Overview Objectives

This project aims to rehabilitate critical watersheds in the Philippines.
Substantial deforestation has occurred in many critical watersheds in the Philippines. In March 2011, the Philippine government launched the National Greening Program (NGP), which aimed to reforest 1.5 million hectares of denuded forestlands by 2016. The program has been expanded until 2028 to rehabilitate another 7.1 million hectares of degraded forest. Following the community-based forestry approach, the NGP focuses on how reforestation can benefit local communities.
The project will:
Conduct scientific investigations to determine the success of reforestation programs in the Philippines including the current National Greening Program (NGP)
Develop a policy assessment model to identify key intervention points to improve outcomes of watershed rehabilitation
Design and pilot test an evidence-based community-led watershed rehabilitation program to inform policy makers and program implementers on best practice in people-based forest landscape restoration

Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

Substantial deforestation has occurred in many critical watersheds in the Philippines, which has led to severe environmental, social and economic problems within, and outside, these watersheds. In March 2011, President Aquino announced the National Greening Program (NGP) through Executive Order 26, which represents a very significant further commitment to reforestation in the Philippines. The NGP plans to establish 1.5 Million ha of forest over 6 years - with a focus on the benefits of tree planting accruing to local communities. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has the primary responsibility for implementing the NGP, with the UDP to be subsumed into the NGP. Past efforts in watershed rehabilitation in the Philippines have had limited success, largely due to the failure to of programs to adequately address key socio-economic and institutional issues. The NGP will face similar challenges unless a better understanding of the factors that contribute to the success and failure of rehabilitation is gained.
The aim of ASEM/2010/050 is to improve the rehabilitation of critical watersheds in the Philippines by identifying the key technical, socio-economic and policy drivers for successful rehabilitation and then applying this knowledge to design and pilot test initiatives to improve the outcomes from watershed rehabilitation including improved watershed health, sustainable land use, and increased livelihood opportunities for rural upland poor leading to decreased poverty.
The project commenced on 1 March 2012 and has made good initial progress. A project planning and inception workshop was held in July 2012. The workshop which was attended by 52 people, including representatives from DENR Regions 8 and 10, Local Government Units, NGOs, Community Organisations and smallholders involved in reforestation, along with project researchers from Australia, Netherlands and the Philippines. Twenty five papers were presented at the workshop and the workshop proceedings are being finalised. A very successful satellite participatory workshop with stakeholders was held which identified key intervention points and initiatives to improve reforestation outcomes.
Project researchers have worked hard to consolidate excellent existing relationships with DENR at both the national and regional level. High level briefings of national-level DENR officials were held in July and October 2012. An outcome of these briefing was a request from DENR for an assessment of the first two years of plantings under the NGP to be undertaken as part of project activities in Regions 8 and 10. The field component of this assessment has been completed and will be presented to DENR in November 2013. Project staff have been working closely with DENR at the regional and provincial levels, including jointly undertaking the assessment of the NGP. A Technical Working Group has been formed with Region 8 staff in Tacloban.
The project established an analytical laboratory at Visayas State University which has improved the capacity to undertake analysis of soil, plant and water samples. The laboratory was officially opened by the Dr Joe Bacusmo, President of VSU, in February 2013.
In August 2012, Professor John Herbohn (ASEM/2010/050) was awarded the Sandigan Award from Visayas State University. The Sandigan Award is the highest award given by the university to individuals/organizations that have significantly assisted/contributed to the development of VSU. This Award reflects the sustained support given by ACIAR to VSU via projects led by Professor Herbohn since 2000.
During the period from 1 March 2012 through to As at May 31, 2013, we have good progress against project objectives, namely:
Objective 1: Identify the key factors that have led to the success or failure of watershed rehabilitation/reforestation programs in the Philippines. Progress: At the request of the DENR, the work program was extended to include an assessment of the 2011 and 2012 NGP plantings in Regions 8 and 10. The field work and data analysis for this objective has been largely completely and several publications are in process.
Objective 2: identify key intervention points and design initiatives to improve watershed rehabilitation outcomes by working with communities, LGUs and DENR. Progress: The key drivers and interventions for improving watershed rehabilitation success have been identified and description of specific initiatives to pilot test to improve outcomes has been commenced. A prototype policy assessment model has been developed.
Objective 3: Pilot test initiatives to improve watershed rehabilitation outcomes and implement local level policy changes in partnership with DENR and LGUs and communities. Progress: Initial analysis completed. Value-adding opportunities for existing mature forest resources was identified as a promising option and implementation plans have been developed for a pilot trial of harvesting plantation timber in Biliran. Implementation of community nurseries has also commenced. Further livelihood opportunities to pilot test are being also being investigated. A draft Best Practice Manual on watershed rehabilitation has been prepared including training and extension materials for seedling production in smallholder nurseries. Mixed-species and variable spacing field trails have been established.
Objective 4: Design and implement on-going monitoring of the effectiveness of interventions and initiatives to improve watershed rehabilitation outcomes and develop policy recommendations based on outcomes. Progress: During the period we commenced baseline socio-economic data collection in the areas in which we will undertake pilot testing of livelihood initiatives. A paired watershed has been identified with one watershed having been reforested about 15 years ago and the other watershed in degraded condition. Weirs have been established and monitoring equipment installed. Monitoring has commenced. Community members have been engaged as part of the monitoring process and this will help inform the development of the longer term program

