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Forest management systems

The absence of operational and effective management systems for many of the forestlands and forest resources characterizes the Philippine situation. Most forests and forestlands are now under no effective management (de los Angeles 2000). In most areas, “check points” and “forest monitoring stations” are the only visible signs of forest management. Most forests and lands set aside for protection do not have approved, legitimized, and funded resource management plans (CPPAP/DENR 1999; Guiang et al. 1999; Mickelwait et al. 1999; FMB/DENR 2000). The only areas for which the Government demands comprehensive long-term resource management and annual operational plans are those held by TLAs, Industrial Forest Management Agreements (IFMAs), Community-based Forest Management Agreements (CBFMAs), and Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claims (CADCs). The resource-use permits of these holders are highly dependent on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) approval of the operational plans.

Approved and legitimized comprehensive resource management plans with funds for the periodic monitoring of performance and outcome indicators are the key to successfully managing the Philippine forestlands. If there is effective on-site management, the dipterocarp forests may be relied upon as a sustainable source of wood (Tagudar 1997; Reyes 1999). Otherwise, following Poore et al.’s (1998) argument that there is “no forest without management,” de-facto resource management by communities and outsiders would take place and prevail, as is the case now.

Table 19 presents an estimate of the extent and status of forest management in the Philippines. It is probable that the 0.9 million ha of forests under 18 active TLAs are effectively managed. The TLA holders, with their annual allowable cuts (AACs) of 0.6 million m3 are generating revenues to finance forest protection and management (FMB/DENR 2000). The same is not necessarily true for CBFMA and CADC areas with resource management plans because the resource-use rights of these communities were suspended by the DENR Secretary effective September 1998 (Mickelwait et al. 1999). When the suspension was recently lifted, it was replaced by a highly restrictive policy on utilizing timber from residual forests (DENR DAO 2000-29).

Almost all Protected Areas Projects funded by the World Bank or European Union have approved, legitimized, and funded Protection Area Management Plans. However, most, if not all, of the country’s major watershed forest reserves, covering a total area of 1.38 million ha, have no plans or financial support. There are doubts whether Government funds can continue the protection and management activities after the end of the European Union and World Bank projects. Alternative mechanisms for managing protected areas are being discussed, but it will take time before the dominant approach of “protect, prohibit, and punish” is fully replaced by a philosophy of “protect, participate, and profit” (Larsen 2000). In summary, out of the total 15.9 million ha of public forests and forestlands, only 20 to 25 percent are probably under some kind of effective forest and forestland management.

More than 5 million ha of public forestlands in the timberland category are not covered by any form of tenure, and are considered “open-access” areas (Table 19). Institutional arrangements covering land rights include co-management agreements, special-use permits, co-production or production sharing agreements and presidential declarations. The Government has become the largest absentee landlord in the uplands (Mickelwait et al. 1999; Hyde et al. 1997; Johnson 1997). Under de-facto management, the forests and forestlands are not covered by any kind of tenure to establish “ownership” or stewardship for protection, development or management.

Angeles (1999) summarized the present forest management situation this way: “There is no other more serious danger that threatens the sustainability of our forest than neglect or abandonment of its protection and development.” This “warning” has been the major message since the 1980s. In spite of this, policy makers, environmentalists and Government officials are not mobilizing resources to establish effective management systems for allocated forestlands. It does not re-align resources to accelerate the process of “closing the open access” to forestlands. The mentality of governmental “command and control” still prevails. Instead of devising appropriate incentive systems that could fit with the Regalian Doctrine,3 the forestry sector has become a victim that is further sacrificed and complicated by the lack of clear division of responsibility at the municipal and provincial levels (Argete 1998). Key forest stakeholders are demanding the clear delineation and actual on-site validation of the protection and management of natural forests and forestlands (Angeles 1999). This cannot happen overnight. It will take a massive organizational undertaking, commitment by both the elected and appointed officials, a participatory approach to obtain consensus, and considerable funding to start, continue, and complete the process.

An inadequate system requiring preparation and submission of comprehensive resource management plans has weakened the Government’s ability to monitor forest protection and management. Monitoring systems based on key performance indicators and outputs such as forest cover, biodiversity indices, water quality and quantity, and forestry investments are not presently available or applied (Johnson 1999).

