PRESENTATION OF RD LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA

 

FOR THE

 

6TH EASTERN VISAYAS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BUSINESS CONFERENCE

 

MAY 27, 2016

 

Palompon Credit Coop Inc. (PACCI) Conference Hall


I was requested to present the achievements, issues and concerns of the DENRs Agro-Forest Tourism Project as well as its corresponding plans and programs for 2016 - 2017.

There are two (2) programs of the DENR that I will share to you that will capture our focus on agro-forestry – these are the Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) and the National Greening Program (NGP). Both these programs attempt to rehabilitate and protect our remaining forests. At the same time, the need for livelihood and food security of our people is being met.

First is the CBFM. This is any forest development program which adopts the CBFM strategy as its core concepts. And by strategy, we refer to that which will improve the well-being of forest dependent communities and at the same time ensure the sustainable management, rehabilitation and protection of the forestlands and its resources, through the active participation of different stakeholders. In general, it is the “national strategy to achieve sustainable forestry and social justice” (Sec. 1, E.O. No. 263). This is the proposed solution to ensure the sustainability of the forest resources and for the people to have equal access and benefits from it as well their security of tenure.

Our record would show that from 1998 to 2014, a total of 144 tenurial agreements were issued covering an area of 117,695.2413 hectares. It benefited 8,746 individuals from 68 different municipalities with 108 under CARP funded.[1] Through the establishment or the strengthening of existing People’s Organizations (POs) and with due consideration to their existing livelihood system, appropriate projects under CBFM are implemented. It ranges from fruit trees plantation, vegetable production, rattan and bamboo plantation, cut flower, tilapia culture and many others. Aside from the establishment of plantations, the CBFM also includes assistance in the putting up of livelihood projects for the different POs. The livelihood projects ranges from mat weaving, crab culture/fattening, furniture-making and the like.

Allow me to share to you some of our POs who benefited and continues to benefit from the CBFM program, particularly those projects that are CARP funded. It should be noted that POs in the different CBFM sites are asked to submit project proposals that can be funded through the CARP program.

In Leyte, we have the Unyon han Mag-uuma ha Capoocan (UMACAP) with their 10.5 has. of cacao and coffee plantation and vegetable production. Then the 40 has. fruit trees intercropped with abaca plantation by Bulaknong Kapunungan ng Nag-uuma sa Kakahuyan (BUKANA) at Matag-ob, Leyte.

At the province of Biliran, the Kawayanon Farmers Association Inc. (KFAI) at Caibiran, Biliran has rattan, fruit trees and agricrops plantation establishment that covers 20 has. For Southern Leyte, the Anahao Movement for Productive Community Organization (AMPCO) established an agroforestry, rattan and cut flower production located at Brgy. Anahao, Bontoc covering 35 has. At Brgy. Kahupian, Sogod, So. Leyte, they have the integrated organic farming and Tilapia Culture and currently being managed by Kahupian Upland Farmers Association (KUFA). Also, they have the seedling production which does not only meet their local demand but are also being accessed to by other POs from various municipalities. This covers 46 has.

The same is being replicated in the island of Samar like that of the 21-hectare agroforestry and rattan expansion project at Brgy. Loog-Pelit, Basey, by the Loog Pelit Watershed Beneficiaries Association Inc. (LPWBAI). Here, they also have the “tikog” mat weaving as their livelihood project, thereby increasing their income.

The Guibuangan Upland Farmers Association (GUFA) with their rattan and bamboo plantation with 29 has. located at Brgy. Guibuangan, Can-avid, E. Samar. Then the agroforestry production project of the Samahan ng Magsasaka at Caraycaray Inc. (SAMASMICO) with 25 has. at Brgy. Caray-caray,. Maslog, E. Samar. They have lanzones and citrus intercropped with banana and/or abaca.