Substantial deforestation has occurred in many critical watersheds in the Philippines, which has led to severe environmental, social and economic problems within, and outside, these watersheds. In March 2011, President Aquino announced the National Greening Program (NGP) through Executive Order 26, which represents a very significant further commitment to reforestation in the Philippines. The NGP plans to establish 1.5 Million ha of forest over 6 years - with a focus on the benefits of tree planting accruing to local communities. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has the primary responsibility for implementing the NGP, with the Upland Development Program (UDP) being subsumed into the NGP. Past efforts in watershed rehabilitation in the Philippines have had limited success, largely due to the failure of programs to adequately address key socio-economic and institutional issues. The NGP will face similar challenges unless a better understanding of the factors that contribute to the success and failure of rehabilitation is gained.
The aim of ASEM/2010/050 is to improve the rehabilitation of critical watersheds in the Philippines by identifying the key technical, socio-economic and policy drivers for successful rehabilitation and then applying this knowledge to design and pilot test initiatives to improve the outcomes from watershed rehabilitation including improved watershed health, sustainable landuse, and increased livelihood opportunities for rural upland poor leading to decreased poverty.
Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda) hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013 crossing the coast at Tacloban and then moved across Leyte in a roughly westerly direction. Typhoon Haiyan, however, has had a major impact on project operations. It passed directly over the Manobo and Basper sites just outside of Tacloban where the majority of the hydrology research is being conducted. It also severely affected both sites in terms physical damage to trees at Manobo and erosion at Basper. Fortunately no community members were hurt. Only minor damage was suffered to field equipment still deployed, this equipment continued monitoring for most of the event. Only one wind meter was destroyed. The Typhoon caused extensive damage to a number of field trials. Of the eight field trials managed by the project, only four have been considered appropriate for continued monitoring and collection of research data. These trials are mixed species trial, variable spacing trial and two germlasm and thinning trials. The Typhoon also caused extensive damage to the community forests in Biliran that were to be harvested as part of a harvesting and value-adding trial. The Typhoon also resulted in extensive damage to the VSU Campus where the project is based. The upper campus where the analytical laboratory of the project is located suffered brownouts for three months, which meant no laboratory analyses could be undertaken. There was also no access to internet and telephone from the VSU campus for four months, severely restricting project communication. Typhoon Haiyan also presented some opportunities. We undertook a post-Typhoon assessment of damage to smallholder and community forests. This assessment is now complete and is being written up. It will provide valuation information about which species are most resistant to typhoon damage.
During the year, surveys were undertaken in Regions 8 and 10 to assess the quality of planting materials and the survival of planted seedlings in the 2011 and 2012 NGP plantations. These were carried out by project researchers in partnership with DENR offices at the local level. A strong and active partnership with peoples’ organisation in the pilot research watershed in Biliran was established. Surveys were conducted in Biliran to examine the socio-economic impacts of the NGP. A study was also carried out to investigate the challenges of the active participation of Local Government Units (LGUs) in the implementation of the NGP. All these investigations provided a concrete background of the strengths and weaknesses of the NGP and served as basis of the project in designing interventions for improving the process of watershed rehabilitation and management.
Field trials were established to design effective silvicultural treatments to promote the success of watershed rehabilitation. These trials include the mixed species trial of native and exotic trees both legume and non-legume, variable spacing trial, and a nursery trial investigating the effect of fertiliser and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal inoculation on the growth of seedlings in the nursery. The latest trial will be extended to a field trial to determine the effects of nursery treatments and additional field treatments on outplanted seedlings. Two trials have been designed and will be established towards the latter part of this year. These are the mixed species trial of native trees and investigation on grass-seedling relationship.