Opportunities in the forestry sector

Despite the increasing timber shortage, the Philippine forestry sector has the potential to rebound and become a key player in local and regional economies for several reasons. First, key forestry policies are in place. Second, the forestry sector has pioneered the adoption and implementation of CBFM as the national strategy. Third, the country has ample human resources and the most ideal climatic conditions, such as in eastern Mindanao, for establishing fast-growing hardwoods and becoming a major exporter in Southeast Asia. Economic rotation and yields of key species such as albizzia, acacia, gmelina, and eucalyptus average 6 to 12 years and at least 200 to 300 m3 per ha at harvest. Smallholder tree crops could also positively impact the rural economies and ensure the supply of plantation timber (Dy 2000; World Bank 1999a, 1999b, and 1999c). The forestry sector could potentially generate more than US$ 3 billion a year as opposed to spending US$ 1 billion for imported forest products (Nuevo 1998 and 1999). Fourth, there are at least 25 forestry schools and colleges in the Philippines that can provide technical training in forestry development. Finally, there are thousands of professionally registered foresters who are waiting for new challenges and opportunities to emerge (Fellizar 1998). Major issues and constraints, however, still have to be addressed first.


Key forestry policies

Several national policies affect the Philippine forestry sector (Table 23). In general, the intent, substance, and vision of the national policies are sound. Many may set a precedent for other ASEAN countries, especially those that concern CBFM (Bisson et al. 1997), decentralization and devolution, and protected area systems. However, the translation of the policies into operational programs for sustainable forest management needs to be improved.

The current forestry policies are best interpreted and analyzed in relation to the People’s Power Revolution (EDSA) in 1986 combined with the emergence and upsurge of environmental consciousness and influential media (Fairman 1996). Except for the Revised Forestry Code of 1975 (PD 705), most of the policies were enacted after 1986. The 1987 Philippine Constitution, the highest law of the land, lays down the tenet of natural resources management. The Executive Orders (EOs) during the first year of the Aquino administration carried executive and legislative mandates in support of forestry policies. The Republic Acts (RAs) by the Philippine Congress from the Aquino to the Ramos regimes reflect deeply rooted concerns from the lawmakers and the executive branch on how the Philippines could conserve its forest resources and support sustainable natural resource development and management.

Table 23. Key forestry policies of the Philippines


Policy instrument

Form and year of issuance

Major focus and mandate

Revised Forestry Code
Presidential Decree No. 705 of 1975
Creation of the Bureau of Forest Development (BFD) with line authority. Mandates the adoption of multiple use, land classification and delineation of forestlands, key conservation and reforestation strategies, census and initial recognition of forest occupants.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution
1987 Constitution
Adoption of the Regalian Doctrine; the State may undertake on the development and utilization of natural resources or enter into co-production, joint venture, or production agreements.
Executive Order No. 192 on the Reorganization of the Environment and Natural Resources
Executive Order with legislative and executive powers issued in 1987
Downgraded the BFD from line into a staff bureau; DENR was mandated to conserve, manage, develop, properly use, license and regulate the use of natural resources.
Local Government Code
Republic Act No. 7160 of 1991
Partially devolved some functions of the DENR to the LGUs.
The Law on National Integrated Protected Area Systems
Republic Act No. 7586 issued in 1992
Allocation of forestlands and forest resources to protected area systems for biodiversity purposes, preservation of habitats, watershed protection, and maintenance of ecological balance.
The Law on Forest Charges on Timber and Other Forest Products
Republic Act No. 7161 issued in 1991
Mandated the Government to increase forest charges for timber and non-timber forest products up to 25 percent and 10 percent of FOB prices, respectively.
Executive Order No. 263 on Community-based Forest Management Strategy
Executive Order of 1995 with no legislative power
Mandated the DENR to adopt CBFM as the strategy for sustainable forestry and social justice.
Indigenous People’s Rights Act
Republic Act No. 8371 in 1997
Mandated the Government through the newly created National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to recognize, protect and promote the rights of indigenous people.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution

The 1987 Philippine Constitution mandates in Article II, Section 16, “that the State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accordance with the harmony of nature.” The Constitution adopted the Regalian Doctrine and empowered the Congress to determine by law the specific limits of forestlands and national parks. The State has the right to undertake on its own the development and utilization of natural resources, or enter into co-production, joint venture or production agreements to achieve sustainable development and natural resources conservation objectives (Argete 1998). The Constitution has virtually stopped the practice of awarding concessions, leases, or timber licenses.

