100 Philippine Native Forest Trees Planted in Sierra Madres for “Social Forestry in Asia: Challenges & Opportunities” Webinar Participants

3 December 2020, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Laguna. 100 Philippine native forest trees (30 White Lauan, 40 Bani and 30 Palosanto) were planted to thank the attendees, participants, partners and organizers of the “FIRST-EVER UPLB STUDENT INTERNATIONAL WEBINAR PROJECT” entitled, “Social Forestry in Asia: Challenges and Opportunities“, held online on  December 3, 2020, from 1:00 to 4:00 PM (Philippine Standard Time).
The event was organized by the UPLB Graduate students of SFFG (Social Forestry & Forest Governance) 201 – Comparative Social Forestry class of 1st Semester, Academic Year 2020-2021 – under faculty-in-charge, Dr. Juan M. Pulhin, Academician of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST); forester and geographer; UPLB professor and UP Scientist; former dean of the College of Forestry and Natural Resources.

UPLB Chancellor Jose Camacho, Jr., PhD was invited to deliver the welcome remarks, whereby he acknowledged the timeliness of the webinar given the context of current global events: “Should we prioritize man’s need for resources or the preservation of the environment…Why not both?

Dr. Camacho further stressed the role of local communities:  “Indeed, empowering local communities, restoring and conserving the forest, promoting sustainability – precisely the sort of actions and ideas sorely needed by a society plagued by resource scarcity and environmental degradation. Today’s international webinar will feature our international guests and lecturers who will share their experiences on how social forestry is being practiced in their home countries – a valuable perspective to have so that we can compare our best practices.

Dr Pulhin went on to present “Our View on Social Forestry”, in terms of looking at it as a science and academic discipline, and as a policy and practice – with each construct inextricably reinforcing the other. 

For the Philippines, Professor Emeritus Dr. Lucretio L. Rebugio noted: “Social forestry (SF) has been generally accepted as an academic discipline, a policy and practice for forest equity and sustainability through participatory approaches in the Philippines and other countries. As one of the pioneers of SF, the Philippines can show several cases of success stories across the country. But we have not achieved the scale and level of success we ardently desire. The road towards Forest Equity and Sustainability is still replete with formidable barriers. Toppling down these barriers is a Great Challenge but it also offers a Golden Opportunity to strengthen the discipline, policy and practice of SF as a powerful SDG vehicle.”

The full webinar proceedings are available at: https://www.facebook.com/UPLBForestrySociety/posts/3645870928781302

The webinar was open to the public in order to enable the sharing of knowledge and experiences from the invited discussants from Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines – featuring key social forestry practitioners from these countries.

Full Program

1:00-1:05 Welcome Remarks Dr. Jose Camacho, Jr.


University of the Philippines Los Baños

1:05-1:10 Overview of SFFG 201: Comparative Social Forestry Dr. Juan M. Pulhin

Professor and Faculty-in-charge

1:10-1:12 Acknowledgment of Participants Moderator
1:12-1:17 Introduction to Social Forestry in Bhutan Ms. Anne-Marie Mananquil Bakker

PhD Development Studies

1:17-1:22 Introduction to Social Forestry in Cambodia Ms. Rhealyn Senon

MS Forestry

1:22-1:30 Social Forestry Situation in Cambodia


Mr. Chhun Delux

Deputy Chief of Forest Carbon Credits and Climate Change Office, Forestry Administration

1:30-1:35 Introduction to Social Forestry in Indonesia Mr. Aureneil Natividad

MS Forestry

1:35-1:42 Social Forestry Situation in Indonesia


Dr. Ani Adiwinata Nawir

Scientist, CIFOR, Indonesia

1:42-1:47 Introduction to Social Forestry in  Myanmar Ms. Nike Achacoso

PhD Environmental Science

1:47-1:55 Social Forestry Situation in Myanmar


Mr. Myo Min Latt

Assistant Director, Forestry Department, Myanmar

1:55-2:15 Open Forum on Social Forestry in Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia and Myanmar
2:15-2:20 Introduction to Social Forestry in Japan Ms. Ma. Bernadeth Laurelyn Pante

MS Rural Sociology

2:20-2:27 Social Forestry Situation in Japan


Dr. Utako Yamashita

Assistant Professor

Tokyo University of Agriculture

2:27-2:32 Introduction to Social Forestry in South Korea Ms. Louiella Rose Catudio

MS Forestry

2:32-2:40 Social Forestry Situation in South Korea Dr. Kang Kyu-Suk

Professor, Seoul National University

Seoul, Republic of Korea

2:40-2:50 Opportunities and Challenges in Social Forestry in the Philippines Dr. Lucrecio Rebugio

Professor Emeritus

University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB)

2:50-3:00 Social Forestry in Asia Dr. Chandra Silori

Deputy Executive Director


3:00-3:20 Open Forum on Social Forestry in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, Asia
3:20-3:25 Synthesis of the Social Forestry Challenges and Opportunities in Asia
3:25-3:30 Closing Remarks Dr. Rose Jane J. Peras

Professor and Department Chair

Department of Social Forestry and Forest Governance

College of Forestry and Natural Resources

Now more than ever, climate change is exacerbated by a pandemic (of which we expect more) – so, we recognize not only our communities’ central role in rehabilitating and protecting our forests, but also the government and private sector – as forests are a key source of our water, food, energy, medicine and livelihood.

