Monday, February 28, 2011

Furniture makers push reforestation, not log ban

Furniture makers push reforestation, not log banBy Mia Aznar
Sun.Star Cebu
February 28, 2011

INSTEAD of imposing a total ban on logging, the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation (CFIF) Inc., would rather see the government strengthen its partnership with the private sector in reforestation efforts.

In a position paper dated Feb. 17, CFIF president Angela Figueroa-Paulin, said that while the objectives of Executive Order 23 (EO 23) are “relevant,” they believe the strategy adopted to address deforestation and flooding are “flawed.”

EO 23 is a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests. It also ordered the creation of the anti-illegal logging task force.

The group said that the ban would be prone to abuse and would, instead, restrict industries that are contributing “significantly” to the Philippine economy.

They believe it would worsen the smuggling of wood and lumber products, noting the limited resources of the government to enforce it and corruption of some officers in authority.

Paulin said a log ban would make industries more dependent on imported wood and lumber, which would drive up production costs of furniture and other wood-based products. She feared this would make Philippine exports even less competitive.

The furniture industry has been hit hard with the global economic crisis after clients in the US and Europe cut back on expenses.

Paulin said a log ban would discourage investments in forest management ventures and make the country lose opportunities in terms of having more reforested areas and employment.

“Government should look at countries that are both successful in reforestation efforts and in their wood exports, before imposing a logging ban,” the position paper read.

Paulin also pointed out that there are Filipino families who derive their income from community-based forest management agreements (CBFMAs), socialized industrial forest management agreements (SIFMAs) and integrated forest management agreements (IFMAs). She said that in 2008 alone, 321,638 households depended on income from 1,783 CBFMAs that covered more than 1.6 hectares of forest lands and public domain lands in the country.

The organization also noted that a log ban was imposed during the term of former president Corazon Aquino and that it did not improve the country’s forest cover.

Paulin pointed out that the country has enough laws on forest management and the protection of natural resources. She said all that is needed is for these laws to be enforced properly without resorting to a log ban.

While they oppose the imposition of the log ban, the organization agrees with the government regarding the need to establish a forest certification system that complies with international standards.

“This is, in fact, what we have been hoping (for) since it would enable us to gain access to markets in Europe and strengthen our foothold on the United States, Japan, Australia and other markets,” the position paper stated.

CFIF assured that the furniture, furnishings manufacturers and exporters, which are the biggest users of wood and wood products, will comply with such a certification system.

“Contrary to the old image of the industry as a big contributor to the denudation of the country’s forests, we have been helping the government’s efforts to reforest public lands. Every year, in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress, our members plant indigenous tree species in the Central Cebu protected landscape, which is covered by the Nipas Act,” it further said.

The group explained they do this because of their belief in sustainable growth for their industry, not for the public relations.