For Northern Samar, a ginger and rattan plantation covering 20 has. by the Samahang Pangkaunlaran sa Kalekasan Palanit (SAPAKAP) aT Brgy. Palanit, San Isidro. They also have POs that are into mangrove rehabilitation and crab fencing/fattening/culture.  It is worth noting that four (4) POs in the municipality of Biri are into mud crab fattening and mangrove rehabilitation with five (5)  hectares each. These POs are the San Pedro CBRM Organization (SPBRMO), Pio del Pilar Fisherfolks Association (PIDELFA), Kauswagan San Panginabuhi ngan Kapalibutan (KSPK) and the McArthur Fisherfolks Association Inc. (MAFAI).

However, the implementation of the CBFM project was not without challenges.

The presence of timber poachers in the CBFM area alarms the aim of sustainable forest management that the CBFM strategy intends. Even with the standing policies of the Department not to cut trees, especially indigenous tree species, people still opt to break the law due to lack of other livelihood options.

The CBFM-CARP project was more focused on agroforestry and reforestation which does not quite address the daily needs of the beneficiaries since they still have to wait for long-gestating forestry crops. In this scenario, it was suggested during visits in the CBFM area to plant short term crops while waiting for the long term crops to mature.  The DENR, LGU and other agencies can also help these beneficiaries by identifying and developing more sustainable alternative livelihood that can give immediate benefits while waiting for the harvest of some other crops.

Another issue is the lack of farm to market road and market for farm produce. Sustainable and effective marketing strategies are essential support mechanisms to the PO. Without these, it will be difficult for livelihood projects to prosper. As such, there is the need to establish network and linkages with other government agencies and even that of the private institutions that can extend assistance to their special needs and concerns in relation to their project.

Unity and cooperation among officers and members are also important ingredients in the success of the project implementation. However, this also became an issue in some people’s organization who implemented the project. More often, misunderstanding and lack of awareness on the bylaws of the organization were the causes. As a solution, the DENR often advised these organizations to orient new members of its bylaws and conduct monthly meeting. Being transparent in all aspects of organization management will also avoid issues and misunderstanding and will strengthen the relationship of the members.

Another factor is the need for a sound financial management. Having that will ensure the sustainability of the project, further strengthen the cohesion and trust among members of the POs. Still, there must be strict monitoring and evaluation of the project by concerned institutions like that of the DENR and the LGU itself, There must be that commitment from the DENR to accomplish the projected output of the project as well as the LGUs role of assisting the implementation of the project and its sustainability once the DENR-funded project is terminated. Otherwise, the project will eventually fail and the PO disintegrate

In an impact assessment made on a CBFM area, it was noted that there was an actual increase of 21% of the mean annual income of their main source which translates to increase of their property ownership and enrolment of grade school students, among others. The leaders and members of the PO also felt that they are more empowered and that there are fewer incidents of illegal cutting. There is also a decrease in calamities such as flood and erosion due to planted trees.[2]

For this year, the office is focusing on the updating of 38 Community Resource Management Framework (CRMF). Also, 13 project proposals have been approved and are being implemented from the same number of POs under the CBFM-CARP this CY 2016. This covers 228 hectares with 510 direct beneficiaries with a total budget of Php 8,878.371.

 

That is for the Community-based Forest Management.

One of the priority programs of the Aquino administration implemented in 2011 is the National; Greening Program (NGP).

It is a massive forest rehabilitation program of the government established by virtue of Executive Order No. 26 issued on Feb. 24, 2011 by President Benigno S. Aquino III. It seeks to grow 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares nationwide within a period of six years, from 2011 to 2016.

It is said that the NGP is a multi-faceted program. It is not simply a reforestation initiative. It also forms part of the over-all strategy of the government for climate change mitigation as it will enhance the capacity of our forest stock to absorb carbon dioxide. From the economic standpoint, the NGP also seeks to reduce poverty as it is able to provide alternative livelihood activities to marginalized upland and lowland households relating to seedling production and care and maintenance of newly-planted trees.

To that end, the NGP is a convergence of initiatives among the DA, DAR and DENR. Half of the targeted trees planted under the program constitute forest tree species intended for timber production and protection. The other half would be for agroforestry species.

Here in Region VIII, from 2011-2015, a total of 75,624.2 hectares have so far been reforested, mostly from its regular funding. The figure would be higher if initiatives from the Central Office of the DENR and other private stakeholders will be included.[3]

 

The NGP has many components that has economic impact to the people through livelihood and job generation. These are the plantation establishment, seedling production, and maintenance and protection activities.

