Since 2011, Community-based Forest Management (CBFM) communities are the major beneficiaries of the National Greening Program (NGP) of the Philippines where tree growing up to protection and maintenance is being provided by the Government. Hence, there many tree plantations that are ready for harvest, but income remains limited to the selling of round logs the communities are unable to cut the logs due to technical and financial incapacities. As a result, growing trees for timber production has not been an attractive endeavor as inputs from tree growers seem to outweigh financial returns. This is the primary reason for the development of the project using vertical integration as an approach that will enable CBFM communities to control more than one component of the timber supply chain. In the process, the project will be promoting responsible forest utilization under the principles of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) from plantation establishment, timber harvesting, processing, value-adding and marketing.
On 22 June 2021, AFoCO signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project, “Promotion of Vertical Integration in Wood Processing through People’s Organizations in Community Based Forest Management Areas in the Philippines” with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippines.
This project will be the first country-specific project of the Philippines under the AFoCO. The project will be carried out in Visayas in Region 7 and Mindanao in Region 13, for 5 years from 2021 to 2026 with a budget of 1.118M USD. By promoting the engagement of the CBFM communities into value-adding in wood production, it plans to provide adequate market linkages for the CBFM community and formulate and recommend enabling policy guidelines for the implementation of vertical integration as a business model for the CBFM community.
The signing ceremony, held as an online event, was attended by H.E. Mr. Roy A. Cimatu, Secretary of DENR of the Philippines, Mr. Ricardo L. Calderon, Executive Director of the AFoCO Secretariat, and Dr. Park Eunsik, Director General of the International Affairs Bureau of the Korea Forest Service.
“AFoCO hopes to contribute to the improvement of livelihoods of local communities by creating added value and resolving the lack of sustainable timber production in the forest areas of the Philippines, and will continue to promote the development of forest restoration models in cooperation with AFoCO member countries,”, said Mr. Calderon.
Dr. Park expressed hopes that “cooperation in the forest sector among the Republic of Korea, AFoCO, and the Philippines will be further enhanced in the future, and looks forward to the Philippines’ active participation in the 15th World Forest Congress to be held in Seoul, Korea in 2022.”
In closing, the Secretary concluded in line with the project activities, AFoCO will strengthen mutual cooperation for advanced technology transfer in fields such as REDD+ project, forest protection, and forest fire management.