A pilot large-scale community-based reforestation project is being implemented in Biliran Province. Central to this project is the implementation of interventions addressing the shortcomings of government and non-government reforestation programs in the country. This project adopts the participatory approach, involving active participation of stakeholders in the conceptualisation, planning, implementation and monitoring of the project. A series of meetings and workshops with stakeholders was held and capacity building activities were undertaken. Technical support was also provided to the PO to successfully obtain the harvesting permit to utilise their mature plantation of Acacia mangium as part of their livelihood project.
Project researchers have worked hard to consolidate excellent existing relationships with DENR at both the national and regional level. High level briefings of national-level DENR officials were held in February 2014.
The project established an analytical laboratory at Visayas State University, which has improved the capacity of the project to undertake analysis of soil, plant and water samples. The laboratory has processed a large number of samples related to various research activities of project participants. There has been continued development of the facilities and training of laboratory staff during the past year.
During the period from June 1 to May 31, 2014, we have made considerable progress against project objectives, namely:
Objective 1: Identify the key factors that have led to the success or failure of watershed rehabilitation/reforestation programs in the Philippines.
Progress: At the request of the DENR, the work program was extended to include an assessment of the 2011 and 2012 NGP plantings in Regions 8 and 10. Assessment of the quality of seedlings used in these plantations was also conducted. The field work and data analysis for this objective has been largely completed and several publications are in process.
Objective 2: Identify key intervention points and design initiatives to improve watershed rehabilitation outcomes by working with communities, LGUs and DENR.
Progress: The key drivers and interventions for improving watershed rehabilitation success have been identified and description of specific initiatives to pilot test to improve outcomes has been completed A prototype policy assessment model has been developed.
Objective 3: Pilot test initiatives to improve watershed rehabilitation outcomes and implement local level policy changes in partnership with DENR and LGUs and communities.
Progress: Initial analysis has been completed. Value-adding opportunities for existing mature forest resources was identified as a promising option and a pilot harvesting trial in Biliran has been completed. A journal article titled ‘How Useful are Small Stands of Low Quality Timber?’ has been submitted to Small-scale Forestry. A further journal article which describes the governance and power relationships of small community-based organisations, is in the final stages of preparation.
Implementation of community nurseries has also commenced. Further livelihood opportunities to pilot test are being also being investigated including nursery seedling production, furniture making, firewood production and agroforestry. A draft Best Practice Manual on watershed rehabilitation has been prepared including training and extension materials for seedling production in smallholder nurseries. Mixed-species and variable spacing field trials have been established.
Objective 4: Design and implement on-going monitoring of the effectiveness of interventions and initiatives to improve watershed rehabilitation outcomes and develop policy recommendations based on outcomes.
Progress: During the period we commenced baseline socio-economic data collection in the areas in which we will undertake pilot testing of livelihood initiatives. Some interventions including the implementation of a trial reforestation project in one of the pilot watersheds have commenced. A monitoring scheme to evaluate the impacts of interventions on the socio-economic condition of the PO members and policy environment surrounding watershed rehabilitation programs has been developed. A paired watershed has been identified with one watershed having been reforested about 15 years ago and the other watershed in degraded condition. Weirs have been established and monitoring equipment installed. The monitoring has commenced. Community members have been engaged as part of the monitoring process and this will help inform the development of the longer term program.

