The Industrial Tree Plantation Species Research and Innovation Center (ITPS Center) will play a pivotal role in the long-term upgrading of the wood-based industry in Caraga and the Philippines towards sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
The Center will serve as the core in continually gathering science-based information through research to be the basis for policy formulation/reform, technology enhancement and for innovative product designs and contemporary wood products.
In late December 2018, the Caraga State University through the leadership of its Vice President for Research, Innovation and Extension (VPRIE) Dr. Rowena P. Varela together with faculty-researchers of the University proposed the establishment of the ITPS Center for funding consideration under the Accelerated R&D Program for Capacity Building of Research and Development Institutions and Industrial Competitiveness: Niche Centers in the Regions for R & D (NICER) Program by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
The proposal went through a rigorous process and constant dialogue with its initial partners that included the DOST Caraga and the DOST Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).
The proposal was eventually presented to the PCAARRD Director’s Council and the DOST Executive Committeee (Execom), and was favorably approved by the Execom on March 13, 2019. The Center formally started on October 1, 2019 with DOST Grant-in-Aid funding of P19,368,376.46 . With Dr. Varela acting as the Program Leader, this NICER Program initially consist of three (3) projects for implementation, funded by DOST and monitored by PCAARRD. These projects are:
- Project 1. Development of a Project 1. Development of a Geodatabase of Industrial Tree Plantation in Caraga Region using Remote Sensing and GIS (led by Engr. Jojene R. Santillan)
- Project 2. The Intermediaries Characteristics and Practices in the Wood Industry of Caraga Region:Documentation and Analysis for Pareto-based Forestry Policy Actions (led by Dr. Raquel Balanay)
- Project 3. Analysis, Characterization, and Utilization of Wood Wastes from Tree Farms and WPPs in Caraga Region for Industrial Symbiosis (led by Dr. Rowena P. Varela)
The Center had its formal launching on November 28, 2019 at the Almont Inland Resort, Butuan City.
Why ITPS Center?
Caraga Region is the major producer of timber in the Philippines. It supplies about 70% of the timber requirement of the country annually, thus it is tagged as the ‘Timber Corridor of the Philippines’.
The timber industry flourishes in the region due largely to the favorable environment and availability of production technologies from big industrial tree plantation (ITP) developers that operated their businesses in Caraga in the past (e.g. PICOP, Provident Tree Farms, Inc., Casilayan Softwood). The established wood processing plants (WPPs) in the region serve as the local markets for timber produced from small to medium tree farms. The favorable agro-climatic and edaphic factors for tree farming and the business environment conducive for wood processing are the two major come-ons for the wood-based industry to locate in Caraga Region.
Recently, with the implementation of Executive Order 23 Series of 2011, the wood-based industry and the various players in the region have been affected due largely to the lack of provisions in the social, environmental and ecological aspects that guarantee the sustainability of the entire system. There had been issues about the log supply contracts and the tree farm certification due to the misconceptions about these policies. The implementation of the EO 23, therefore, resulted to the weakening of the wood industry in Caraga Region because many of the WPPs have closed down. This resulted to the reduction of market opportunities for tree farmers. Nevertheless, this also opens the tree farming business to new opportunities such as wood chips and wood pellets for bioenergy generation.
With the diverse social, economic, environmental and sustainability issues surrounding the wood-based industry in Caraga Region that affect the tree farming communities and the wood processing industry players, an institution that looks closely into the wood industry is essential.
With the current scenario, there is a need to establish a Center that provides the science and technological support to tree farming and the wood-based industry in the region. For instance, the policies and guidelines require science-based information as basis in making these attuned to the conditions in the regions and the country, as well as with the global requirements in relation to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). There is a need to establish baseline information that will determine the current and potential value of ITPS as key components in the wood-based industry in Caraga and in the entire country. The role of tree farming in uplifting the economic situations of the people involved along the chain is not yet fully understood in relation to regional development planning.
What do we want to achieve?
The ITPS Center will play a pivotal role in the long-term upgrading of the wood-based industry in Caraga and the Philippines towards sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The Center will serve as the core in continually gathering science-based information through research to be the basis for policy formulation/reform, technology enhancement and for innovative product designs and contemporary wood products.
For its initially operation as a Center under the NICER Program from 2019-2021, it aims to attain the following specific objectives:
- To develop a geo-database of ITPs in Caraga Region using RS and GIS;
- To document the various tactics and maneuvers performed by the different intermediaries of the wood industry in Caraga Region; and
- To assess and evaluate seasonality of supply of wood residues, possible utilization of wood waste for bioenergy and household decors and its market acceptability.
Who will benefit?
The Philippine Government: The Center will generate science-based information and innovative product designs that will upgrade the wood-based industry in Caraga Region. The region, being the biggest supplier of timber, will contribute to the Philippine economy if the region’s wood-based economy will be improved.
Caraga Region: The science-based information and services offered by the center will be of great help to the Caraga region since the information will be the basis for the formulation and implementation of policies and ordinances to improve the wood-based industry in the region. Likewise, the improved wood-based industry will generate employment and, therefore, more taxes will be paid to sustain the government programs.
Wood-based Industry Players: The Center will provide science-based information to guide the wood industry players in making informed decisions related to their enterprise. The innovation on wood and by-product utilization will also enhance the productivity of tree farms on a per hectare basis.
Local Government Units (LGUs): The Center will provide science-based information to support policy reforms and for effective management measures and regulations towards upgrading the wood-based industry. The information generated from the different studies conducted in the center will be the basis for training and education among tree farmers and other wood-based industry players.
Researchers: Researchers will be provided with an appropriate venue where they can conduct research and innovations such that reliable and up-do-date scientific information and innovative designs and products can be generated.