TLAs were also banned since they had been abused by favoring only large-scale operations (Wallace 1993; Porter and Ganapin 1988; Vitug 1993). The Constitution has supported and strengthened the Government’s efforts, to take drastic measures in dealing with holders of TLAs. Many TLAs were suspended, cancelled, modified or not renewed. These drastic actions reduced the number of TLA holders from 159 in 1986, to 26 in 1997, and less than 20 in 1998 (FMB/DENR 2000).

The Revised Forestry Code (Presidential Decree (PD) No. 705 of 1975)

The Revised Forestry Code provided the first formal forestry laws and policies in the Philippines. It mandated the Government to adopt a multiple-use approach to forestlands, accelerate land classification, delineate forest boundaries, rationalize wood-processing plants, enhance forest protection and development through industrial tree plantations, conduct a census and recognize some forest occupants, and continue to support the implementation of selective logging. The revised Code created the powerful BFD to formulate and implement forest sector policies, strategies, and programs.

Some provisions of the Code that have not been rendered invalid by the Constitution, EO 192, and succeeding laws, still apply. From 1975 to 1987, PD 705 dominated the thinking in the forestry sector. Twelve years of implementing the Code institutionalized many processes, regulations, operational guidelines, and organizational structures. PD 705 strengthened the regulatory powers of the BFD, reduced the focus on reforestation and rehabilitation of forestlands, and institutionalized the “timber-orientation” of many professional foresters. On the other hand, the Code allowed “occupants” to rehabilitate forests and provided an opportunity for forestry workers in the private sector to organize cooperatives and participate as co-owners of concessions.

Executive Order No. 192 of 1987

Executive Order No. 192 downgraded the powerful BFD, a line bureau of the former Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), into a DENR staff bureau. The forestry sector’s concerns were taken over by the Forest Management Bureau (FMB) of the DENR field offices at the regional, provincial, and community levels. The DENR Secretary with the technical and policy advice of the Director of the FMB acts on all forest policy-related matters at the national level, while the DENR field offices execute the programs.

This Order mandated that the DENR formulate and implement administrative policies that support the Constitution and do not violate the relevant provisions of PD 705. The Order, with the legislative authority of former President Aquino, was penned in the context of the 1987 Constitution before the First Congress was convened. It stated:

“The Department shall be the primary government agency responsible for the conservation, management, development and proper use of the country’s environment and natural resources, specifically forest and grazing lands, mineral resources, including those in reservations and watershed areas, and lands of the public domain, as well as the licensing and regulation of all natural resources as may be provided for by law in order to ensure equitable sharing of the benefits therefrom for the welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos.”

The DENR used the EO 192 under the 1987 Constitution when it formulated the Philippine Strategy for Sustainable Development (PSSD) (DENR 1990a; PSSD 1997). It adopted the PSSD to promote economic growth through adequate protection of the country’s biodiversity, vital ecosystem functions and the overall environmental quality (Argete 1998). The PSSD has advocated proper pricing and natural resource accounting of all forest products and commodities, lesser dependency on forest product sourced from the natural forests, and CBFM with the participation of indigenous people and women.

The DENR was also guided by the EO 192 and the 1987 Constitution when it formulated the MPFD as a 25-year plan for the development of the forestry sector (DENR 1990; Pollisco 1999). The MPFD was a response to the massive deforestation and forest degradation, and the need for the sector to become a significant player in sustainable development, generating rural employment, and ensuring stable and continuing supply of domestic forest products. The MFPD presented a macro-level and holistic approach to the multi-dimensional concerns of forestry.

Republic Act 7161 of 1991 and Republic Act 7586 of 1992

The RA 7161 (Increasing the Forest Charges on Timber and Other Forest Products) and RA 7586 (National Integrated Protected Area System) were the first initiatives of the reorganized DENR under the EO 192. They were a response to a national demand to identify, delineate, and invest in the remaining protected areas of the country; and to the need of capturing acceptable economic rents. The implementation of these policies largely benefited from the studies of Mendoza (1991 and 1993), Mcketta (1992), Boado (1988) and Bautista (1992).

The NIPAS law strengthened the DENR’s mandate to set aside forestlands as “protected areas” to preserve biodiversity and critical habitats, and to carry out its mandate under the EO 192. The framers of the NIPAS law saw the impending threat to the forestlands and the need to implement a logging ban. The preservation of the remaining 0.8 to 1 million ha of old-growth forests was included in the law.

