Cimatu forms audit teams to check compliance of IFMA holders nationwide

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has ordered the creation of audit teams to look into compliance of all industrial forest management agreement (IFMA) holders in 29 provinces across the country.

An IFMA is a production sharing deal between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and a qualified applicant, which grants the latter the exclusive right to develop, utilize and manage a specified area of forestland and forest resources for a period of 25 years, and may be renewed for another 25-year period.

Cimatu, in an order dated Jan. 18, designated DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones as head of the seven-member Performance Evaluation Committee (PEC) tasked to provide instructions and directions on the conduct of the performance audit of all existing IFMA contracts nationwide.

“The PEC will lead in the planning of the assessment activities and harmonize the conduct of the assessment in the different regions to ensure that the integrity of forests in providing goods and services are maintained,” Cimatu said.

The former Armed Forces chief also ordered the creation of 14 performance evaluation teams (PET), clustered into Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao island groups. Six teams will be created in Luzon, three in Visayas, and five in Mindanao.

He said the PEC has to “consolidate and analyze the findings and recommendations of the PETs, including the penalties and sanctions, if warranted.”

Cimatu specifically directed the PETs to scrutinize the 25-year comprehensive development and management plan (CDMP) approved by the DENR for each of the IFMA holder.

Operating on the principle of sustainable forest management, the CDMP details every facet and stage of forest management that an IFMA holder should implement as it establishes tree plantations while protecting and enhancing the remaining forest cover within the concession area.

The audit will cover five aspects in relation to the operations of IFMA contractors: technical, legal, environmental, economic, and impact on agricultural areas.

To ensure that all the five aspects will be covered by the review, Cimatu directed DENR regional directors to ensure that each of the14 PETs will have as members the experts from the Environmental Management Bureau and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

A Secretariat, consisting of experts from the Forest Management Bureau (FMB), will also be created to provide technical and administrative support to PEC and PETs, especially in the gathering of documents vital to the undertaking.

The PEC, through the Secretariat shall ensure the immediate implementation of activities and monitor day-to-day activities of the PETs and document all activities of the performance evaluation.

Based on FMB records, the country has an existing 102 IFMAs with a combined area of 727,982 hectares. Of these, however, only 89 IFMAs will be covered by the review of the DENR, as 13 are located within the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). ###