Key forestry stakeholders gather for ShareCom For Asia inaugural forum
The Interdisciplinary Studies Center on Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management (INREM) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), in partnership with Forest Foundation Philippines, organized the inaugural forum of the “Sharing Lessons, Advancing Collective Action in Community Forestry For Asia” (ShareCom For Asia) on 15 September 2021. Around 250 participants from the academe, non-government organizations, funding institutions, private sector and other key forestry sectors attended the virtual event.
To open the forum, UPLB Chancellor Dr. Jose V. Camacho, reiterated the importance of future-proofing forest resources by mobilizing and empowering upland communities. On behalf of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, For. Marcial C. Amaro, Jr., Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning and Foreign Assisted and Special Projects and Director of DENR-Forest Management Bureau (FMB) in concurrent capacity, remarked in his opening speech the vital role of community forestry stakeholders in protecting the uplands and ensuring sustainable use of resources.
The ‘Sharing and Learning’ part of the forum featured forestry sector experts who shared their experiences in advancing the welfare of upland communities in Asia. The event’s inaugural speaker, Dr. Doris Capistrano, Senior Fellow at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), emphasized the timeliness of the establishment of the ShareCom For Asia initiative especially with the growing importance of social forestry and the increasing role of ASEAN Member States to prioritize and support the region’s rural landscapes. Seven guest speakers also discussed their organization’s key initiatives and contribution to social forestry: Dr. Juan M. Pulhin, Professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños; Ms. Bharati Pathak, Chairperson of the Federation of community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN); Dr. David Ganz, Executive Director of RECOFTC; Dr. Delia Catacutan, Principal Scientist at ICRAF-CIFOR; Dr. Takeshi Ueda, Principal Natural Resources and Agriculture Economist and Mr. Thierry Liabastre, Senior Natural Resources & Agriculture Specialist at the Asian Development Bank (ADB); and Mr. Mohammad Sidiq, Strategic Area Manager for Sustainable Forest Management and Coordinator for Papua and West Papua Provinces at GIZ Indonesia.
The second part of the forum on Advancing Collective Action saw the turning over of the Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) Program project database, a collection of CBFM map atlas and shape files, to DENR-FMB as part of UPLB’s commitment to contribute to science-based decision-making and policymaking, especially in subsequent monitoring and evaluation of CBFM impacts nationwide. The ShareCom For Asia website (sharecom.uplb.edu.ph) was also launched, with Dr. Rose Jane J. Peras, Chair of the Department of Social Forestry and Forest Governance (DSFFG) of UPLB College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR), presenting the key features and contents of the online platform envisioned to be the main repository of relevant materials on community forestry in Asia and event documents of future ShareCom For Asia dialogues. To end, Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, Program Head of the Research and Thought Leadership Department of SEARCA, noted the important messages from the presentations and discussion, where he underscored critical factors to ensure the success of community forestry in Southeast Asia, namely: strong and transparent governance, continuous capacity-building initiatives, development of social enterprises and improved organizational mandates to better support forest communities.
ShareCom For Asia, with its vision to become a regular platform to share experiences and strategies on how to effectively implement community forestry on the ground, is a regional initiative organized by social forestry champions, with the steering committee headed by Dr. Juan M. Pulhin. Its subsequent dialogues and fora aim to tap opportunities for collaboration and sharing of information and best practices across Southeast Asia.