Substantial deforestation has occurred in many critical watersheds in the Philippines, which has led to severe environmental, social and economic problems within, and outside, these watersheds. In March 2011, President Aquino announced the National Greening Program (NGP) through Executive Order 26, which represents a very significant further commitment to reforestation in the Philippines. The NGP plans to establish 1.5 Million ha of forest over 6 years - with a focus on the benefits of tree planting accruing to local communities. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has the primary responsibility for implementing the NGP, with the Upland Development Program (UDP) being subsumed into the NGP. Past efforts in watershed rehabilitation in the Philippines have had limited success, largely due to the failure of programs to adequately address key socio-economic and institutional issues. The NGP will face similar challenges unless a better understanding of the factors that contribute to the success and failure of rehabilitation is gained.
The aim of ASEM/2010/050 is to improve the rehabilitation of critical watersheds in the Philippines by identifying the key technical, socio-economic and policy drivers for successful rehabilitation and then applying this knowledge to design and pilot test initiatives to improve the outcomes from watershed rehabilitation including improved watershed health, sustainable landuse, and increased livelihood opportunities for rural upland poor leading to decreased poverty.
Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda) hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013 crossing the coast at Tacloban and then moved across Leyte in a roughly westerly direction. Typhoon Haiyan, had a major impact on project operations, with impacts still being experienced in this reporting period. Typhoon Haiyan also presented some opportunities. We undertook a post-Typhoon assessment of damage to smallholder and community forests. This assessment is now complete and is being written up. It will provide valuable information about which species are most resistant to typhoon damage.
A strong and active partnership with peoples’ organisation in the pilot research watershed in Biliran continues. We also undertook a series of studies were also undertaken to determine the meaning of participation in reforestation projects among upland communities, pests and diseases in tree nurseries and plantations, effects of mycorrhiza and inorganic fertilizer application on the growth performance of tree seedlings, livelihoods assessment and related concerns. All these investigations provided a concrete background of the strengths and weaknesses of the NGP and served as basis of the project in designing interventions for improving the process of watershed rehabilitation and management.
Further nursery and field trials were established to design effective silvicultural treatments to promote the success of watershed rehabilitation. These trials include the mixed species trial of native and exotic trees both legume and non-legume, nursery trial investigating the effect of fertiliser and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal inoculation on the growth of seedlings in the nursery, and field trial to determine the effect of mycorrhiza inoculation on outplanted seedlings..
A pilot large-scale community-based reforestation programme was implemented in Biliran Province. Central to this programme is the implementation of interventions addressing the shortcomings of government and non-government reforestation programmes in the country. This programme is evidence-based; using the results of past and present research activities of ACIAR-funded projects in the Philippines led by Professor Herbohn, and lessons learned from previous government-led reforestation programmes in the country. It adopts the participatory approach, involving active participation of stakeholders in the conceptualisation, planning, implementation and monitoring of the programme. A series of meetings and workshops with stakeholders was held and capacity building activities were undertaken. Technical support was also provided to the PO to become accredited seedling supplier of DENR and also to avail funds from the Philippine government to plant fruit trees and agricultural crops within the reforestation site.
Project researchers have undertaken high level briefings of regional and national-level DENR officials to inform the top officials regarding the progress of the programme implementation and convey results of research activities that are highly relevant for improving the implementation of reforestation programs in the Philippines. Most importantly, in
The project established an analytical laboratory at Visayas State University, which has improved the capacity of the project to undertake analysis of soil, plant and water samples. The laboratory has processed a large number of samples related to various research activities of project participants. There has been continued development of the facilities and training of laboratory staff during the past year. Also, during the period Dr Bob Congdon, a project researcher, retired from James Cook University donated the surplus equipment in his laboratory to VSU to extend the capacity of both the analytical laboratory established by the project and the Soil Science Laboratory in the university. This equipment included: UV spectrophotometer, atomic absorption spectrophotometer, pH meter, water distiller, centrifuge and block digester, Further, two undergraduate and two graduate students of Department of Soil Science of VSU had also used project laboratory facilities in the chemical analyses of their soil and plant samples for their thesis.
