Passage of Sustainable Forest Management Act urged

THE Society of Filipino Foresters, Inc. (SFFI) is pushing for the passage of the Sustainable Forest Management Act (SFMA) now pending at the House of Representatives and Senate to prepare for the “new normal” when the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained.

Forester Tommy Valdez, SFFI national council president, said the bill, filed as House Bill No. 106 and in the Senate as Senate Bill No. 284 authored by Senator Pia Cayetano, will usher in forestry under the “new normal” with benefits ranging from water harvesting and supply, livelihood for poverty alleviation, renewable energy generation, climate change adaptation, biodiversity enhancement, and nation-building.

He cited the significance of forestry that supports the wood industry and provides livelihood in the rural and urban areas, forestlands have been providing irrigation for agricultural farms, renewable energy for industries and national development, livelihood for upland communities, laboratories for the academe (focused on natural sciences), gene pool for research and development, carbon sink for the country’s emission, and inputs for forest-dependent industries, among others.

He underscored the importance of proper legislative and executive support to the forestry sector, and technically-sound implementation of Sustainable Forest Management or SFM strategies, for the country to succeed in ensuring both human and environmental security for Filipinos.

Meanwhile, forestry frontliners who belong to at least 10 Peoples’ Organizations (POs) and tree planters benefited from the relief goods distribution activity jointly made by the SFFI and Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Community Environment and Natural Resources Office – Urdaneta City with support from the San Roque Power Corporation SRPC.

“Forestry front-liners are composed mostly of peoples’ organizations who also need help during this COVID-19 pandemic”, Valdez said during their April 28 relief goods distribution.

The country currently has 1,884 peoples’ organizations issued with community-based forest management agreements representing about 25 million inhabitants in the country’s 15.8 million hectares of forestlands.  Most of them have settled in forestlands due to poverty and lack of opportunities available for them in the lowlands and urban areas, Valdez said.

Valdez is also the vice president for corporate social responsibility of the San Roque Power Corporation based in San Manuel, Pangasinan. (PhilStar Wire Service/ECV)

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