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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has earmarked a total of P100 million to finance entrepreneurial ventures of selected upland-based peoples organizations (POs) taking part in the department’s Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) program.

“The government vision is to see our people’s organizations developed into entrepreneurs, competent in financial management as well as in marketing strategies,” Paje said, adding that the fund will be made available to qualified upland communities to start off their environment and natural resources-based business enterprises.

Paje disclosed that the guidelines for the selection of the people’s organizations which will be granted assistance of up to P1 million under the program is now being finalized by the DENR’s Forest Management Bureau (FMB).

Earlier, the DENR through FMB has launched a handbook entitled “Guidebook on ENR (environment and natural resources) Enterprises Development and Management”, providing a step-by-step guide in setting up, managing and sustaining small enterprises dependent on forest resources in the uplands.

“The handbook has twin objectives -- to transform our upland farmers become effective entrepreneurs and at the same time make them responsible forest stewards. They should realize that the sustainability of their business ventures is hinged on the availability of raw materials so that they need to protect their environment and continue developing their natural resources,” he stressed.

Paje cited at least three indicators for a potential beneficiary of the fund should possess, namely: Active registration either with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), or the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); an efficient record system that show the organization’s assets and liabilities, particularly its business transactions or activities and its performance in giving tangible benefits to its member communities; and the level of improvement or development of the CBFM area in terms of vegetation growth and implementation of sustainable livelihood practices.

According to him, there are already some people’s organizations that have been initially identified as “having shown potentials to meet these key indicators” but refused to name them yet as the forestry bureau is still finalizing the criteria.

“To ensure that the funds are allocated appropriately, the FMB is drawing up the criteria that will identify which POs have reached a stable level of performance to boost their reliability as an organization,” he said.

Paje also stressed that those with active linkages with local government units will enjoy an advantage in the selection particularly POs whose host-LGUs have an approved Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP).