Green Convergence’s Galang: “Update PH communal forest policy!”
Environmental Coalition Green Convergence held the 345th installment of the monthly Kamayan Para sa Kalikasan Forum last December 21, 2018 at Kamayan Restaurant, EDSA, Mandaluyong City. Resource speakers included forester Amie Rabang of the Forest Management Bureau and Liberty Talastas-Bituin, a member of the indigenous people in the Cordilleras. They discussed Communal Forest and the status of its implementation.
Rabang stated that “there are 649 assigned communal forests all over the Philippines designated through Memorandum of Agreements between LGUs and the DENR.”
“In our experience in the Cordilleras, several areas not declared as communal forests are sustainably developed that provides livelihood while sustaining the area’s ecological integrity,” asserted Talastas-Bituin.
Rabang declared that “most of the assigned communal forests are disestablished by the DENR because they no longer provide timber.” She further added that “communal forests were conceptualized in 1995 with the main objective of providing timber for the country.”
Talastas-Bituin emphasized that “it is important that LGUs should conduct regular consultative meetings with the communities in the formulation of forest management plans to effectively use and protect these forests.”
Rabang seconded and further explained that communal forests should be included in the land use plans of the local governments.
The Local Government Code grants local government units (LGUs) the right to plan and manage identified communal forests. We also have the Community-Based Forest Management Program, where a production-sharing agreement between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and participating people’s organizations (POs). for 25 years, renewable for another 25 years provide tenurial security and incentives to co-develop, co-utilize and co-manage specific portions of forest lands (DENR Administrative Order No. 96-29).
Realizing that these programs need to be modified to be attuned to the current environmental situation Green Convergence President Angelina Galang concluded that “it is urgent that government updates its policy on communal forests to avoid misuse and overuse of these identified forest lands.” She further highlighted the importance and critical role of forests as mitigation and adaptation instruments to protect us from devastating effects of climate change.
Now on its 29th year, Kamayan Para sa Kalikasan Forum has become an institutionalized platform since March 1990 that enables NGO and government representatives, the media, students, teachers, church groups, and concerned citizens to discuss pressing environmental issues in the country. This month’s forum is supported by Kamayan Restaurant EDSA with the assistance of the Forest Foundation Philippines.
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