PEZA, to revive agro-forestry ecozones
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) said it is in dialogue with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to negotiate freeing up the wood industry of restrictions that hinder the establishment of agro-forestry economic zones.
PEZA Director-General Charito Plaza said it has presented its points to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on converting some of its regulated forests into special economic zones.
The nationwide ban on cutting and harvesting lumber has been in place since 2011 when former President Benigno Aquino III issued Executive Order 23. The aim of the policy was to stop the reportedly rapid thinning forest cover in the country.
“Right now, the wood industry [is hampered] by the log ban because of unclear policies. So now 100% of our timberlands are idle, unutilized. Which is why all of our wood industries have to import,” Plaza was quoted in a news report, adding that the agency is drawing up a position paper to this end.