. The private sector does too as well as NGOs. Their roles are readily seen in current efforts in forest plantation development, management and utilization/promotion of other renewable energy such as biogas and photovoltaics. With the promulgation of more pro-people forestry policies, strong partnerships with local communities can be forged whereby people directly involved in the woodfuel trade can participate in identifying problems and opportunities and subsequently recommend the interventions needed. A concerted effort to integrate policies and programmes of government agencies with those of the private sector and the NGOs is imperative to ensure proper management of bioenergy resources. (Source: National Consultation Workshop on the Integration of Wood Energy in the Forestry Curriculum, held in the University of the Philippines, Los Baņos, November 1999. A paper was presented by Drs Rebugio, Dizon and Espiritu on policy and institution support for wood energy.)

Wood energy in academe

Dr L.D. Angeles, Executive Director of the Philippine Wood Producers' Association, and concurrently Chair of the Committee on Forestry Education, Technical Panel for Agricultural Education at the Commission on Higher Education, Office of the President of the Philippines, presented his own observations during the National Consultation Workshop on the Integration of Wood Energy in the Forestry Curriculum. According to Dr Angeles, issues and concerns on fuelwood have been with us for a very long time. They are real but ignored in such a way as not to be present at all. They have become serious to handle as the mass of the rural-based, below-poverty threshold population increases with no indication of lessening its dependence on woodfuel resources, thus creating greater pressure on existing forest resources and their environment.

Although belated, it is therefore high time to address the issues and concerns on wood energy on a more holistic and synergistic basis since a critical stage has been reached, affecting economic development. Education is the key strategy for addressing such issues. Integrating and introducing wood energy in forestry curricula would be a step in the right direction and must be undertaken without further delay.

As an initial step, the most critical issues and concerns on wood energy should be immediately integrated in existing relevant subjects at the Forest Ranger Certificate Curriculum, B.Sc. in Forestry, B.Sc. Forestry major in Agroforestry, Master's and Ph.D. levels. As a final step, integration should be complemented with the introduction of new subjects covering issues and concerns on wood energy, providing that the new subjects will not affect minimum standards.

In between the initial and final steps, institutions offering forestry courses should continue to consult frequently and discuss among themselves in order to agree on the issues and concerns on wood energy that may be: a) the content of a syllabus(i) on wood energy to be integrated in existing relevant subjects; and b) the content of a syllabus(i) on wood energy of a new subject(s), reiterating the process described earlier. Issues and concerns on wood energy should be raised to the level of government policy- and decision-makers. This is another function of education - to inform. Through this, the government agencies concerned may take the lead in addressing the issues and concerns outside education. It could be that these government agencies might fund national, regional and local consultations, technology generation and transfer, and even scholarships.

Indeed, academe plays a significant role in the attainment of the wood energy policies and programmes of the country; it will enhance the tasks of the key agencies mandated to achieve sustainable management of woodfuel supply in the country. After a series of reviews, it was found that topics on wood energy and other biomass energy utilization are limited in scope and practice in forestry curricula. Topics on wood energy, whether plantation, management, utilization, conservation, production, marketing or distribution, could well be integrated in existing forestry courses without drastically altering the course content. There is one caveat, however: all tree species are potential sources of wood energy, but to utilize a tree solely for wood energy will not be as sustainable as utilizing a tree for its multipurpose end uses. Plantation species will have optimum economic returns if wood energy is considered as well as the other end uses of the species.

The review conducted revealed that the following topics on wood energy are included in present curricula:

· species suitable for fuelwood, as discussed in courses such as Dendrology, Wood identification, Silviculture;
· calorific values of various reforestation species;
· specific gravity of fuelwoods, in courses in wood physics;
· fuel value/wood energy;
· charcoal production and uses;
· marketing of wood by-products;
· establishment and management of fast-growing trees for fuelwood;
· plantation for fuelwood production;
· hedgerows for fuelwood;
· bioenergy development;
· uses of thinning/pruning products for fuelwood;
· fuelwood production for income enhancement;
· economics of fuelwood production and marketing;
· destructive wood distillation;
· production and uses of charcoal;
· bark as an energy source;
· wood as an energy source;
· energy from biomass; and
· charcoal making and briquetting.

The various courses which include these topics are Dendrology, Wood physics, Silviculture, Forest products utilization I, Agroforestry farming systems, Nurseries and plantation establishments, Fundamentals of small-scale forest-based enterprises, Forestry business management, and others. (Contributed by: Elizabeth M. Remedio, Visiting Scientist, Wood Energy Programme, Forest Products Division, FAO, Rome, Italy.)


A participant's impression of the National Consultation Workshop on Woodfuel Production, Trade and Education in the Philippines.

The Philippines may be among the first few countries in Asia to adopt changes in its forestry curriculum by putting more emphasis on wood energy-related subjects. Since the 1980s, wood energy has gained global recognition and popularity as it relates to the overall themes of forestry, energy, socio-economic, environmental and, very recently, climate change. Rightly so, for indeed the role of forestry and wood energy has now come to the fore once more. Perhaps even more urgently than before, particularly as global agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol have linked wood energy (inasmuch as forests provide carbon sinks) to the prospects of mitigating climate change and providing a more environment-friendly option, among other things.

