Forests play an important role in the well-being of our planet. They are often called the lungs of Earth, as they draw in massive amounts of carbon dioxide and in turn release oxygen which is a primary building block of life. But because of modernization, forest lands were cleared for farms, industrial zones, and even residential areas. Coupled with irresponsible and illegal logging, the depletion of our forests contributed to the creation of one of the biggest threats facing mankind climate change.
There have been many steps taken to address climate change or global warming from a mandated reduction of carbon emissions agreed upon during the Paris Accords to the banning of greenhouse gases like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and even tree-planting activities spearheaded by both the public and private sectors—and yet many are still fearing that our actions came too late and that we have done irreparable damage to our environment.
But the fight is not over. Many organizations, agencies, and individuals are still gallantly waging a war against climate change. And in the field of forestry, one of the most important programs being implemented is sustainable forest management.
Sustainable forest management, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), addresses the significance of forest degradation and deforestation while increasing direct benefits to people and the environment. It means that this concept recognizes the inherent need of people for products directly derived from trees like timber and paper while also ensuring that our forests are protected and will continue to be ecologically viable for generations to come.
Socially, sustainable forest management contributes to livelihoods, income generation, and employment. By helping communities and individuals who primarily rely on forestry as their source of livelihood, this concept ensures that people can still earn off the land while protecting it from further damage.
Here in the country, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has committed itself to the promotion of sustainable forest management. It has said that the National Greening Program of the Philippines aims to expand forest cover, mitigate and adapt to climate change, conserve biodiversity, poverty alleviation and inclusive growth while adhering to the principles of good governance.
An Executive Order has also been issued in 2004 that further cements our commitment to sustainable forest management as an effective way to promote the protection of our forest cover while alleviating poverty all around the archipelago.
“In the Philippines, we believe that sustainable forest management is the only way forward.” Charlie Liu, Chairman of Philippine Wood Producers Association (PWPA) said. “By ensuring that we are balancing the needs of our people and the viability of our forests we can reach a more prosperous and sustainable future for the entire country.”
PWPA is one of the leading voices pushing for the wider adaptation of sustainable forest management practices here in the country. The organization, which boasts of members from various stakeholder organizations within the forestry sector, believes that we can become more involved in the protection of our forests while also pursuing the interests of many Filipinos whose livelihoods depend on forest-based industries.
“Many communities in the country are reliant on our forests to ensure that their families eat three times a day. It is of immense relevance that we look out for their well-being while protecting our forests from further damage, that is the very essence of sustainable forest management,” Mr. Liu said.
He further adds that sustainable forest management is a holistic approach to the problem facing our forests today as it not only focuses on the well-being of the environment but also zeroes in on the needs of the people who directly benefit from it.
“What’s good about sustainable forest management is that it solves the problem without leaving anyone behind. It is a realistic approach to a very real problem, and that’s what makes it effective. It approaches deforestation from all fronts ensuring that we promote the protection and well-being of our forests while pushing for social development,” Mr. Liu concludes.
Banner photo by: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS