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Philippines develop timber policies

The Philippine government is developing various policies on timber legality aimed at enabling the local furniture exporters comply with the timber demands of their overseas consumer markets, particularly the United States and European Union. Source: Philippine Information Agency

According to a statement from Ricardo Calderon, chief of the Forest Management Bureau (FMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, they are working on the policy that will establish national certification standard using the criteria and indicators developed and tested in the logging areas of Mindanao.

Calderon said this is in line with the ASEAN timber certification scheme being pushed by Malaysia. The Philippines is one of the members of the project.

He said FMB would also undertake a project on the chain of custody of timber with the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) also in Mindanao. This partnership is being funded both by the Philippine government and ITTO.

“(This) will firm up our policy on the legality on the trade of timber,” he noted during the recent membership meeting of the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP).

The CFIP has been asking government to undertake a timber tracking system to ensure chain of custody and legality of sources entering and delivered to wood processing plants. At the same time, the system hopes to discourage cutting of trees in residual and natural forest areas.

CFIP likewise presses urgent government action for a group certification system on the use of legal timber sources as part of the compliance on the European Union’s “due diligence” policy on timber sourcing.

Meanwhile, Calderon said the bureau had already amended the existing DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 99-46 on log imports in consultation with furniture industry players.

This version is now with Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje for action.

The amendments aim to strengthen the Philippine position on the legality issues under the Lacey Act of the US, the due diligence policy of the EU member-states and the illegal logging act of Australia.

These laws prohibit the entry of illegal wood-based products such as lumber, wood-based furniture and handicrafts, and other wood-based manufactured items to these countries.

Calderon said the country is likewise preparing the export policy amending DAO 1998-33 and DAO 91-54 considering the different timber legality policies being required by trading partners.

“This is as far as the certification on the legality of source of the exported finished products by Philippine exporters is concerned,” he said.

Calderon added that environment authorities recognize the urgency of having these policies approved for government to positively respond to the needs of the wood-based sector.