During the period from June 1 to May 31, 2015, research activities have been concentrated on the implementation of the pilot reforestation program in Biliran Island and the initiatives of promoting effective seedling quality control mechanisms for successful national reforestation programs. The protocol developed by on mother tree selection and seedling quality assessment developed by the ACIAR ASEM/2010/050 and the previous ACIAR ASEM/2006/091 is being promoted as improvement of the existing protocol and criteria in DENR Administrative Order 2010-11. Considerable progress against the project objectives were made:
Objective 1: Identify the key factors that have led to the success or failure of watershed rehabilitation/reforestation programs in the Philippines.
Progress: During this period, the series of meetings, workshops and consultations with stakeholder groups during the conceptualisation, designing, planning and implementing the pilot reforestation programme revealed important information pertaining to the factors that have led to the success and failure of community-based watershed rehabilitation programme. Investigations were also carried out to determine the perceptions of smallholders in the pilot community towards the meaning of participation in community-based watershed rehabilitation projects. The participation of local government units in the implementation of the National Greening Programme was also investigated. These research undertakings also provided crucial information on factors causing the success and failure of people-based watershed rehabilitation and management programmes in the Philippines.
Objective 2: Identify key intervention points and design initiatives to improve watershed rehabilitation outcomes by working with communities, LGUs and DENR.
Progress: The key drivers and interventions for improving watershed rehabilitation success have been identified, description of specific initiatives to pilot test to improve outcomes has been completed and a prototype policy assessment model has been developed. Pilot testing of potential interventions has been undertaken as components of the pilot community-based reforestation programme in Biliran Island (Region 8) and field trials in Bukidnon (Region 10).A paper on ‘Challenges in Implementing a National Policy to Regulate the Quality of Seedlings for Reforestation Prorammes in the Philippines’ has been submitted to the International Forestry Review. This paper presents the analysis of seedling production systems and the quality of planting stock of the present National Greening Programme.
Objective 3: Pilot test initiatives to improve watershed rehabilitation outcomes and implement local level policy changes in partnership with DENR and LGUs and communities.
Progress:
A package of social, economic, biophysical and policy initiatives has been implemented in the pilot community -based reforestation programme. Participatory programme planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation have been adopted. Appropriate community organising with strong support from the community organisers has been practiced. Capacity building of farmer partners and personnel of the local DENR office has been carried out. Best management practice in seedling production, and plantation establishment and maintenance has been applied.
Initiatives to promote the nursery seedling enterprise as a livelihood project of the peoples’ organisation implementing the pilot reforestation programme has been implemented. The nursery of the PO and quality of seedlings passed the evaluation carried out by the Ecosystems Research and Development Section of the DENR at the regional level. This is the DENR office responsible for the regulation of the quality of seedlings for government-led reforestation projects. A provincial policy to adopt the nursery accreditation protocol developed by the previous ACIAR Quality Seedling Project and promoted by the present ACIAR Watershed has been developed by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer of DENR in Biliran
Objective 4: Design and implement on-going monitoring of the effectiveness of interventions and initiatives to improve watershed rehabilitation outcomes and develop policy recommendations based on outcomes.
Progress: The project has finalised the field component of the monitoring of a paired watershed (one watershed having been reforested about 15 years ago and the other watershed in degraded condition). Community members were engaged as part of the monitoring process and this will help inform the development of the longer term program.
Monitoring of the socio-economic and biophysical impacts of the pilot reforestation program have commenced with the implementation of the program in Biliran. Project staff and PO members have carried out regular measurements of seeding parameters including height and base diameter.

