The Bicol Region is endowed with rich natural resources such as forest resources of dipterocarp, mangrove and mossy forest. The regionís forest-based industries have been a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through export of logs and lumber. However, logging, saw milling and wood processing had been stopped due to lack of wood resources to support the industries. This was the result of forest depletion caused by unsustainable utilization and management of the regionís forest resources.
The programs and projects were directed towards restoring forest cover for its protective values. The region still yearns for its wood requirement for domestic and infrastructures needs that need to be addressed to alleviate pressure on the remaining forest and satisfy the needed wood and non-wood based industries. Minor forest products such as rattan, nipa, anahaw, buri, firewood, charcoal, resins and other vines are still available in the region which could be developed for possible processing and manufacturing of non-wood based industries.
The forestry plan is based on the premise that if the utilization and productivity of the forest will be regained, the demand for forest resources and commodities will be adequately satisfied which could result to augmentation of income of upland farmers and higher value-added for forest products. The sustainable supply of forest products can stimulate the growth of ancillary industries involved in wood and non-wood processing and manufacturing.
The region has not attained the ideal ratio between alienable and disposable (A&D) lands to its forestlands. The regionís alienable and disposable lands cover a total area of 1,222,060 hectares (69.3 percent); classified forestland cover about 511,316 hectares (29 percent); and 29,873 hectares are unclassified forestland (1.7 percent). Hence, the regionís ratio is 69:29 ratio compared to the ideal ratio of 60:40.
There are 156,476 hectares of forested areas of which 50,618 hectares (32.38 percent) are classified as closed forest or old growth forest; 90,284 hectares (57.67 percent) are open forest or residual forest; 13,499 hectares (8.62 percent) are mangrove and 2,075 hectares (1.3 percent) are plantation forest. The regionís forest cover is only 2.18 percent of the Philippines total forest cover.
The current forest legislation allows logging only in areas where there is sufficient forest vegetation. In the case of Bicol Region, there are only about 156,476 hectares of forest cover or 8.63 percent of forest to its total land area; hence, the total log ban was implemented. The forest-based industries continue to decline due to the implementation of the log ban since 1983. All wood processing plants and sawmills totally stopped their operations due to absence of adequate wood supply for their operations.
The timber products consumption of the region is estimated at 120,000 cubic meters with an average wood consumption of 0.25 cubic meters per capita. It is assumed that the timber supply comes from the other regions or from the remaining forests of the region. Without massive reforestation, the timber requirements will not be met and will put more pressure on the small forest cover.
The production forest plantation program which aims to produce the timber needs of Bicolanos will save the death of the logging industry in the Bicol Region. However, only one percent of the total forest cover had been registered as plantation forest. Only the provinces of Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur reflected data on forest plantation of 2,075 hectares, while other provinces have not provided plantation forest boundaries. The insignificant quantity of timber production in private lands is inadequate to meet the growing demand of wood in the region. This resulted to the use of alternative supply of wood like coconut, bamboo and anahaw lumber which is commonly practiced as a substitute to timber.
The revival of the wood and non-wood processing, rattan and bamboo industries will stimulate handicrafts and furniture manufacturing which will provide employment opportunities. However, this must be supported by the sustainable supply of forest products to meet the
requirement of the wood and non-wood based industries.
The main objective of the forestry sector is to provide continuous supply of forest-based raw materials and develop the non-wood and wood-based industries as a means to uplift the economic conditions of the Bicolanos.
Specifically, it aims to:
Provide equitable access to forest resources and utilization on a sustainable basis to meet the needs for forest based commodities and services.
Provide adequate supply of raw materials for non-wood and wood-based industries.
Promote processing of wood-based products that are efficient, competitive and profitable.
Establish specific limits of forestlands. Forestlands will be categorized into production and protection (national parks and watersheds) forest for sustainable development, management and conservation within the framework of watershed-based integrated forest management. Continue the delineation of forest boundaries and complete demarcation of forest line on the ground.
Identify and allocate forestlands appropriate for the establishment of industrial tree plantations that would make the region self-sufficient in timber and do away with importation. There must be enough tree plantations and other minor forest plantations sufficient to supply the raw material base. The requirement of the wood industry for timber resources would exert pressure on the remaining forest. There must be extensive establishment of fast-growing forest plantations to produce timber ahead of the anticipated consumption of the wood-based industry. Likewise, the identification of new areas for biofuel plantations in support to fuel requirements of the region will be pursued.