The Forest Charges Law allows the Government to charge for the use of forest resources. The charges increased from as low as US$1/m3 to as high as 25 percent of the FOB price for timber harvested on public lands in the early 1990s (Argete 1998; Wallace 1993). This law was only enacted in 1993, despite previous studies that highlighted the substantial amount of potential forest rent lost by the Government because the rates charged for use of the forestlands were well below the market rate (Boado 1988; Bautista 1992). The increase in forest charges was only adopted when the total AACs of TLAs were approximately a quarter of those in 1990, about one-seventh of the AAC levels of 1985, and only about one-twelfth the levels of 1980 (FMB/DENR 2000). Those in power or influence before and during the martial law years clearly benefited from low forest charges (Vitug 1993). The low rents also contributed to the mentality of “cut, cut, and get out quickly” of many concession holders.

Executive Order No. 263 of 1995

Consistent with the spirit of the 1987 Constitution, EO 192, and the PSSD, President Fidel Ramos signed the EO 263 mandating the adoption of CBFM as the national strategy for sustainable forestry and social justice. EO 263 recognizes the need for the Government to enter into long-term agreements with communities and the indigenous people for the protection, rehabilitation, development, conservation, and management of forestlands. The Government has to respond to the communities’ need for long-term tenure and resource-use rights provided they employ low-impact and labor-intensive harvesting methods.

The signing of the EO 263 was a major milestone for the 20 million Filipinos in the uplands. Unlike previous community forestry administrative and presidential decrees, EO 263 enables the Government to allocate forestlands, even those with natural forests, to participating communities for protection, development, and management (Guiang and Harker 1998; Guiang 1996).

Republic Act 7160 of 1991

While the forest policies were becoming increasingly focused on social equity, sustainability, protecting biodiversity and environment, the RA 7160 (Local Government Code) opened the way for partial devolution of environment and natural resource functions to the LGUs (Brillantes 2000; IPC 1997; Salazar and Zenit 1993). The Code was designed to redress the skewed power relations between the central and local Governments.

The Local Government Code made it possible for the LGUs to share in the protection, conservation and management of forest resources, especially in assisting communities in social forestry (Marco 1992). The power to “allocate forestlands, and issue resource-use rights, environmental compliance certificates, and land titles” was not shared and remained with DENR (Guiang 2000). The Code, however, enabled the LGUs (provinces, municipalities, and barangays) to share income from forest charges. At least 40 percent of the forest charges were paid to the LGUs with territorial jurisdiction over the areas where the forest resources were extracted.

The Code also opened up opportunities for the LGUs to enter into co-management agreements with the DENR for the protection and management of forestlands, especially in areas that have been declared communal watershed reservations but were previously unmanaged (DILG-DENR 1998). For example, the Code paved the way for Puerto Princesa in Palawan to enter into an agreement with the DENR to protect and manage the St. Paul Subterranean National Park. The Code also inspired the provincial Government of Nueva Vizcaya and the DENR to agree to protect and manage a 24 000 ha forest reserve. Over the years, co-management has become the DENR’s modality for allowing LGUs to actively participate in the protection, development, and management of forestlands with communal management objectives.

Republic Act 8371 o f 1997

The RA 8371 (Indigenous People’s Rights Act) mandates the recognition, protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous people. Its influence cuts across the forestry sector because the issuance of CADCs or Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs) are land allocations that include forestlands with or without forest resources. CADCs or CADTs are land allocations that have significant impacts on commercial or conservation forestry. These instruments are by themselves permanent tenure for indigenous people who have claims on the forestlands, including protected areas. The Act also created the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples under the Office of the President to assist the indigenous people.

Policy impacts

Table 24 provides a list of the perceived impacts of forestry policies over the years. As noted earlier, the RAs, the EOs, and the PDs are backed by the DENR through the implementation of rules and regulations as well as administrative orders, memorandum circulars, and memorandum orders. In the forestry sector, most of the orders and circulars have been meant to regulate instead of deregulate the use of forestland and resources. Consequently, the forestry sector was considered one of the most regulated industries in the country (Lu 1998; Olizon 1991; Guiang and Manila 1994; Seve 1995; Mickelwait et al. 1999). While the laws are stable and generally consistent, the operational policies embodied in the administrative decrees have almost always been revised with each change of administration and DENR leadership.

