Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, June 08, 2009

Asean forest experts to tackle climate change in Subic meet

A conference on social forestry and its role in climate change mitigation and adaptation in Southeast Asia starts today in Subic, Zambales.

Some 30 forestry experts from member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) are taking part in the conference dubbed 3rd Asean Social Forestry Network (ASFN) meeting. The four-day event will focus on Asean members’ efforts to strengthen regional cooperation in promoting social forestry as a strategy toward sustainable forest management.

At the same time, the experts will discuss the role of social forestry in climate change mitigation and adaptation, including ongoing initiatives in climate change mitigation mechanisms in Asean countries.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through its Forest Management Bureau, is hosting the meeting at the Subic International Hotel. “With the region as having one of the world’s richest biodiversities, governments of Asean countries, including the Philippines, have taken keen interests in the social approach to forestry conservation,” DENR Secretary Lito Atienza said.

According to Atienza, the concept of involving upland communities in the country’s reforestation program could be traced back to the early 70’s through a two-year forest occupancy permit issued by the Bureau of Forest Development to families. The occupancy permit then evolved into a renewable 25-year certificate of stewardship Contract through the Social Forestry Program, now known as the Community-based Forest Management Program (CBFMP).

Atienza, a staunch supporter of the prolife movement, has always maintained on the primacy of the people’s welfare over other objectives in the implementation of any development program. “There is no real development until we have put premium on the people’s welfare. And this is true in forest management, thus, the concept of social forestry.”

FMB director and head of Philippine delegation Marlo Mendoza will keynote the Asean meeting when it formally opens on June 11, with Ali Wafa Pudjiono, secretary of the ASFN secretariat and Pralong Dumrongthai, ASFN chairperson and ASFN leader of Thailand giving the opening remarks.

Comprising the key agenda for the meet include country reports on the ASFN and its strategic plan of action (2007-12); status of implementation of policy framework on  Asean cooperation in forestry, particularly the Asean Charter and the Asean Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint; sustainability plan for the ASFN;  and proposed collaborative projects with partner organizations like the Regional Community Forestry Training Center for Asia and the Pacific in partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

A field visit to a CBFM site in barangay Cawag, Subic on June 12 will enable the ASFN delegates to dialogue with CBFM beneficiaries comprising about 150 families from the Cawag Upland Farmers Association undertaking agro-forestry and tree plantation development.

A side event on June 10 will have the experts tackle the issue of promoting the role of social forestry in climate-change mitigation and adaptation, while the implementation status of CBFM, including challenges and opportunities, as well as other programs related to CBFM shall be discussed on June 9. Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga - Business Mirror Correspondent

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