MANILA -- Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is looking into possible changes in forestry-related policies to help boost the Philippine wood industry's performance.

Change must come to prevent further decline of the industry that was once a global leader in wood production, said DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu.

"We'd like to catch up," he said Tuesday (Jan. 28) at the sidelines of the first Wood Summit held in Mandaluyong City citing unsustainable forestry as helping fuel the industry's decline.

In setting needed policy changes to meet domestic and foreign wood demand, he said DENR will study recommendations presented by stakeholders during the summit.

DENR will also continue coordinating with other agencies and stakeholders concerned to further identify industry challenges needing solutions.

Forest Management Bureau (FMB) Dir. Nonito Tamayo raised urgency for action noting supply of wood and wood-based products in the country is no longer sufficient to meet domestic demand.

The country's annual production is about 1.0 million cubic meters (cu. m.) only, he noted.

"That's very low because annual Philippine demand is 6.0 million cu.m.," he said.

He said such shortage in supply is forcing the Philippines to import instead.

"We're importing about 80 percent of our needs," he said.

Philippine Wood Producers Association (PWPA) presented at the summit several recommendations for helping boost the country's wood industry.

Government must pass the proposed National Land Use Act, Sustainable Forest Management Act and Forest Limits Act to promote development of tree farms nationwide, noted PWPA chairperson Charlie Liu.

Liu said DENR must develop a national forest certification system and promote a business climate conducive to investments in forestry.

"To attract investors on a large scale, government policies and guidelines should be clear, simple and investor-friendly," he added.

DENR reiterated support for boosting the country's wood industry.

“The agency will continue promoting measures for facilitating conduct of forestry-related business matters, “FMB Assistant Director Mayumi Quintos-Natividad reassured the summit's participants. (PNA)