Table 24. Major impacts of Philippines’ key forestry policies


Impact areas

Key policy determinants


Forest cover
PD 705, 1987 Constitution and EO 192
The privilege-driven system of awarding resource-use access under PD 705 combined with low forest charges, increased upland migration, and expansion of agriculture accelerated forest degradation and loss of forest cover. The cancellation, non-renewal, and suspension of TLAs increased open access and contributed to illegal logging and cutting. These have greatly added to the loss of forest cover.
Open access
1987 Constitution and EO 192
Increased open access as a result of TLA cancellation, suspension, and non-renewal. Alternative instruments to close open access and stabilize tenure are not in place.
Biodiversity, watersheds, and habitat protection
RA 7586
Increase in protected area “set asides” and watershed reservations. These areas now comprise at least 15 percent of the total forestlands.
Supply of forest products
RA 7586 and 1987 Constitution
The gradual reduction of commercial harvesting in natural forests and the low investment in forest plantations due to poor incentives have made the country increasingly dependent on imports and substitutes.
Participation of key stakeholders - communities, private sector, LGUs, and environmental groups
RA 7160, EO 263, 1987 Constitution and RA 7161
The LGUs, communities and environmental groups are increasing their demands for sustainable forest management. The private sector has been marginalized but is not totally out of the picture.
Allocation of forest resources and forestlands
RA 8371, EO 263 and 1987 Constitution
Almost 4 million ha of forestlands have been allocated to upland communities, indigenous people, and LGUs. The private sector owns a little more than 1.3 million ha. The opposite was true in the 1970s and 1980s when TLAs controlled at least 10 million ha or two-thirds of the total forestlands.
Paradigm of forest management
EO 192, RA 7586 and 1987 Constitution
From a timber-oriented system of forest management to a people-oriented ecosystem and watershed approach of managing forestlands.

A closer examination of Table 24 reveals several key points:


  • Before 1986, policies on implementing the PD 705 were consistent and predictable, although the industry was also highly regulated (Olizon 1991). After 1986, administrative decrees became erratic, inconsistent, and unpredictable. Before the EDSA revolution, policy changes were influenced mostly through patronage; after EDSA, the upsurge of environmental NGOs, powerful media, and newly rediscovered democracy greatly influenced the policies and governance of the environment and natural resources. Olizon (1991) claimed that from 1975 to the early 1990s, the administrative policies on industrial tree plantations changed 20 times. Indeed, the rate of policy change was much higher than the capacity to implement the policies. Regulations regarding timber harvesting are also restrictive. Harvesting timber from the natural forests has almost become a crime. Even to cut planted species in Eastern Mindanao now requires farmers to submit 11 documents to the DENR field offices before harvest and transport permits are issued.

  • There are renewed efforts to shift forest management from a timber production orientation to community-based and multiple-use management (FMB/DENR 1998). There has also been an increased realization that forests yield non-timber forest products in addition to timber.

  • The cancellation, non-renewal and suspension of many TLAs have resulted in an increase in open access areas, making the DENR the leading absentee landlord in the country (Hyde et al. 1996; Johnson 1997). More than 5 million ha of forestlands, with and without forest cover, are considered to be open access (FMB/DENR 2000; Mickelwait et al. 1999).

  • Since the early 1990s, forest policies have increasingly allocated forestlands to communities and indigenous people, with the subsequent reduction of forestlands under TLAs. TLAs cover only 1.3 to 1.4 million ha, and CBFMAs and CADCs cover 3.8 million ha (FMB/DENR 2000). This shift has considerable implications, especially in the context of providing technical, financial and managerial assistance. Encouraged by the Local Government Code, more LGUs are requesting allocations of forestlands and resources for their own communal forests, watersheds and municipal parks. These allocations will continue to influence the formulation of operational policies (La Vina 1997 and 1998).

  • The private sector’s participation in formulating key administrative guidelines and regulations for the industry has been marginalized (Olizon 1991; Lu 1998). The private sector, to a certain degree, has become a victim of the upsurge of environmental advocacy and “democratization” process; it has yet to regain its damaged credibility in the management of forestlands. The private sector role in the protection, development and management of forest resources is presently not clear except where TLAs, IFMAs and other use permits are still active. Despite the growing demand for timber from plantations, with few exceptions, the private sector has hesitated to proceed with IFMAs. They feel constrained by a lack of long-term financing, and the need to collaborate with communities, as well as the unpredictable and changing forest policies.

