The FAO EU FLEGT Programme promotes the implementation of the FLEGT Action Plan by improving forest governance, providing technical assistance, and building capacity through funding projects in eligible countries. In pursuit of these objectives, the FAO EU FLEGT Programme has agreed to support the project entitled “Advocacy Towards the Passage of the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Bill – Phase 2”. The Project is being proposed as the second phase of the previous initiative supported under the Programme through a Letter of Agreement (LoA), which seeks to amend the 44-year old Forest Reform Code of the Philippines enacted on May 19, 1975. During the First Project Phase, the Proponent committed to advocate for the Bill’s improvement in collaboration with various forestry stakeholders coming from the Philippine government --- more particularly the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), and the Forest Management Bureau (FMB), the forestry academe (University of the Philippines Los Baños) and its network (i.e. the Philippine Forestry Education Network), the civil society organizations (Haribon Foundation, Inc., Philippine Watershed Coalition, Non-timber Forest Products Programme, Tanggol Kalikasan, Inc., and associated organizations), business sector (Philippine Wood Producers Association, IFMA holders), people’s organizations (Community-based Forest Management Federation), and various stakeholders (including some legislators/representatives) from Regions 4B (MIMAROPA), 5 (Bicol Region), 6 (Western Visayas), 11 (Davao Region), 1 (Ilocos Region), and 3 (Central Luzon Region).
While not explicitly stated, the Bill provides for the sustainable development of both protection and production forestlands, respective of appropriate purposes and permitted special uses. It must be noted that the Bill is in support of the existing laws in protecting forestlands, such as the Republic Act No. 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) as expanded under RA 11308 or Expanded NIPAS. It also anchors on RA 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act as well as the RA 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997. Therefore, the SFM Bill, with stipulations of protection areas within production forestlands, will promote the legal and sustainable production of forest goods (timber and non-timber products, energy, water, etc.) and services (irrigation, research, ecotourism, etc.), making use of a national forest certification system (NFCS), the national forest stock monitoring system (NFSMS), and related systems to demonstrate legality and sustainability.
Specifically on wood production, the Philippines is lagging by 84% in terms of supplying its local demand. According to the FMB, annual wood consumption amounts to 6.06 million cubic meters (mcm) with only 4.58 mcm annual average supply (0.975 mcm were locally produced) and a deficit of 1.48 mcm (N. Tamayo, 2018, Forest Investment Road Map). This situation is in spite of the 8.6 million hectares of forest lands either denuded or sparsely vegetated forest cover (E.S. Guiang, 2018, Strengthening CBFM in Support of SFM). Deregulation of forest lands and resources management, establishment of the SFDF, incentivizing forest investments, promotion of forest certification and promotion of public-private-community partnerships (PPCP) are just a few of the mechanisms that the Bill intends to deploy in promoting legal and sustainable supply of timber and other forest products.
The aforementioned information, along with issues raised during consultation under the First Project Phase, the Proponent will advocate for the passage of the SFM Bill at the Senate. It will jump off from Senate Bill 284 (Sustainable Forest Management Act) filed by Senator Pia Cayetano and Senate Bill 402 (Sustainable Forest Management Act) filed by former Senator Loren Legarda in coordinating with the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (SCENR) on its prioritization. Simultaneous to this, the Proponent will continue to network with Senators to seek audience where the SFM Bill can be thoroughly presented. With these, the SFFI will work on persuading the passage of the Bill in the first reading of the Senate and will appear on meetings called for by the SCENR during the succeeding processes.
The previous phase of the project also identified the need for an independent review of the SFM Bill, which may be used to provide additional perspective on certain points which remain contentious amongst different stakeholders, especially amongst CSOs and POs, The Proponent will coordinate with other funding institutions for assistance to this with the hope that the independent review will reinforce the integrity, sustainability, inclusiveness, and feasibility of the Bill.
The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme promotes the implementation of the FLEGT Action Plan by improving forest governance, providing technical assistance, and building capacity through funding projects in eligible countries. In pursuit of these objectives, the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme has agreed to support the project entitled, “Advocacy Towards the Passage of the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Bill – Phase 2.”