FOREST COVER CHANGES AND THE SHIFT OF FOREST MANAGEMENT IN AURORA PROVINCE
TRINA G. ISORENA
MS GEOGRAPHY (DECEMBER 2008)
Department of Geography
Commercial logging through the Timber License Agreement (TLA) was the primary system implemented by the Philippines to manage its forest resources from1950s up to early 1990s. This period was associated with high rates of deforestation and increasing number of environmental disasters experienced by Filipinos. In the following years, pressure from the different sectors of the Philippine society pushed the government to shift the paradigm of forest management policies in the country. The changes instituted focused on expanding collaborative management of forest and forestlands resources by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with indigenous peoples, forest resource dependent communities, local government and private groups. Most significant among the changes was the institution of new forms of resource tenure which transformed the once Timber License Agreement (TLA)-dominated forestlands of Aurora Province. Primary beneficiaries of these changes are the communities who were given tenure on the public lands. This study examines the impacts of the changes in tenure-related forest management approach in the Philippines on the forest environment and resource access among communities in Aurora. It analyzes these changes within the context of the amendments in forest management policies. The study illustrates the impact on the environment by looking at forest cover as an indicator of change. Through the use of Geographic Information System (GIS), the forest cover maps from 1981, 1989 and 2003 were analyzed comparing extent of forest cover in Aurora and deriving the rates, patterns and types of processes of forest cover changes in the province. It was then related to the type of tenure existing in the area. The experiences of communities living in the forestlands are documented and analyzed to study how policies that assert to ensure their tenure security and resource access have actually helped them.