Substantial deforestation has occurred in many critical watersheds in the Philippines, which has led to severe environmental, social and economic problems within, and outside, these basins. The aim of ASEM/2010/050 is to improve the rehabilitation of critical watersheds in the Philippines by identifying the key technical, socio-economic and policy drivers for successful rehabilitation and then applying this knowledge to design and pilot test initiatives to improve the outcomes from watershed rehabilitation including improved watershed health, sustainable landuse, and increased livelihood opportunities for rural upland poor leading to decreased poverty.

During this reporting period (i.e. 2015-2016), Project research activities largely focused on the implementation and monitoring of the pilot community-based reforestation program in Biliran Island. Inventory on the survival and measurement of growth of outplanted seedlings have been conducted. A study on vegetation change inside the plantation is being conducted. Assessment on the social and economic impacts of the pilot reforestation program was also undertaken in May 2016.

Work has also continued on initiatives to amend existing policies of DENR to further the success of community-based reforestation programs in the Philippines. The protocols for mother tree selection and seedling quality assessment developed by the Project and the previous ACIAR ASEM/2006/091 are being promoted as an improvement of the existing protocol and criteria in DENR Administrative Order 2010-11. Meetings with senior officials of DENR at the national office have been conducted to deliberate the proposed protocols and discuss strategies for national adoption. Also, key results and findings of the Project in implementing the pilot community-based reforestation program in Biliran have been presented to senior officials of DENR at the national level including the Undersecretary of DENR for field operations, Assistant Secretary of the Forest Management Bureau, and Directors of the Forest Management Bureau (FMB), Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB).

The project is entering its final year and a focus has been on developing research articles conveying important findings of the research initiatives of the Project. During the year papers were published in leading international journals including Nature Scientific Reports, Biodiversity and Conservation, Environmental Science and Policy, Global Environmental Change, Land-use Policy, Ecological Modelling and Small-scale Forestry. There are more than 10 further articles either under review or in advanced stages of development. In addition, an outline of the pilot reforestation initiative at Biliran was featured in an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) book Enhancing Food Security Through Forest Landscape Restoration published in 2015. Our case study was one of only seven among 182 submissions from around the world. Our reforestation pilot program has also been selected to feature in another IUCN book featuring case studies on Nature-based Solutions.

Project researchers have undertaken high-level briefings of DENR officials at the regional and national levels. These briefings were conducted to inform senior officials of the progress of the pilot community-based reforestation program including associated research activities that are highly relevant for improving the implementation of reforestation programs in the Philippines.

The analytical laboratory established by the project processed over 3200 samples from various project activities during the period. Sample throughput was down however due to problems acquiring chemicals because of new government restrictions. These problems have now been overcome and the lab is once again operating efficiently. Dr Congdon also provided continuous mentoring to the project staff working in the analytical laboratory of the Project.

Project ID
ASEM/2010/050
Project Country
Inactive project countries
Commissioned Organisation
University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
Project Leader
Dr John Herbohn
Email
jherbohn@usc.edu.au
Phone
+61 438 621534
Fax
Collaborating Institutions
University of Queensland, Australia
Visayas State University, Philippines
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippines
Southern Cross University, Australia
Harvard University, Australia
James Cook University, Australia
Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Project Budget
$2,034,788.00
Start Date
01/03/2012
Finish Date
31/03/2017
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Jayne Curnow