Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Integrated Forest Management Agreement

by Antonio C. Antonio
December 18, 2013


Tenurial instruments are used by government to allocate portions of public forestlands to qualified and interested individuals, organizations or business entities and bestow upon them the direct management of such public forestlands.  The metamorphosis of forest tenurial instruments went through several stages of development to what is known at present as the Integrated Forest Management Agreement or IFMA.  These stages also come to be known by several names... Integrated Forest Plantation, Industrial Tree Plantation, Industrial Forest Management and Industrial Forest Management Agreements.  There are other tenurial instruments that are in effect at present like the Community-Based Forest Management Agreement, Integrated Social Forestry Agreement, etc.

Historical Background:

Integrated Forest Plantations are tree plantations are established to complement and enhance existing forests in that particular area.  Areas made available for plantation establishment were the open, denuded and inadequately stocked residual forest areas.  In 1975, with the promulgation of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 705 also known as the “Revised Forestry Reform Code”, Industrial Tree Plantations (ITP) was established.  The implementing rules and regulations for PD 705 was Ministry Administrative Order No. 04, series of 1980.  From ITPs, the program was re-named Industrial Forest Management (IFM) under Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 42, series of 1992 and DAO No. 4, series of 1997.  Under the IFM system, planting of non-timber products (like bamboo, rattan and rubber) were included.  Several DAOs (Nos. 91-42, 94-60 and 97-04) were consolidated under DAO No. 99-53 (in 1999) to create the tenurial instrument Industrial Forest Management Agreement which was later re-named Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA).

The Nature of an IFMA:

An Integrated Forest Management Agreement entered into by and between a qualified applicant and the Philippine Government represented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).  The qualified applicant can be any individual, group, association or business entity (corporations, partnerships and single proprietorships).  I must mention that the applicant must be a Filipino citizen. 

This tenurial instrument is a production sharing agreement wherein the DENR grants the qualified applicant the exclusive right to develop, manage, protect a specific area of forestland and utilize the forest resources in this specific area of forestland.

Forest tenurial instruments are highly regulatory.  But in spite of this there are 145 active IFMAs covering an area of 1,077,655 hectares of public lands throughout the country.

IFMAs are long-term tenurial instruments that have a lifespan of 25 years and are renewable for another 25 years.  Possession or award of an IFMA is just an agreement that embodies the relationship between the DENR and the IFMA Holder.  It is by no means a permit to manage and utilize the forest and forest resources.  Operationalizing an IFMA is by way of an approved Comprehensive Development and Management Plan (CDMP) as mandated by DAO No. 99-53.  The CDMP is a highly technical management plan detailing every facet and stage of forest management that is expected of the IFMA Holder.  The CDMP focuses on sustainable forest management.

The Objectives of an IFMA:  (Source:  DENR’s Primer on Integrated Forest Management)

1.     Attain a balanced, productive, and efficiently functioning forest ecosystem thru the sustainable management of forest and the rehabilitation of degraded forestlands;
2.     Ensure continuous supply of wood and non-wood products by encouraging all sectors to engage in the development of Industrial Forest Plantations; and,
3.     Improve the economic well-being of upland people and communities dependent on forest resources by ensuring equitable access to forest resources.

The Areas Available for IFMA:  (Source:  DENR’s Primer on Integrated Forest Management)

1.     Open and denuded lands, brushlands, degraded residual natural forest;
2.     Areas covered by cancelled/expired Forest Land Grazing Agreement or pasture permits or leases;
3.     Government reforestation projects or portions thereof to be more suitable as IFP;
4.     Production residual natural forest that may be best included in the aforementioned area; and,
5.     Areas under cancelled and expired TLAs; provided, area under existing TLAs may be allowed for conversion to IFMA.

The Sizes of the Areas Allowed for IFMA:  (Source:  DENR’s Primer on Integrated Forest Management)

1.     Minimum of 500 hectares and the maximum size may depend upon the capability of the applicant to develop and manage to productive condition, but not to exceed 40,000 hectares; and,
2.     For TLA conversion into IFMA, the size of the IFMA area may extend up to the size of the TLA area at the time of conversion.