Nurseries for seedling production will be established in different provinces to supply the needed tree species suitable for industrial tree plantations both for timber and biofuel.
Incentives should be provided by the local government units in the form of tax holidays on lands planted with forest tree plantations to encourage private land owners to invest on forest plantation development. Technical support and seedlings should be provided to
private land owners specifically on the technology for tree farm plantation.
The plantation of these minor forest products (vines, resins, nipa shingles, rattan) should be developed and encouraged to sustain the requirement of the non-wood based industries and manufacturers. This will develop the cottage industries that are dependent on these minor forest products and augment the income of the upland farmers. Private land owners should be encouraged to establish rattan and other minor forest plantations in their private lands.
Simplify the process of issuing permits for harvesting of forest and minor forest products while ensuring strict compliance to the regulations on the utilization and harvesting of forest and minor forest products.
Bamboo plantations should be established in alienable and disposable lands, forestlands and along riverbanks. Encourage private land owners to plant bamboo through the provision of technology and packaging of industries that could be developed out of the bamboo
resources. The use of bamboo as a raw material for furniture and fixtures in the towns of Baao, Bula and Nabua, Camarines Sur shall be replicated in other areas.
The use of alternative supply of wood like bamboo, coconut, and anahaw lumber should be encouraged. Bamboo and coco lumber had been accepted as a good substitute for wood in the construction industry. However, the constant use of coco lumber as a substitute to lumber and the current effects of typhoon Reming resulted to the massive cutting of coconut trees. This depletes the coconut plantations in the region faster than the replanting activity. Massive replanting and immediate replacement of old coconut trees should be undertaken in support to the coconut industries and their by-products.
Implement agro-forestry and other conservation measures in upland farming. Encourage upland farmers to develop and improve the productivity of upland areas through the provision of adequate agricultural support and entrepreneurial skills and trainings that are necessary to improve their skills.
Create an investment climate that would attract local and foreign capital in the rehabilitation, development and management of forest and biodiversity for various products and services, including ecotourism.
Develop the non-wood and wood-based industries by providing financial assistance at reasonable terms. Trainings and seminars should be conducted and technical assistance provided for the introduction of new technologies for non-wood and wood based industries.
Strengthen research and development for the identification of new forest tree species that are suitable to the areas of the provinces. Research should be conducted on the development of possible technology and by-products for the region's forest and biodiversity resources.
Develop a sustained awareness (IEC) program for the people on environmental values of forest land and its sustained productivity. Organize the communities within the immediate vicinities of the forestlands for their participation on forest protection and law enforcement.
Search for measures to resolve the logging ban issues in the region.
Major Programs and Projects
Reforestation Program. This is an ongoing regionwide project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). It involves: (a) forest plantation establishment in open and denuded forestlands; (b) maintenance and protection of 2-3 year old plantations; (c) protection of untenured forestlands; (d)enforcement of anti-illegal logging measures; (e) strengthening multi-sectoral protection committees; (f) profiling and characterization of watershed areas; and (g) plantation establishment of vegetative measures.
Forest Boundary Delineation. This is an ongoing project of DENR in Camarines Sur which involves the survey of boundary between the forestland and alienable and disposable lands including identification of appropriate land uses.
Bicol River Basin and Watershed Management Project (BRBWMP). This is a proposed project of the DENR which covers Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Albay, traversing 41 municipalities and covering a total drainage area of 317,389 hectares. It is a 6-year development initiative that will pilot a comprehensive program on natural resources management within the context of a river basin --- improvement of watershed resources management within the alienable and disposable and upland areas --- as a way of alleviating poverty and at the same time protecting the natural resources. A coordinated development effort at both upstream and downstream parts of the basin area will be enforced.
There are four components: (a) Institutional Development; (b) Watershed Management and Development (WMD) to ensure that the capacities of the basinís watersheds are sustained in the long-term; (c) Flood Hazard Mitigation; and (d) Irrigation Modernization that will introduce new concepts on irrigation modernization, performance benchmarking, irrigation management transfer, and volumetric pricing.