The National Consultation on Woodfuel Production, Trade and Education in the Philippines was held at the University of the Philippines' Tropical Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability Training Center in Los Baņos, Laguna from 16 to 19 November 1999. It was sponsored by FAO's Regional Wood Energy Development Programme (RWEDP) and hosted by the College of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of the Philippines in collaboration with the Forest Management Bureau. The broad objective of the four-day consultation revolved around the theme of enhancing awareness of trainers and academicians in lead national forest and agroforestry training institutions in the Philippines about the role of wood energy. More specifically, it intended to present prevailing systems in wood energy production and trade, and to seek the support of concerned institutions and groups in integrating sustainable wood energy development issues/topics into the training and education curricula of relevant sectoral institutes.

Looking back, in the Philippines, just over a decade ago little was known about the socio-economic, as well as environmental implications, of the use of woodfuel as a source of energy among households, small and medium-sized commercial-industrial establishments and other institutions, even though it has always been a traditional fuel. In fact, charcoal and "firewood" (meaning woodfuel) do not catch the attention of many Filipinos. For the subsistence farm households in many rural barangays it is commonplace. Yet, these households depend on woodfuel for at least two things: first, as cooking fuel; and second, as a source of primary income (for those who obtain less cash from other sources) or secondary income (for those who have cash crop farms or fruit-tree orchards and other agricultural products). Tracing woodfuel flows from its origin down to the various types of traders until it finally reaches its ultimate consumer is a process of fleshing out economic benefits piling up at each stage among different groups. In other words, in the Philippines, many rural as well as urban families depend upon the woodfuel trade as a means of livelihood and cash income.

The complexity of the supply-side issue, on the other hand, is the fact that in many island barangays and municipal barangays, biomass continues to be the main source of energy, particularly for cooking and some other domestic end uses such as ironing clothes. In 1988, a study was done in 25 (out of 48) municipalities of Cebu, where it was found that about 80 percent of all households used biomass resources as their main cooking fuel. Biomass, in this case, specifically referred to fuelwood, coconut fronds, coconut husks, coconut midribs and charcoal. The initial cost of investing in liquified petroleum gas (LPG) or even kerosene stoves continues to be beyond the reach of most households, while biomass can be gathered freely, most of the time - hence, the economic implications from both the production and the consumption side. However, wood energy, being part of bioenergy, touches more aspects than just economics. It is also closely associated with forestry, agriculture, environment, climate change, health and, most important, policy issues, not to mention the explicit association with food security.

Despite the importance and value of wood energy or bioenergy in this regard, it was learned during the UPLB Consultation Workshop that in the field of education, wood energy topics were only very limited in scope and in coverage. For instance, the RWEDP Expert Consultation on Forestry Education, held in Cha-Am Thailand in 1998 (see page 00) reported that 45 universities in the Philippines offer courses in forestry. These courses include a two-year certificate in forestry, four-year bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, Ph.D. degrees, a two-year diploma in agroforestry (which is post-secondary) and a diploma in agroforestry (which is post-baccalaureate). In addition, 156 colleges and universities offer various programmes in agriculture and other degrees with courses including topics related to wood energy. However, wood energy-related subjects in the current Forestry Education and Training courses and modules are found to be minimal and insufficient. In fact, the existing courses contained topics on wood energy with a time allotment ranging from three to five hours only per course, the exception being the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University offering five to 15 hours per course on wood energy and fuelwood plantations.

The same holds for training institutes having similar courses with topics on wood energy, rural development and sustainable development, among others. Only the Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI) has training courses on wood energy production and stove technology, while some other baccalaureate curricula at UPLB have one to two courses dealing with wood energy and energy flows. Apparently, wood energy as an academic (and research) field has somewhat been taken for granted vis-ā-vis its level of significance in society.

An array of relevant issues was presented and opened for discussion during the workshop. It was interesting to note that in state colleges and universities, curriculum revision is totally out of the question, mere integration is possible for as long as it is within certain limits in terms of number of hours. Then came the firing of questions as to who are qualified to handle the courses? Where can they be contacted? What textbooks are available for instruction? What audio/video materials are available to aid teaching? What are the effective teaching strategies, methodologies, syllabi preparation techniques, etc.?

Ideas flowed in like cascading lace as the participants broke into individual groupings to brainstorm the issues and concerns. One particular striking idea was that of:

field problems ->research ->theory-building ->community networking/verification ->publication ->policy formulation ->curriculum development ->back to research and the same cycle.

This suggestion seemed ideal.

The question of funding and budgets cropped up. Understandably no one seemed to have the answer. To top it all, if plans should be pushed through, the group even decided to form an ad hoc national organization tentatively representing wood energy curriculum experts.

The seeds have been scattered - certainly in the right direction. Will it sustain? It now requires attention and care to make it grow. Let us hope that the seeds scattered on good soil will bear fruit. To quote Robert Frost, "The woods are lovely, dark and deep ...". (Contributed by: Elizabeth M. Remedio, Visiting Scientist, Wood Energy Programme, Forest Products Division, FAO, Rome, Italy.)

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