The Philippines’ wood industry: Putting the spotlight on industrial tree plantations
THE FUTURE of the wood-based industries depends largely on the success of industrial tree plantations (ITPs). In the Philippines, the wood industry is quite vibrant in Mindanao, especially the CARAGA Region, which is dubbed the “Timber Corridor” of the country. CARAGA is considered the leading producer of timber in the country. It covers 684,503 hectares (ha) of forest lands in Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and Surigao del Norte. During the last 15 years, the extraction of wood from the natural forests has been gradually regulated until it was eventually banned in 2010 due to the indiscriminate illegal logging activities in the uplands. Thus, the local sources of the country’s woodbased industries are now totally dependent on plantation timber. However, the government still allows the importation of logs and lumber from other countries to address domestic wood requirements.
The wood industry requires approximately 2 million (M) cubic meters (m3) based on three-year average consumption (PWPA, 2010), but to date, the country produces only 1.34M m3, of which 740,000 m3 come from commercial plantations in various regions.
Other problems faced by the Philippines’ wood industry include insufficient sources of certified seeds and quality planting materials (falcate and yemane); low field survival rate because of the absence of management intervention after field planting; lack of interventions on the use of wood wastes for other high-value products; and incomplete information on supply and demand for ITPs.
To address these gaps, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of the Department of Science and Technology has come up with strategies that will focus on producing high-quality seeds and planting materials as well as the improvement of the ITP’s variable yield through the Industry Strategic S&T Plans (ISP) on ITP.
The PCAARRD established a research program on ITP covering four major fast-growing tree species: falcate (Paraserianthes falcataria), mangium (Acacia mangium Willd.), bagras (Eucalyptus deglupta Blume), and yemane (Gmelina arborea Roxb.). This program is in collaboration with the University of the Philippines Los Baños-College of Forestry and Natural Resources (UPLB-CFNR), the DOSTForest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI), and the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau-Ecosystems Research and Development Service (ERDB-ERDS), along with the ERDS of CARAGA Region.
The ITP program, titled “Action Program on the Establishment of Commercial Plantations and Efficient Utilization of the Wood Products