Senator Loren Legarda said that sustainability of the country's forests is ensuring that both present and future generations would benefit from our natural resources.
Legarda, a staunch environmentalist and Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said that the government should develop and adopt a sustainable forest management strategy based on rational allocation of forestland uses and promotion of land use practices that increase productivity and conserve soil, water, and other forestland resources.
"Our forests provide various ecosystem services, the most basic of which is production of food and supply of water. Certainly, we need to manage our forests in a manner that would ensure that these ecosystem services would be sufficiently provided to our people now as well as to the future Filipinos," she explained.
"Aside from the rational allocation of forestland uses, we should protect existing forest resources and conserve biodiversity, rehabilitate or develop denuded areas to expand the forest resource base and promote food production activities," she added.
Legarda has included these proposals in Senate Bill No. 402, the proposed Sustainable Forest Management Act.
This bill seeks to establish a plan for sustainable forest management guided by several principles, principally through community-based forest management (CBFM) and watershed as the basic forestland management unit.
The CBFM strategy is providing access rights and responsibilities to forest resident families, local communities, and indigenous peoples to undertake the management of appropriate forestland resources on a sustainable basis.
Meanwhile, forestlands should be conserved, developed and managed, utilizing watersheds as the basic management unit and under the concepts of sustainable and multiple-use management, including biodiversity conservation.
Other strategies include multi-sectoral participation in sustainable forestland conservation, management and development; protection of forestlands and natural resources as priority concern in order to ensure environmental stability, enhance biological diversity, increase productivity, and provide economic benefits; economic and ecological reforestation to rehabilitate denuded and degraded forestlands; security of tenure of stakeholders and equitable access to forest resources; and professionalism in forest service.
"We must ensure that our forests meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs. We can only do so if we manage our forests sustainably," Legarda concluded.