  • The current policies divert the focus from forest management to curbing abuses of TLA holders, preserving and conserving biodiversity and protected areas, shifting responsibility for forest management from commercial operators to communities, strengthening the bureaucracy, and large-scale rehabilitation efforts, especially with the funds from the Asian Development Bank (ADB 1998) and the World Bank. As a result, the process of creating the foundation for the long-term development of a stable wood and fiber supply has been neglected. Most recommendations of the MPFD (DENR 1990a) have not been realized or seriously implemented. As a result, the Philippines has been increasingly becoming dependent on imported forest products - both for furniture manufacturing and local consumption (FMB/DENR 2000; Sanvictores 1997b; Cadiz 1999).

  • The post-EDSA forest policies allowed the participation of various stakeholders in the policy making process through consensus-building within and between the public and private sectors at different hierarchical levels (Malayang III 1998). This process gradually rendered the former “command and control” approach of forest management ineffective. The issue of “policy ownership” at the different levels of the DENR, LGUs and communities has taken center-stage. Time and government inputs in the “brokering” process have become critical factors before decisions are reached.

  • The emergence of environmental NGOs and the increasing participation of LGUs in advocacy and direct protection and management of forestlands have strengthened forest conservation. The partial devolution of key environment and natural resource functions to LGUs has been raised as a major issue in recasting or modifying the Local Government Code (Brillantes 2000).


More than 70 percent of the Philippine’s 77 provinces,4 now have logging bans or moratoria for a variety of reasons (Table 25) (FMB/DENR 1999; DENR 1999). These bans or moratoria are covered by administrative orders, letters of instruction from the Office of the President, radiogram orders or laws such as the NIPAS Law and the RA 7611 (Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan). The logging bans “disallow the extraction of timber from the natural forests.” The cancellation, suspension and non-renewal of TLAs have also supported logging bans in concession areas.

The DENR issued an administrative order in 1991, which banned timber harvests in all old-growth/virgin forests. The same order banned timber harvesting in areas above 50 percent slope and in areas located more than 1000 m above sea level. Old-growth forests should be delineated in the concessions of TLA holders. Holders are not allowed to harvest the old-growth forests; they are instructed to protect these areas as part of their forest management functions. These restrictions do not apply if the old-growth forests are located in protected areas and watershed reservations since they are part of the Government’s direct responsibility (although, in reality, many of these areas and reservations are exposed because of the Government’s limited resources). Old-growth forests located in cancelled, abandoned, suspended or non-renewed TLAs and the adjacent residual forests are most vulnerable to poachers, illegal cutters and slash-and-burn farming.

Current policies allow harvesting in residual forests that are covered by TLAs, CBFMAs and, to a certain extent, in CADCs if the forests are not located in protected areas, watershed reservations or areas above 1000 m above sea level and slope above 50 percent. There are at least 500 000 ha of residual forests under existing TLAs. The residual forests that are under CBFMAs or CADCs but outside the protected areas, reservations, or old-growth forests may also be harvested. In September 1998, however, the DENR suspended the harvesting rights of the holders of CBFMAs and CADCs. This suspension was only lifted in early 2000 when more restrictive provisions were established.

Based on the analysis of CBFMAs and CADCs, which were assisted by the USAID-funded Natural Resources Management Program, approximately 45 percent of residual forests in Luzon are covered by these tenures, while 30 percent of Mindanao’s forests are residual (Mickelwait et al. 1999). At least 0.2 million ha of residual forests are still in open access areas.

The estimated 2 million ha of productive residual forests (TLA’s 0.5 million ha, CBFMAs/CADCs’ 1.3 million ha, and the 0.2 million ha of residual forest in open access forestlands) are the center of the ongoing debate about the logging bans. There is a proposal to ban timber harvests in all natural forests in the Philippines. The TLA areas comprise only 3 percent of the total forestland in the Philippines, or 25 percent of the 2 million ha of residual forests where logging is allowed. The total TLA area of natural forests (residual) that will be affected by the logging ban will gradually decline to only 72,000 ha by the year 2010 (Sanvictores 1997b). The residual forests that are within the existing CBFMAs and CADCs are areas where timber harvest may be allowed to augment local wood supplies. In summary, the ban of timber harvests from the natural forests will only affect the residual forests of the TLAs, CBFMAs and CADCs, or almost 70 percent of forestlands under the management of communities.


