Future in forestry
Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
The Philippine Wood Producers Association said the local wood industry has the potential to grow an initial $20 billion if government will push for laws that will boost the sector while ensuring that the environment is equally valued.
The figure of $20 billion for starters is based on the estimated value from reforesting one million hectares out of the nine million hectares of the country’s barren forest land. Successful and sustainable forestry programs, policies and businesses in Sweden, Finland and Japan have proven the potential and value of tree farming and that is something the Philippines could maximize with the help of proper regulation and sovereign guarantees.
A huge chunk of the wood supply in the Philippines still comes from importation. Last year, the country imported one million cubic meters of wood valued at $200-300 million as part of the construction and furniture industries. Ironically, we used to export wood in the 1980s.
PWPA chairman Charlie Liu said the industry needs three major laws to be passed to propel its growth. These are the National Land Use Act aimed a delineating forest lands from non-forest lands, Forest Limits Bill which will determine protected natural forest from those for tree farming, and the Sustainable Forest Management Act that will manage plantation forests. Those laws have been filed several times in Congress for more than 10 years.
Successful forestry industries in first world countries have shown that it is possible for nations to farm trees for industry while growing forest cover at the same time. The Philippines may want to consider looking into best practices in forestry and attempt to develop its local wood industry by establishing policies and regulations that will promote sustainability, as well as the protection of the environment and indigenous communities so everybody benefits and wins.*