Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has ordered the transfer of the authority to renew Wood Processing Plant (WPP) permits to regional executive directors as part of its efforts to improve transactions in government offices.

Cimatu's directive, contained in DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2021-05, Revised Regulations Governing the Establishment and Operations of Wood Processing Plants, likewise extended the validity of WPP permits from three to five years.

"This order is pursuant to the objectives of Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business to eliminate over-regulation and to promote efficiency," Cimatu said of the directive issued on March 26, 2021.

With the order, only the applications for new WPP permits will be accepted and reviewed by the Undersecretary for Field Operations at the DENR Central Office.

Before the issuance of DAO 2021-05, approval and renewal of WPP permits were conducted at the DENR Central Office per DAO 2016-07 or the DENR Manual of Authorities for Technical Matters dated May 19, 2016.

"This is but one of the many reforms the DENR has set out to do to shore up investments and employment in the country’s forest sector and increase the local supply of wood products and employment productivity in forest resource-dependent communities in the uplands," Cimatu said.

He added that extending the permit’s validity to five years is also consistent with the provision of Executive Order (EO) 23.

EO 23, which declares a "moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in natural and residual forests nationwide," requires WPPs to prove that they have a sustainable source of legally cut wood for at least five years to be able to operate.

Covered by the permits are WPP operators and lumber dealers engaged in the operation of sawmill, mini-sawmill, re-saw permit, plywood/veneer plants, blockboards, fiberboard, particleboard, and other wood-based panel plants and wood treating plants.

Cimatu explained that this development is part of the DENR’s efforts to fine-tune its regulatory policies with recent forestry policy reforms.

It will also help boost the establishment of production tree plantations in private lands which can be sources of domestic timber to minimize timber importation.

Meanwhile, for tenure instrument holders engaged in tree plantation development, the validity of the WPP permit is co-terminus with the said tenure instrument, to promote vertical integration.

With the reforms, private landowners and holders of forestry tenure instruments such as the Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA), Socialized Industrial Forest Management Agreement (SIFMA), and Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) are expected to establish their own WPPs to encourage vertical integration.

This will enable wood-based enterprises to control multiple processes in the supply chain such as tree growing, harvesting, wood processing, marketing.

It will also enhance their production efficiency resulting in lower production costs. ###