Sustainable Forest Management Bill

2016 11 03 Community members and residents taking part in spotting Haring Ibon nest sites on Mt. Mingan by J Kahlil Panopio

The Sustainable Forest Management Bill or SFM aims to ensure that there is enough forest resources for present and future generations.

With the decline of forests from the 1900s to today, our forests have become increasingly vulnerable to climate effects due to deforestation and overexploitation. This loss has led to depleted ecosystem services – or the benefits that forests provide us including food, water, clean air, clothing, shelter, and protection from calamities. 

Unfortunately, loose implementation of existing policies failed to protect the country’s forests. Calls to update the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines were never met despite three decades of consistent campaigning. The need to revisit outdated policies is urgent. 

We need a policy that will strengthen forest management and sustainability for the future. The Forest Resources Bill (FRB) network is composed of civil society groups who filed the FRB during the 15th Congress. It highlights the principles of using the functional definition of forests, protecting all remaining natural forests, implementing a watershed continuum management (or ridge-to-reef) approach, and promoting multi-sectoral governance. 

The bill – now part of the Sustainable Forest Management Act – seeks to resolve contentious issues on forest management with the approval of an updated, responsive, and inclusive law. 

Forests play a large part in the water cycle as they absorb water through their roots, releasing it from their leaves through transpiration, and preventing run off. Planting more trees not only ensures our water security, but it is also a great legacy we can leave behind for our future generations.

The following is a brief summary of what the bill includes (read a Primer on the SFM here):

  • The bill seeks to redefine “utilization” into a more responsible term as “sustainable use,” and requires every qualified individual to be accountable in managing forest lands.
  • It is a consolidated version of policy proposals that provide sustainable solutions to properly manage and restore the country’s forests. 
  • Adheres to the constitution protecting and advancing the right of the Filipino people to a balanced and healthful ecology, and to conserve the natural wealth of the nation. 
  • It highlights the protection, conservation, and sustainable use of Philippine forests.

The SFM contributes to national and international targets

The SFM contributes to the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan or PBSAP, and the UN development targets established in the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.

The SFM supports the SDGs. See each goal and how the SFM supports them here.

See a full and detailed list of how the SFM contributes to both the PBSAP and SDGs here.

How you can help.

  • Spread awareness! Let people know that forests provide water, air, food, and timber! Ensuring the survival of our forests ultimately ensures the survival of all life. Share this at home, school, and work. 
  • Share online. Share posts about forests & the SFM by the Haribon Foundation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@goharibon). Don’t forget to tag Haribon and use hashtags such as #PassSFM and #PassGreenBills. 
  • Join a tree planting. Haribon also needs tree planting volunteers during the rainy season (June to December). Everyone – members & volunteers – are welcome to join. 
  • Promote parks & green spaces.Get in touch with your local government to establish or maintain tree parks in your area. 
  • Conserve water. Effective water conservation means lower demands for water. This ultimately lessens the pressure we put on our watersheds. 

Read the complete Primer on the bill here.

On-going work for forest governance via the Forest Governance Project or FOGOP is supported by the European Union, in partnership with BirdLife International. Learn more about the FOGOP project here.