April 30, 2022
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is mapping an accreditation system for People’s Organizations (PO) to become certified “good forest stewards” under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) especially as POs desire to export their forest products.
POs are now planned to be accredited by DENR even as Philippines hopes to pursue industrialization that will require excellent management of natural resources.
“PO accreditation is an important mechanism to transform POs into exemplary resource managers. POs are considered as ‘de facto’ managers, a partner rather than a contractor,” according to DENR Assistant Secretary Marcial C. Amaro.
Amaro said there is a need to revisit the draft Department administrative Order on PO accreditation in order to put this policy in place.
“(We need) to conduct a national consultative meeting for possible institutionalization of PO accreditation with concerned CBFM (Community Based Forest Management) personnel by the fourth quarter of 2022,” he said.
The PO accreditation will have a significant role in providing a sustainable livelihood for upland residents in order to discourage them from illegal logging and illegal wildlife hunting. The accreditation system was piloted as under DENR’s project Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP).
“The pervasive problems of poverty and landlessness have driven people to using public lands. Inevitably, POs have become important players in the management of public land—timberland and multiple-use zones in protected areas,” said Dr. Manuel L. Bonita, DENR INREMP consultant.
The accreditation under FSC standards will enable POs to have easier access to export markets that look for international forest management certification.
Some 20 POs operating in nine provinces in four regions have already been accredited through the piloted accreditation program in 2019-2021 of INREMP. Having gained the trust of INREMP, the POs were allowed to enjoy substantial cash advances as an intervention to natural resources management.
This allowed INREMP to accelerate lagging disbursement of the project’s fund.
”In the future, forest products chain-of-custody must be added to the PO Accreditation System. This facilitates regulation of forest product harvesting and inhibit corrupt practices,” said Bonita at an INREMP Exit Conference last April 21.
DENR wants to sustain the accreditation program even after the closure of INREMP which is now on-going until June 2022.
POs are beneficiaries of DENR’s forest management contracts — Community Based Forest Management Program (CBFMP) and National Greening Program (NGP). The success of CBFMP and NGP depends on the transformation of POs into certified resource managers.
Being an accredited resource manager, one should abide by the Principles, Criteria, and Indicators (PCI) of good forest stewardship.
A PO applying for accreditation goes through an initial assessment and a series of annual assessments.
“An exemplary PO should not slide backward into an irresponsible resource manager,” said Bonita.
PO certification can be a testing ground for forest certification and “ultimately as an alternative or precursor to forest certification” (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)