PH adopts forest stewardship system
BY EIREENE JAIREE GOMEZ
The Manila Times
THE Philippines is adopting the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification system that is seen to open opportunities for export of forest products, paper and wood to Europe from well-managed, sustainable forests. An FSC certification is an assurance This is also aligned with the that forest goods come from Philippines’ hopes to pursue legal sources, as required by the industrialization that will require European Union Timber Regulation excellent management of natural and Lacey Act in the United resources. States. It certifies that the goods “PO accreditation is an important come from forests that do the mechanism to transform POs least damage to the environment into exemplary resource managers. and forest-dependent indigenous POs are considered ‘de facto’ communities. managers, a partner rather than a The Department of Environment contractor,” said DENR Assistant and Natural Resources (DENR) is Secretary Marcial Amaro. mapping an accreditation system Amaro said there is a need to revisit for people’s organizations (POs) the draft department administrative to become certified under the FSC, order on PO accreditation especially as POs desire to export to put this policy in place. their forest products. “[We need] to conduct a national consultative meeting for possible institutionalization of PO accreditation with concerned CBFM (communitybased forest management) personnel by the fourth quarter of 2022,” he said. The PO accreditation will have a significant role in providing a sustainable livelihood for upland residents in order to discourage them from illegal logging and wildlife hunting. The accreditation system was piloted under DENR’s Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP). “The pervasive problems of poverty and landlessness have driven people to use public lands. Inevitably, POs have become important players in the management of public land — timberland and multiple-use zones in protected areas,” said Dr. Manuel Bonita, DENR INREMP consultant. The accreditation under FSC standards will enable POs to have easier access to export markets that look for international forest management certification. Some 20 POs operating in nine provinces in four regions have already been accredited through the piloted accreditation program in 2019-2021 of INREMP. Having gained the trust of INREMP, the POs were allowed to enjoy substantial cash advances as an intervention to natural resources management. This allowed INREMP to accelerate lagging disbursement of the project’s fund. “In the future, forest products chain-of-custody must be added to the PO accreditation system. This facilitates regulation of forest product harvesting and inhibits corrupt practices,” said Bonita at an INREMP Exit Conference last April 21.