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For future use: Tree farmers in Palawan ask DENR to issue proof of ownership

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Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) associations in Palawan are asking the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to issue certificates for the trees they planted for proof and validation so they could harvest them in the future.

Nida Collado, federation president of all CBFM associations in Palawan, said Friday that they also requested the DENR to provide directions for the use of agro-forestry products outside timberland areas to benefit tree farmers.

Collado said they have aired this concern in a recent congressional hearing on the National Greening Program (NGP) conducted by Tarlac Rep. Noel Villanueva, chairman of the committee on reforestation.

“We informed the hearing about certain issues that affect the CBFM associations in Palawan because we want them to be ironed out and we also want to be guided. There should be policies or directions in the utilization of agro-forestry products, including an income sharing scheme among the associations,” she said.

On the issuance of certificates of ownership of planted trees under the CBFM, Collado said their concern isthat without the certificates, the issuance of permits to harvest their trees might suffer delays and would take time.
“Certificates should be issued to us, (to prove) that we are the owners of the harvestable trees when we already want to utilize them. We hope that the local environment and natural resources office will also not give us a hard time since they are outside the timberland areas,” she said.

The directions for the use or sharing of the agro-forestry products are very important to the CBFM associations to avoid being accused of illegal logging.

Josephine dela Cruz, the provincial federation vice president of the CBFM associations, also said people in interior villages who are implementing tree farming projects will be further motivated if there is a transparent sharing scheme agreement in the agro-forestry component of the NGP.

This component includes the planting of fruit trees, harvestable timber species, and other agricultural crops.
She said that one of the concerns that they additionally raised in the hearing was the inclusion of the livelihood component or alternative livelihood for upland residents as part of the package of the project since they are very poor.

Although funds are available to CBFM associations for wages, gathering of wildlings, potting and bagging, care and maintenance before transplanting, there is still a need for alternative livelihood as poverty is very prevalent among farmers, she said.

“We are also pushing for additional livelihood for tree farmers and other people who manage the NGP sites,” she added.

They are also pushing for the issuance of tenurial instruments to areas being covered by the NGP.
Dela Cruz added that there is also a need to extend the duration of growing of trees under the NGP from three to five years.

“Three years are not enough for the care and maintenance of the tree farms and plantations,” she said, adding this way, the trees would grow more to ideal lengths and sizes. (PNA)