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close this bookWood energy planning, policies and strategies (GCP/RAS/154/NET) (1998)
close this folder5. Session 3: Issues for strengthening wood energy programme
View the document(introduction...)
View the document5.1 Responses of the resource speakers
View the document5.2 Open forum
View the document5.3 Group discussions


This session focused on the proposed wood energy development activities to be undertaken by the Philippines for the next five years. Mr. Francisco Largo and Ms. Elizabeth M. Remedio acted as moderator and rapporteur respectively. The key points raised in the presentation are summarized here:

a. Proposed Activities in Wood Energy Development in the Philippines by Ms. Ma. Eloida C. Balamiento of the DOE-NCED.

The presentation focused on the proposed activities for advancing the development of wood energy in the Philippines for the next five years. It was divided into three parts: (1) the institutional aspects of wood energy; (2) the experiences and problems in wood energy supply; and (3) the proposed program of activities in the wood energy development programme. It was stressed that a unified approach and stronger linkages among the concerned agencies were necessary to ensure the efficient management of biomass resources.

The formation of the NWEWG, tasked to facilitate the coordination of all technical aspects of wood energy development at the working level and cooperation between all agencies concerned, was formally reported. Likewise the creation of the NAC to review, approve and assess annual work plans and set new directions for the sector.

The presentation discussed the programs and activities identified by the NWEWG and prioritized by NAC for the next five years.

5.1 Responses of the resource speakers

Ms. Remedio agreed that fuelwood trading is one of the major sources of income of the people in Cebu, specifically in the hinterlands. She likewise agreed that there must be a wage structure for fuelwood trading and that the effects of fuelwood use on the health of people should be given appropriate attention.

She emphasized that policies and regulations must be drawn up for fuelwood trading. These rules must not discourage people since fuelwood trading is an important income generating activity.

Mr. Sibucao agreed with the suggestion to include tobacco flue curing and sugar/rice mills in the business establishment surveys in order to obtain more precise data/information.

Ms. Arriola agreed that the costs of transport should be factored into the analyses of fuelwood supply systems.

Mr. Quintana mentioned that there is a need for DENR to look at the possibility of formulating a policy that would allow the adoption of the so-called “limited production forest” concept within the critical/protected areas.

He agreed with the comment that the excess of supply in one area cannot always meet a deficit in some other area. He suggested that those responsible for formulating the respective regional forestry master plans should take this comment into consideration.

The RTDs for Forestry are requested to come up with the most appropriate scheme to utilize dead standing trees.

Ms. Buen said that it is the policy of the DENR not to issue contracts for reforestation anymore. DENR is now issuing CFMAs to those people within or near forest areas. The areas which are covered by the contract reforestation scheme during the previous years are now being covered by the forest land management agreement which gives the communities priority in utilizing or harvesting the planted species.

The efforts of the people of Banacon island to rehabilitate the island’s mangrove areas were lauded. However, DENR cannot grant their request to harvest the trees they have planted because of RA 7161 which stipulates that the cutting of mangrove trees, even in plantation areas, is banned.

Given the variety of data and information on fuelwood from different agencies, Mr. Quejas opined that perhaps the newly created NWEWG could serve as the vehicle for verifying and reconciling these data.

The ABET Programme concept is a mechanism to maximize meaningful participation of the community. One of the concrete results of the recent ABET workshop held in Mountain Province is an initiative from one of the participating municipalities to further involve the barangay captains in the programme.

One of the steps that the NCED has taken to institutionalize the area-based planning approach is the involvement of government, private and non-governmental groups in the activities of the non-conventional energy sector. It is through these institutions that the NCED hopes to achieve the integrated and coordinated participation of all relevant sectors.