In 2015 alone, plantation establishment activities were able to generate 20,503 jobs which is translated to 16,053.60 hectares. For its seedling production, 58,471 jobs was generated with a production of 8,697,879 seedlings. The latest data that we have would show that from 2011 to present, a total of 43,720,531 seedlings were produced under regular fund of the DENR.

For the maintenance and protection component of NGP, 52,172 jobs were created and a total of 1,792 extension officers were hired. From 2012-2015, a total of 581 POs from 240 LGUs were funded for maintenance and protection of 1,414 NGP sites.

 

The data would show that aside from the establishment of reforested areas, it was able to help many families through the thousands of jobs generated.

Aside from the ones that I just mentioned, Region VIII was a recipient of Mangrove and Beach Forest Development Project (MBFDP) as a response to the massive and widespread destruction of our mangrove and beach forest caused by typhoons that ravaged the region. There is also the Barangay Forest Program and Mechanized Nursery Project – all of them reforested a total of 19,530 hectares in 2015 alone.  

The efforts extended by the DENR and other concerned agencies in the region is being replicated by the private sector. The Mining Industry has its SAG-IP by the Mines-Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the BINHI of Energy Development Corporation, ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. through their “Puno ng Buhay” project, the “Grow a Million Tree” project by the SM Foundation, Inc. and the “Tree Replacement” by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).[4]

Generally, the National Greening Program has made a positive impact to the country’s forest stock and some sectors of our populace. But it is not without some issues and concerns. However, appropriate remedial steps are being recommended and/or done to remedy each problem encountered. Among the issues raised were on the peace and order situation which at times hinder the establishment of NGP plantation. There is the unpredictable weather condition such as the prolonged hot weather conditions and the frequent occurrence of typhoons. Some delays in the plantation establishments are also experienced due to inaccessibility and the rugged terrain of the area. Because of this, the volunteers are hesitant to participate. Complaints were also received that the fund allotted for maintenance and protection cannot suffice the operational cost of fertilize and brushing and that it is not at par to existing labor and prices of commodities.[5]

On a positive note, these concerns were considered to improve the succeeding implementation of the project. The indispensable participation of the mass media has helped disseminate information significant to the people who are into NGP plantation. For expediency, there is the direct awarding of qualified POs to facilitate the immediate implementation of the project.  NGP funds are downloaded directly to field offices for easy disbursement to the concerned POs.

Recommendations are already in place for a more successful implementation of the NGP. It is suggested that more funding should be allotted for plantation maintenance and protection to ensure high survival rate of seedling planted. To entice more people to seriously consider and participate in the program, unit cost of seedlings should equal that of the current trend of market prices. A substantial increase of seedlings planted, would translate to a higher percentage of survival and a better established plantation.

There have been significant gains. As of Dec. 31, 2015, DENR Central Office has summed up the accomplishment of the NGP since its inception. A total of 1.35 million hectares of land has been reforested with more than 900 million seedlings produced and 3.1 million jobs generated. But we cannot deny that much is still to be reforested and that deforestation continues to occur in many parts of the region and of the country.  

Recognizing this, President Benigno Aquino III signed EO No. 193 last year extending the NGP for another 12 years. It aims to reforest “all remaining unproductive, denuded, and degraded forestland”. Through this, we expect to further accelerate the momentum gained by the program. More areas will be reforested and more livelihood generated, to the benefit of the sectors concerned and to the environment.

Having said that, we can say that the signs of the times would point to the challenge of increasing our sense of responsibility in relation to our forests and its resources. There is a need to further inculcate into the hearts and minds of every people that we are mere stewards, hence, we should utilize our resources with care. In the words of our DENR secretary, Ramon J. P. Paje, “more efforts should be done to communicate to the rest of society that reducing deforestation need not be incompatible with economic development, Forests and the ecosystem services that they provide serve to ensure the productivity in the other economic sectors and the very survival of forest-dependent communities in our region.”

I echo the same challenge to us all.

Thank you and Mabuhay po kayo!