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Lower House determined to enact sustainable forest management law

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Government of the Philippines
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Cagayan de Oro City (22 November) -- There's now hope for the Philippines to reverse the continued destruction of what little is left of its forested mountains.

Authors of 13 different bills filed in the House of Representatives that seek to reform the country's forest management laws have agreed the other day to approve a consolidated version of a Sustainable Forest Management Act out of the best features of individual bills.

The consensus was arrived at in a joint hearing of the committees on natural resources and the special committee on reforestation headed by congressmen Francisco Matugas and Victor Yu last Wednesday.

Setting a timetable for the passage of the new forestry law, Congressman Matugas said that a technical working group must finish a consolidated version before the end of this year which Congress must be able to pass into law by next year in line with the celebration of the international forestry year.

Seen as a revolutionary legislation, most of the proposals revolve around the setting up of a broad-based sustainable forest management system that will involve communities in towns and cities, local governments and indigenous communities.

Master planning and over-all regulation of the care and use of the forests will remain in the hands of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

It departs radically from the old concept of forest management as the proposed law changes the whole orientation of forest management from exploitation to restoration, care and use to uplift those with stakes in forest products.

As a declared policy, the sustainable forest management bill mandates the delineation of what exactly will constitute permanent forest lands that will not be converted to other uses.

Under old laws, more than half of the country's land mass of 30 million hectares was classified as forest land, but pretty much of that is now barren, pointed out some of the authors of the proposed law in their explanatory notes.

The new law when passed, classifies forest lands into protection forests that will be preserved and protected and production forests that will be used for livelihood and commercial purposes under strict sustainable forest management rules.

Within the production forests, fixed tenurial rights will be given to those who will get involved in their development, from indigenous communities to agro-forestry investors. (PHILEXPORT) [top]


Extpub | by Dr. Radut