5.2 Open forum

During the open forum, the following issues were raised:

a. Dr. Hulscher observed that some data in the 1989 ESMAP study were subjected to “trending” (e.g. percentage and kind of fuel being used by the people, etc.). He also asked how the study had been managed and if the reported percentage consumption of different fuel sources represented the whole country. It was clarified by the presenter that what was presented were purely the results of the 1989 survey. However some clarifications were made on the methodology used.

b. Ms. Ybañez of the CVRP-Cebu likewise requested some clarifications on the reasons for resource stress in certain areas as well as on the indicators used to identify resource stress. It was clarified that what was presented was just an overview of the existing situation among different regions and it was based in terms of percentage yield of available resources versus actual requirement and supply.

c. Mr. Muñez of the NFDO noted some inconsistency between the reports of Ms. Fernandez and Mr. Sibucao. His observations centered on the causes of shortage, the parts and amount of the wood being harvested from the forest, the wastes from logging and saw mills and the other sources of wood. It was clarified that the 1989 ESMAP Study stressed that woodfuel sources for household consumption were not considered to be a major contributing factor to forest denudation. Moreover, it was emphasized that the inclusion of tree roots and stumps is not indicative of the non-sustainability of fuelwood resources. It was clarified that these tree roots and stumps belong under one category which also includes stems, branches and twigs.

d. Dr. Rosacia inquired about the sampling of households in the ESMAP study. It was explained that it was the NSO which identified the areas and number of samples to be surveyed. It was the budget however which ultimately determined the actual sampling methodology used. The NSO nevertheless observes a certain respondent to household ratio. For the present Energy Demand Survey, NSO uses a 1:400 ratio for rural areas and 1:200 for urban areas. Selection of respondents is then done through random sampling. In the processing of data, computer programs are used to summarize the results.

e. Having been involved before in the ESMAP Study, Mr. Heruela clarified that the study is actually composed of three components. The first is a nationwide household energy consumption survey conducted by the NSO. The second component involves the study of fuelwood supply systems for urban areas which basically aims to look at how wood fuel demand in urban areas is affecting its surrounding communities. The third part looks at the utilization and conservation possibilities in the household sector by investigating the consumption and use of electricity in the said sector.

On the issue of supply sustainability, he clarified that primary data gathering was not done to estimate supply data but came from FMB forestry statistics. It still did not account for wood resources coming from agricultural areas which the Philippines still does not have much information on. A recommendation of this study was to do more detailed studies at the local level. Hence the Cebu Study was done to better understand the wood energy system at this level. But due to budget limitations, the study was not able to get primary data on supply, particularly from agricultural lands. The study also revealed that branches and twigs are mostly being used by households.

f. A participant commented that it is not critical to have completely accurate data to come up with appropriate conclusions and recommendations. His opinion was that appropriate policies can be formulated using the available wood energy data.

g. Director Acosta of DENR observed that the hypothesis that we are running out of fuelwood is not correct. His opined that the country actually has an oversupply of fuelwood only it was not in the right places. He added that if we look at woodfuel at the macro level we have a sufficient supply, a supply it should be noted, which does not come from forests alone but also from non-forest areas. At present fuelwood is undervalued in the market. The fact that there is not much financial incentive may be one of the reasons why people are not so keen to engage in fuelwood businesses.

h. On the question why the tobacco industry was not included in the Fuelwood Consumption Survey of Business Establishments, Mr. Heruela explained that what is being referred to as the tobacco industry are those establishments which manufacture cigars and cigarettes and this does not include those engaged in tobacco curing. He said that since the survey uses the NEDA classification system, tobacco curing falls under the agricultural, not the industrial sector.

i. On the recommendation to revise the current harvest and transport permit system, Mr. Montejo explained that at present there is a move towards the deregulation of cutting trees inside private lands. This is covered under the DENR Executive Order #86, as amended, stating that all trees planted inside private lands can be cut and transported without permit except those belonging to the premium species.

j. Mr. Montejo also commented on the statement that woodfuel gathering does not contribute to deforestation. He observed that in some areas, especially in the hinterlands, people are more interested in cutting trees than in planting them. He thus suggested that statements expressing that woodfuel gathering does not contribute to deforestation should identify the areas this statement refers to.

k. Ms. Remedio clarified that a transport permit is required before wood can be transported. Also, people are only allowed to cut trees on privately owned land. She noted that there is indiscriminate cutting of trees in public lands which affects fuelwood pricing. It was determined that if people do not own the land they are not investing anything in it thus they can sell fuelwood at a low price. The resulting price therefore does not truly reflect the real price of the wood. On the other hand, the economic benefits of woodfuel are far reaching. It was observed that rural households consider fuelwood cutting and trading a significant source of income.