The Responsibilities of the IFMA Holder:  (Source:  DENR’s Primer on Integrated Forest Management)

1.     Conduct delineation and marking on the ground of the perimeter boundaries of the IFMA including timber inventory at 5% intensity.
2.     Submit Comprehensive Development and Management Plan (CDMP) within one (1) year from the date of approval of the IFMA and an Initial Environment Examination (IEE).
3.     Submit to the FMB within one (1) year from date of award of the IFMA and every five (5) years thereafter, up-to-date aerial photos or landsat imageries including interpretation map covering the entire IFMA area which can be waived if there is no natural forest and the area regardless of vegetative cover is less than 5,000 hectares.
4.     Implement the mitigation/enhancement measures in the IEE and comply with ECC conditions.
5.     Plant timber species but not excluding rubber, durian, rattan and bamboo.
6.     Limit planting of agricultural crops to 10% of the IFMA area.
7.     If included in the CDMP, convert the degraded residual natural forest into productive state, either thru a) enrichment planting, Timber Stand Improvement and assisted natural regeneration; b) establishing plantations of rattan or other suitable non-timber species; and/or c) clearing of natural vegetative and establishing IFP.
8.     Manage and protect production residual forest and if authorized in the approved CDMP harvest and utilize naturally grown trees on a sustainable basis.
9.     No timber harvesting within old growth or protection forest such as those areas with more than 50% slope and 20 meters on both sides of rivers and streams.
10.  Reforest open/denuded lands found within areas classified as protection forestlands and within 20 meters strips from both sides of river banks.
11.  Protect and conserve unique, rare and endangered flora and fauna.
12.  Construct permanent structure and roads within the IFMA area only in accordance with approves CDMP and Operations Plan (OP).
13.  Employ as many experienced registered foresters as may be required.
14.  Submit Annual Accomplishment Reports.

The Responsibilities of the DENR:  (Source:  DENR’s Primer on Integrated Forest Management)

1.     Ensure that all prescribed requirements are strictly complied with;
2.     Make available to IFMA Holders all information it possesses on the area;
3.     Assist the IFMA Holder and host communities in the development and execution of mutually beneficial agreements.
4.     Not after or modify the boundaries or legal status of any IFMA area, once established, settle boundary conflicts; and,
5.     Promote and/or approve joint venture, financing and/or securitization schemes.

The Incentives for the IFMA Holder:  (Source:  DENR’s Primer on Integrated Forest Management)

1.     May interplant secondary crops between trees within areas designated for IFP.
2.     All trees and other crops established pursuant to the IFMA belong to the IFMA Holder who shall have the right to harvest, sell and utilize such trees and crops.
3.     Allow the IFMA Holder without restriction to export logs, lumber and forest products derived from IFMA area; provided that logs harvested from naturally growing trees (not planted) in the IFMA area and the lumber manufactures from such logs will not be exported.
4.     All plantation products derived from an IFMA area shall be exempted from forest charges; provided, that logs from trees growing naturally (not planted) and other forest products naturally growing in the IFMA as well as logs from trees planted in compliance with TLA reforestation obligations of TLAs shall be subject to forest charges stipulated in RA 7161.
5.     Entitlement to all relevant incentives provided for under the Omnibus Investment Code and to all applicable incentives enumerated under Section 36 of PD 705, as amended.
6.     Transfer developed plantations that are at least three (3) years old to a cooperative upon fair compensation or payment thereof by the cooperative itself or through a financing institution or open up public investment.
7.     Use stable plantation crops that are at least three (3) years old as collateral or security for loans offered by the government development banks, financial institutions, or government-owned and controlled corporations.
8.     IFMA Holders who has satisfactorily complied with the terms and conditions of the IFMA may be allowed an additional area to be existing area or a new IFMA but not to exceed 40,000 hectares.

The Present Status of the IFMAs:

In February 1, 2011, Executive Order No. 23 was promulgated.  EO 23 provides as it is entitled: “Declaring a Moratorium on the Cutting and Harvesting of Timber in the Natural and Residual Forests and Creating the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force”.  Although the EO was a dismal failure in curbing illegal logging activities, it was, however, successful in de-operationalizing all IFMAs.

After one and a half years of moratorium, most of the IFMA Holders bonded themselves in an organization called Integrated Forest Management Association of the Philippines (IFMAP) to make representations to government through the DENR on the following issues:

·         The continuous illegal logging activities that have expended to IFMA areas;
·         The absence of safety nets to protect the interest of the IFMA Holders, their employees and allied downstream businesses and the upland communities benefitting from IFMA system;
·         The non-issuance of an IRR for EO 23;
·         Possible financial assistance as most IFMA Holders are now experiencing liquidity problems; and,
·         Other related matters pertaining to the tenurial instrument (IFMA).

In response to the issues raised by the IFMAP, the DENR-Forest Management Bureau (DENR-FMB) signified interest to assist in facilitating plantation establishment loans from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).   The proposal was for IFMA Holders to concentrate on reforestation and tree planting activities while the moratorium is still in effect.  IFMAP has had three meetings this year with the DBP on the invitation of the DENR-FMB.  The DBP, on the other hand, has expressed willingness to also assist IFMAP members by way of soft loans for plantation establishment.  A fourth meeting is scheduled in January 2014.

Just my little thoughts…

(Note:  As of May 2014, the DENR-FMB has not called for another meeting on DBP soft loans for plantation establishment for IFMA Holders.)


·         Course Gui

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