Advocating Biodiversity Conservation Policies for National Legislation
This project aims to lobby with congress legislators for the enactment of the Forest Resource Bill (FRB), reactivate the Sagip Gubat Network, and conduct a Policy Forum and media campaign for the FRB.
Forests are a source of water for agriculture; as carbon sinks that trap carbon dioxide in our warming planet; as protection for heavy rains, storms and their attendant floods; and as our main source of clean air and water. Unfortunately current government definitions state that a 10 percent forest cover in half a hectare of land is a “forest."
The FRB uses a functional definition of "forest." Forests are more than just a collection of trees. Instead, forests are best described as an ecosystem where trees are the dominant life form, a community of plants and animals interacting with one another and the physical environment, and whose trees have an overlapping crown of 60-100% forest cover. In the FRB, all remaining natural forests will be protected, forest restoration will be prioritized, local governments will be empowered to play important roles in forest management, and the watershed continuum will be recognized as the basic forestland management unit. Indigenous people's rights will also be protected.
These provisions were adopted in the draft bills on the National Land Use Act (NLUA) and the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB). With the Forest Resources Bill, these three bills are collectively known as the Green Bills.
The Sagip Gubat Network came about as a product of the advocacy of a civil society version of the Sustainable Forest Management Bill where members expressed the need for a network to focus on legislative advocacy focusing on forestry issues. The network was originally led by the Haribon Foundation as its convenor. Now called the FRB Network, it is composed of Civil Society Organizations, People’s Organizations and individuals advocating for the sustainable management of forest ecosystems in the country. When the proposal for a policy campaign between Haribon and FPE was finalized and operationalized, one of the key objectives was to revitalize the Sagip Gubat Network. The project had reached out to both traditional and non-traditional partners to mobilize support for the Forest Resources Bill. From the initial 10 organizations, it expanded to 30 groups including 8 networks and 22 individual organizations. The network worked closely with Rep. Teddy Baguilat for technical support during the House Technical Working Group (TWG) meetings.
Latest updates from the field
A prime opportunity came along with the filing of the Protected Areas Act 2014 (SB 1901) in the Senate, and the approval of the third and final reading of the same bill, which is now called the Expanded NIPAS Bill (ENIPAS). The bill was consistent with the FRB’s call for the protection of all natural forests especially those without current protection.
On April 2015, a workshop on the Philippine forest definition and treatment of natural and residual forests was conducted during the 24th Philippine Biodiversity Symposium in Catarman, Samar. Participants signified their interest to be updated on the developments of the FRB, and the opportunity to dovetail the workshop with the symposium resulted in reduction of costs for the project. The savings generated were used to cover expenses for the Green March, where Haribon joined forces with other environmental networks to advocate for the 3 Green Bills: the FRB, NLUA, and AMMB at Quezon City Memorial Circle. Over 500 composed of POs, NGOs, and students participated in the July 2015 event and learned about the importance of the bills in their daily lives and the threats and challenges that may be encountered with the absence of these bills.
Media work was strengthened through the monitoring of news and preparation of press statements, letters to the editors and press conferences. Networking with media personnel also improved coverage.
To bring science and community-based successes from the ground to the national level, passing biodiversity conservation policies in the country.
Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE)
March 2014 to August 2015
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