Saturday, August 29, 2015

Timber Problems


TIMBER PROBLEMS
By Anton Antonio
August 29, 2015

There are problems in the uplands and forestlands.  The basic product that uplands offer is timber. Timber production is not spared from problems such as:
  1. Ineffective Laws and Regulations – There are sufficient laws to protect our forestlands.  The problem revolves around the actual enforcement of such laws.  Another is the sloppy implementation of government-initiated plans and programs on the environment.  The primary governmental agency in charge of implementing environmental and forestry laws is the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  Corrupt practices in this agency make it easy for forestry law violators to get away without punishment.  It is a widespread perception that some DENR officials even encourage illegal logging activities. 
  2. Lack of Security of Tenure – Most forestland is public domain (meaning: land owned directly by government).  Tenurial instruments (meaning: the act, fact, manner, or condition of holding something in one’s possession; and, a period during which something is held) are granted by government as a means to allow qualified individuals and organizations to be stewards of a defined forest area.  These tenurial instruments, however, are largely dependent on political considerations.  In a country where public officials are elected every 3 years, tenure becomes a political commodity and an expensive problem to the tenurial instrument holder.
  3. Lack of Planning – Trees and tree plantations, depending on the specific specie, take an average of 10 to 15 years to grow to maturity.  Most present-day forestry planning is myopic and short term.  Even long term plans are normally lost and forgotten because of changing priorities and developmental direction of government.  Continuity of plans and program remains to be the cause of developmental program failures.
  4. Undesirable Upland Practices – Upland and forest dweller have their own set of practices based on their indigenous culture, customs and traditions.  Oftentimes, these practices are contrary to sustainable development-related forestry programs.  Harmonizing indigenous knowledge with modern management technology remains to be a problem.
  5. Lack of Financial Incentives – Due to the fact that trees and tree plantations have a relatively longer period to grow and develop, financial support becomes a key issue.  The fact that forest lands are not privately owned but government property makes it impossible for lending institutions to facilitate credit.  It must be noted that banks will only allow collateralized loans.  With government not willing to give financial support to private persons and individuals, projects and programs are left to simply planning but never implemented.  Besides, the prevailing mindset on government financial support, even if these are in the form of loans, is that they are dole outs… and, therefore, acceptable not to pay them.
  6. Illegal Logging – Illegal logging is one of the primary causes for forest cover loss.  Not like tenurial instrument holders, illegal loggers have no obligation whatsoever to embark on reforestation, timber stand improvement, enhancement planting and other silvicultural activities.  The net result of timber harvesting without parallel planting will be forest cover loss (at the very least) and deforestation (at the very worst).
  7. Security – Insurgency is less of a problem in highly urbanized areas but a real concern in rural and forest areas.

These are the main problems of timber development and production although there are other relatively minor concerns.  Perhaps, we could simply call these our “timber problems.”

Thoughts to promote positive action…

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