Goals and objectives

The logging ban or moratorium of commercial logging covers a wide range of goals and objectives. These are not clearly specified in statutes or directives, but are inferred from a review of FMB/DENR’s list of logging bans as follows:


  • Protect the critical watersheds or drainage areas of river systems supporting existing or proposed hydroelectric power facilities, irrigation works or existing water facilities in need of immediate protection or rehabilitation (PD 705).

Watershed protection is the basis of the logging ban in Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, Angat and Penaranda, Quirino, and in other watershed areas.

  • Protect the forest cover of areas that are highly prone to flash floods and hazardous flooding.

This is the basis for logging bans along the Marikina-Infanta Highway, in central Luzon, parts of Nueva Ecija, Catanduanes, Zambales, Leyte and Southern Leyte, parts of Cagayan, Pangasinan, Mizamis provinces.

  • Preserve biodiversity and protect threatened habitats and sanctuaries of endangered and rare species.

This is the basis for logging bans on the island of Palawan, Negros Occidental, Sarangani, Siargao islands, and other protected areas.

  • Allow natural regeneration and development of plantation forests.

This is the basis for logging bans in provinces with a timber deficit, or areas whose forest cover is below 40 percent of the total land area.

Proposed bills on logging bans

The proposed bill to enact a logging ban under Senate Bill S. No. 1067 (11th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines 1999) entitled, “An Act to Protect the Forest by Banning All Commercial Logging Operations, Providing Mechanisms for its Effective Enforcement and Implementation and for Other Purposes” intends to:

“Conserve and enhance the natural resources, not only of its economic or environmental role, but also because of its social and cultural importance; prevent environmental disaster and sustain for the succeeding generations the natural wealth of the nation. Towards this end, the State shall provide sufficient forestlands, vigorously pursue and support protection and conservation, promote and encourage the involvement of all sectors of society and maximize people participation in forest conservation and protection.”

The key provisions of this proposed bill are:

  • prohibition of all commercial logging operations in all types of forest (old-growth and residuals) for a period of 20 to 30 years;

  • provision of mechanisms and funding support for monitoring and evaluation, and increasing and strengthening forest protection activities;

  • dependence on forest plantations and substitutes; and
  • provision of social safety nets for the upland population and industry workers.

In this case, commercial logging means the “cutting, felling, or destruction of trees from old-growth and residual forests for the purpose of selling or otherwise disposing of the cut or felled logs for profit.”

The partial logging ban bill, particularly the “Act Providing for the Sustainable Management of Forest Resources and for Other Purposes” (Senate S.B. 1311) allows logging in residual forests but not in old-growth forests, areas above 50 percent slope, mossy forests, national parks and protected area systems. Good-performing and existing TLA holders may convert to co-production, joint venture or production sharing agreements after expiry of their current contracts. The partial logging ban approach embraces sustainable and integrated management and development of forest resources. It utilizes watersheds as the planning unit, adopts community-based and multi-sector participation in forest management, and provides for permanent forest boundaries. Reforestation and agroforestry are key interventions in marginal forestlands. Finally, the bill encourages professionalism in forestry, security of tenure, and the need to conserve biodiversity. This is also one of the private sector’s acceptable modalities for the future of forestry in the Philippines (Olizon 1991).


The residual forests in natural forest production areas are not explicitly covered by the logging bans and therefore are potential targets for future timber harvesting by either holders of TLAs, CBFMAs, IFMAs, and to a certain extent, CADCs.

Policy implications

Several policies and actions are required to effectively implement a logging ban in the Philippines’ residual forests. Whether a partial or complete logging ban is imposed, new and modified Government and DENR policies and support systems will be necessary to ensure that mechanisms, services, logistics, and structures and other relevant sub-systems are in place to implement and enforce the ban. Otherwise, as stressed by Fernandez et al. (1989), Bautista (1994), Carandang et al. (1996) and Mickelwait et al. (1999), a logging ban policy for the residual forests could quickly become ineffective. Even enforcing the existing logging ban policies has almost been impossible. Unless Government resources are re-allocated, aligned and committed for enforcement, the logging ban in residual forests cannot ensure the protection and management of the remaining natural forests for ecological and biodiversity purposes.

The proposed logging ban in residual forests in active TLAs, CBFMAs, CADCs and open access forestlands would require the following:

  • Empowerment of the LGUs to enable their participation in actively managing forestlands (Mercado 1998; Magno 1999): Although the LGUs have to ensure that their forests do not become an open-access resource, the Local Government Code currently has no provision to prevent this from happening. In fact, most LGUs with logging bans affecting their lands would be deprived of revenues. Currently, the LGUs also do not have enough incentives or interest to risk their own well-being to enforce forest protection. Policies are needed to empower the LGUs to more effectively protect forests under their jurisdiction.

  • Provision of consistent and stable policies to provide incentives to communities to protect their own forestlands: Presently, this is not the case. Community access to resources, and stability of this form of tenure, are extremely vulnerable and subject to cumbersome regulations. They largely depend on the mood and perspective of the current DENR leadership (Mickelwait et al. 1999; DENR DAO 2000-29; Cadaweng and Guiang 1999; NRMP/Region 10, 1999; ESSC 1999b).

  • Improvement of policies for private investments in tree plantations and related wood-processing facilities: The Philippines is 15 to 20 years behind in the establishment of industrial tree plantations as a means to augment wood supplies (Cadiz 1999; World Bank 1999c). Only stable, consistent and predictable forest policies and a system of deregulation and decentralization will attract private investments in tree plantations (Olizon 1991; Lu 1998; Oposa 1995). The present policies are highly regulatory in nature and transaction costs are too high. For instance, various local stakeholders in 13 regions reported that at each major checkpoint transporters were charged approximately 250 pesos for passage. In Region 4, a medium-sized truck carrying a load of wood pays 3 000 to 7 000 pesos at each of the 14 checkpoints from Dinadiawan to Bulacan. An audit report of the CBFMA holder in Lianga, Surigao del Sur showed that there was a “leakage of at least 30 percent of the total income as grease money.” There is extreme need to simplify and deregulate the harvest and transport of timber derived from plantations. Fast-growing hardwoods must also be reclassified as agricultural crops to minimize regulations.

  • Provision of an appropriate incentive system to encourage field personnel to improve enforcement of DENR policies: The role of the DENR should shift from regulation to one of providing services to communities, the private sector, LGUs and NGOs. This change will require significant investments in training, re-orienting, re-engineering and modifying operational policies (Borlagdan 1998).

  • Demarcation and identification of forest resources in communities where residents may harvest for construction and other domestic needs.

  • Improving access to foreign exchange to facilitate the importation of forest products, particularly from within the Asia-Pacific region.

  • Allocation of funds to support forest protection, monitoring, information and education, public awareness programs, and extension.

Environmental implications

Adequate implementation of logging bans will definitely allow the degraded natural forests to regenerate over time. Under proper management and protection, the natural forests can recover and ensure a constant wood supply (Tagudar 1997). In theory, if a logging ban is adopted, there will be no further damage to the forest stand and soil from logging activities (Ludwig and Pena 1991). A logging ban with managed natural regeneration can have a positive impact on the wildlife population with the exception of flora (Alonzo 1993; CPPAP 1999). De Padua and Cardenas (1996) and Rojo (1996) found that residual forests have higher biodiversity than old-growth forests. Sustainable forest management will also improve the upper watersheds. Carbon sequestration in the residual forests and brushlands will accelerate since there will be less disturbance and destruction in the timber lands.

Analysts expect there will be an increase in illegal logging activities. As estimated, this will involve cutting on approximately 90 000 ha, constituting an important part of the annual average deforestation of about 100 000 ha. These illegal activities further complicate issues involved in slash and burn farming and the conversion of brushlands to upland farms.

Without necessary financial support mechanisms and “social fences,” the implementation of a logging ban for the residual forests will not achieve the desired positive environmental impacts. If the logging ban is to be a success, there must be clearly defined and enforced property rights. Stable and consistent policies must be adopted, and appropriate incentives must be provided for communities, LGUs, and DENR field staff to enforce the logging ban (Sinues 1997; Knox 1999; Laarman 1994; Johnson 1997).





The reason why we have water pollution is not basically the paper or pulp mills. It is, rather, the social side of humans—our unwillingness to support reform government, to place into office the best qualified candidates, to keep in office the best talent, and to see to it that legislation both evolves from and inspires wise social planning with a human orientation.

~Stewart L. Udall