All developments in Social Forestry shared during the webinar were set against the ever ever-extreme impacts of climate change – real and evident in all our lives, observed by the persistent and destructive flooding in Bhutan, Cambodia, Myanmar and Indonesia over the last decade, claiming thousands of lives and damaging millions worth of properties. This is one of THE core challenges that must be resolved by a consolidated and unified approach of all forest stakeholders, as it has direct implications and opportunities for reducing poverty – the world’s #1 Sustainable Development Goal. SDG # 17 – Partnerships – are also equally critical.

These developments are set against this nexus and reality – but hopefully not future – that we must balance appropriate policy with enforcement mechanisms that are respected as they once were in ancient times.

We are clearly well-positioned to recreate a thriving narrative by working hand in hand with our forest and fisheries communities – who in actual fact and practice are managing our lifelines. Fortunately, as the saying goes, every challenge can be converted into an opportunity; a place to change the narrative and turn the tide.

Across all the countries presented (with the extreme exception of Cambodia and Myanmar), the social forestry practice has generated gross increases in timber and non-timber forest products that can be sustainably managed. But in many cases our terrestrial and marine ecosystems remain under-informed and under-capacitated, therefore  under-developed and under-optimized.

Yet, we also face converging and parallel opportunities  to attract partnerships and investments to support the continued growth of social forestry across the region as one driver of poverty alleviation.  Rightfully so, given that across Southeast Asia, 300 million people live in rural areas and up to 70 million rely on forests (ASFN, 2011).

One thing is clear: social, community-based and inclusive forestry practices have thankfully become central features of successful forest management.  We must therefore further evolve with our communities to change the narrative.

Another recurring theme throughout the webinar was the need to go back to our roots, where sustainable forestry/natural resource management took into account our current needs without compromising the future.Remember the saying by one of the pioneers who put social into forestry – Jack Westoby. The challenge to the forestry world is that ‘forestry is not about trees, it is about people. And it is about trees only insofar as trees can serve the needs of people.’ (Westoby, 1967 cited in Leslie, 1987: ix).

The synthesis presented a simplified stakeholder map of Sweden’s sophisticated forests (see image above). They have doubled in size over the last 100 years, with more than 70% of their landscape covered by forest. Surely, Sweden too once struggled as we (Philippines/Asia) are now. Being host to 4 billion of the world’s near 8 billion peoples, and 1/5th of the world’s forests, we (Asia) hold a vital responsibility to protect our forests, forest cultures and assets; as well as ensuring their sustainable role in providing water, food and energy security. After all, the Earth is the only home we know – it is our only center of marine and terrestrial biodiversity.

The SFFG 201 student organizers felt privileged  that this webinar was not and should never be just another exchange, academic or professional requirement; but, rather, a meaningful and impactful contribution to turning the tipping point in Earth’s favor. It is not only for us or for science that we gathered here today, it is to enable us to take climate change action for future generations of social forestry guardians and practitioners too.

So, how did/does Sweden managed to grow its timber industry as well as its forest cover? The simple answer is that Sweden grows more trees than it chops down. Maybe, our answers and solutions in this complex world can also be simple.

In the end, it is neither government, nor large corporations alone, nor private, public or NGO agents that run our ecosystems, it is ALL OF US. For being the beneficiaries of these ecosystems also implies that we are not only its stakeholders but also its guardians.

Thank you especially to our forest guards who planted and will protect these forests (over 9,000 hectares) at the Laguna Quezon Land Grant,  in Laguna managed by UPLB’s Land Grant Management Office team and forest guardians, among others:
1.     Reynaldo E. Lorida 7.     Senando C. Velina
2.     Renato Q. Dagumboy 8.     Armando L. Atip
3.     Leody A. Avenido 9.     Romeo C. Calamucha
4.     Anselmo M. Ella 10.   Albert I. Bagayan
5.     Lauro G. Rizaldo 11.  Bryan C. Bacasen
6.     Deraño G. Alawas

2020 State of the World’s Forests*

“Deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at alarming rates, which contributes significantly to the ongoing loss of biodiversity.
Since 1990, it is estimated that 420 million hectares of forest have been lost through conversion to other land uses, although the rate of deforestation has decreased over the past three decades.

Between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year, down from 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s. The area of primary forest worldwide has decreased by over 80 million hectares since 1990.

Agricultural expansion continues to be the main driver of deforestation and forest degradation and the associated loss of forest biodiversity. Large-scale commercial agriculture (primarily cattle ranching and cultivation of soya bean and oil palm) accounted for 40 percent of tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2010, and local subsistence agriculture for another 33 percent….

Towards balanced solutions
Current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems will undermine progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal. Transformational change is needed in the way we manage our forests and their biodiversity, produce and consume our food and interact with nature.It is imperative that we decouple environmental degradation and unsustainable resource use from economic growth and associated production and consumption patterns.

Let’s explore a few ways that can lead us towards balanced solutions.

Working together for change
Critical to the transformations outlined above are effective governance, policy alignment between sectors and administrative levels, land-tenure security, respect for the rights and knowledge of local communities and indigenous peoples, enhanced capacity for monitoring of biodiversity outcomes, and innovative financing modalities.Ultimately, we need to foster a new relationship with nature, and we can achieve that together.”

*Fully sourced from http://www.fao.org/state-of-forests/en/

© Fostering Education & Environment for Development, Inc.