l. The statement “leaving the trading network alone” caused varied reactions. The statement, it was clarified, does not mean that we should not have guidelines and policies. These policies and regulations however must not discourage people but rather encourage them to further develop the trading system.

m. Dr. Foronda asked for clarification regarding Ms. Remedio’s statement about income being the greatest determinant of woodfuel utilization. He also sought clarification regarding the meaning of “village woodland” as presented by Ms. Arriola. Ms. Remedio explained that income is considered the greatest determining factor in the residential sector because as income increases there is a tendency to shift from fuelwood to other sources such as kerosene or LPG. Ms. Arriola explained that village woodland refers to trees in agricultural areas with mixed and extensive farming, trees outside the forests and trees used as boundaries in agricultural areas.

n. Mr. Porio, a local trader and wood cutter, elaborated on his experiences related to the transport of fuelwood. He related that several checkpoints on the way to Cebu City stopped them and asked for a transport permit. He also related that at times these checkpoints asked for money before allowing them to proceed. However, a participant suggested that wood traders and cutters should inform the DENR at least a week in advance to give them time to prepare the necessary transport permits they need. He also explained that officials in the said municipalities cannot be blamed because some of the functions of the DENR have been devolved to local government units. However, he emphasized that DENR still has the sole authority to give transport permits.

o. In response to Mr. Muñez comments on poverty alleviation, Dr. Rosacia pointed out the complexity of wood energy utilization. Considering the numerous issues involved, this subject cannot be tackled in just one sitting. Citing the interplay of concerns for economic growth, environmental protection and the utilization and production of woodfuels, he emphasized the need for trade-offs if these issues are to be addressed effectively and realistically.

p. Regarding the concerns about organizational setups and institutional structures, Mr. Heruela saw an undue emphasis on structures which channel programs and policies from a bureaucracy to the eventual recipients “on the ground”. He cited the need for a balance between top-down planning and the inclusion of feedback from the bottom-up. In instances where people are able to respond positively to stresses in their environment, there is a need for the people at the top to support and enhance these responses.

Regarding data organization and planning, he observed the minimal inclusion in energy supply mix statistics of data on the contribution of wood and biomass resources. Proper inclusion of these data would highlight their contribution and may dwarf the contribution of conventional energy sources. Regarding policies and strategies on wood energy production, he cited the need for sharing the information and experiences with relevant agencies in order to fine tune policies and improve implementation. Regarding woodfuel flows and trading, he addressed the issue of government involvement, stressing the significance of the use of woodfuels in the household and industrial sectors and the need to investigate utilization technologies such as improved cookstoves. The issue of the prospect of increased utilization in the modern sector with the use of new technologies was also addressed relative to their use in traditional activities. There is, it was stated, a need for strategies to strike a balance between the two.

He likewise underscored the need for top-level decision makers to be fully aware of wood energy issues in order to enable them to grasp their significance and make informed decisions. The minimal attention given to woodfuel activities is also indicated by the non-inclusion of these and similar activities in GNP and GDP. This was attributed to the fact that compared to the other fuel providers such as oil companies, these producers and users are small and have no political voice.

q. Mr. Montejo commented on the fact that there are many potential investors willing to reforest A&D lands through fuelwood plantations. However, these investors are wary of the fact that planting beyond five hectares may subject them to the provisions of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. Ms. Ybañez allayed his fears by citing the passage of a law exempting fuelwood plantation lands from CARP. This law is now well-known even by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) which is in-charge of implementing CARP.

r. Dr. Foronda also commented on the need for a clear cut identification of database variables and for clear and intensive data-sharing among concerned agencies.

5.3 Group discussions

Three topics were tackled by the participants during the workshop. These were:

· Policy Actions
· Enhancing Wood Energy Database and Planning Capabilities
· Strengthening Organizational Structures

The participants were divided into national and local level groupings. Each group worked on the three topics above. The results of the workshop were presented by each group in the Plenary Session. The presentation included issues, constraints and recommendations. Aside from the oral summary report, a written report was also submitted by each group (Appendix 4).