Sustainable Forest Management Bill – A Primer


From the 1900s up to 2010, our abundant forest cover at 70% drastically declined to 22.8% (Philippine Forestry Statistics, 2015) with other studies showing far lower numbers. Our forests have become increasingly vulnerable to rapid 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 forest resources. Calls to update the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines was never met despite three decades of consistent campaigning. The need to revisit outdated policies must be urgent as we experience the devastating impacts of climate change in our midst.

We need a policy that will strengthen the management of Philippine forests and ensure its sustainability for future generations. The Forest Resources Bill (FRB) – which a network of civil society groups filed during the 15th Congress – 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 consolidated with the Sustainable Forest Management Act – seeks to resolve contentious issues on forest management with the approval of an updated, responsive, and inclusive law.

What is the Sustainable Forest Management Bill or SFM?

The SFM aims to ensure that there are enough forest resources for present & future generations. It highlights the protection, conservation, & sustainable use of our forests.

The bill consolidates all the policy proposals that seek to provide sustainable solutions to properly manage and restore the country’s decreasing forest cover.

SFM adheres to the mandates of the Philippine Constitution promoting social justice, protecting and advancing the right of the Filipino people to a balanced and healthful ecology, and conserving and developing the natural wealth of the nation.

The bill seeks to transform forest resources “utilization” into a more responsible “sustainable use,” and requires every qualified individual to be accountable in managing forest lands.

SFM Objectives

The SFM aspires to ensure the sustainable use of forest resources to support the country’s development by providing equitable access and benefit-sharing across stakeholders.

Specifically, it seeks to:

  • Undertake sustainable forest management strategies;
  • Promote sustainable livelihood and incentive mechanism for forest management;
  • Strengthen institutional mechanisms to respond to forest management concerns;
  • Establish Forest Management Units (FMUs) that can be managed by indigenous and local households, CSOs, business organizations, forest land tenure holders, national and local government units; and
  • Strengthen the role of FMB as a responsive and proactive body.

SFM Strategies

To attain such objectives, SFM adopts the following strategies:

  • Inclusive governance with local stakeholders adopting community-based forest management approaches
  • Integrated landscape planning and development in watersheds
  • Forest rehabilitation by using native species to enhance ecosystem services
  • Develop a framework that is suitable for every watershed
  • Recognize biodiversity conservation
  • Promote forestry research, extension and education
  • Forest ecosystem services accounting and valuation
  • Strengthening professionalism in forest service

These strategies will be harmonized with efforts on economic boosting, global competitiveness of forest-based solutions, and sustainable production of renewable resources.

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.

Call for support

  • Spreading awareness: Want to support the SFM campaign? You can do so by spreading awareness on the importance of our forests. These natural treasures provide us with the resources that we need such as water, air, food, and timber. Ensuring the survival of our forests ultimately ensures the survival of all life. Your role is crucial and spreading this reminder at home, school, work and in communities is already an important step you can take.
  • Go online: Social media is a powerful advocacy tool. Support forest conservation and the SFM by posting your own or sharing our posts about SFM on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget to tag us and use hashtags such as #PassSFM and #PassGreenBills.
  • Join tree planting: Forests play a huge part in the water cycle as they absorb water through their roots, release it from their leaves through transpiration, then turns rainwater together with water evaporated from oceans and other water bodies. Planting more trees not only ensures our water security, but it is also a great legacy we can leave behind for our future generations. Groups such as the Haribon Foundation conduct tree planting activities in restoration sites during rainy seasons (June – December), and everyone — members or volunteers — are welcome to join. Call 421-1209 today!
  • Promote urban parks: Get in touch with your local government to establish and 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.

View and download the complete bill here.

Last updated October 6, 2020