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Cablegate: Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Fund

VZCZCXRO4699
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHFK RUEHHM RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHPB
DE RUEHML #1941/01 2570918
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 140918Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5160
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHZU/ASIAN PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001941

SIPDIS

STATE FOR OES/, EB/IFD/OIA, EAP/PMBS
DOE FOR TOM CUTLER
TRESURY FOR JVELTRI
USDA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
STATE PASS EXIM, OPIC, AND USTR
STATE PASS USAID FOR AA/ANE, AA/EGAT, DAA/ANE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON RP CN XE XD
SUBJECT: Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Fund

1. Summary: The USG-funded Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation
Fund (PTFCF) decided in recent meetings to become a sustainable
source of funding for forest conservation work and to consider
climate change mitigation and adaptation as a factor in selecting
projects for funding. Since 2005, PTFCF has funded 110 projects,
resulting in the reforestation of nearly 13 thousand hectares and
protection of over 1 million hectares of Philippine forests. End
Summary.

Successful USG Forest Conservation
----------------------------------

2. The PTFCF was established in 2002 by agreements between the
United States and the Philippines under the U.S. Tropical Forest
Conservation Act. These agreements leveraged a $5.5 million USG
appropriation into $8.25 million in payments spread over 14 years to
the PTFCF to fund forest conservation projects. Since 2005, PTFCF
has funded 110 conservation projects resulting in the reforestation,
including agro-forestry development, of nearly 13 thousand hectares,
and protection of over 1 million hectares of forests in key regions
of the Philippines. The PTFCF also supports enforcement work and
policy reforms in the forestry sector. Most PTFCF assistance is
programmed to last one year or less within critical forest areas,
with annual funding assistance of up $40 thousand per project.
Initially, most projects focused on the few remaining Philippine
dipterocarp forests (these are tall-growing tropical trees valued
commercially for their timber and aromatic oils.) However, a
growing number of projects have targeted replanting coastal mangrove
forests critical for their role in fish spawning, carbon
sequestration, and preventing coastal erosion.

More Resources to Support Forest Conservation
---------------------------------------------

3. During strategic planning meetings held September 3-5, PTFCF
Trustees resolved that the Foundation should seek to extend its life
beyond the originally envisioned 14-year lifespan through
fundraising and collaboration with non-governmental organizations
with similar conservation objectives. To achieve the goal of
sustainable funding, the Trustees plan to hire a consultant to help
the Foundation design and implement fundraising strategies and to
expand the search for additional Trustees that could be filled by
individuals with strong corporate and fund-raising expertise. The
Trustees noted that several commercial corporations were promoting
good conservation work in the Philippines and would be able to
contribute needed skills and experience in vetting and monitoring
the community organizations that usually implement the Foundation's
projects.

Emphasis on Climate Change
--------------------------

4. The PTFCF Trustees have recognized that climate change could
adversely impact forest conservation while simultaneously posing an
opportunity to galvanize additional funding for forest conservation.
The Trustees resolved to invest in strategic initiatives that would
address climate change issues and support local and national
mitigation and adaptation efforts. This decision places additional
emphasis on vulnerability assessments of key forest areas. The
Trustees also decided that preference should be given to projects
that provided livelihoods to forest-dependent communities, reduce
cutting of natural forests, encourage forest protection in order to
reduce forest loss and enhance carbon sequestration.

Other Matters Resolved by Trustees
----------------------------------

5. The Board of Trustees also resolved to streamline PTFCF
procedures in evaluating and selecting projects to create a more
transparent and efficient grant making process. Other recent PTFCF
accomplishments include publication of an instruction manual for the
selection, planting, and care of dipterocarp seedlings; and a series
of land cover maps of the Philippines showing locations of remaining
old growth and residual forests, grasslands, and other vegetation.

Comment
-------

6. Over the past seven years, PTFCF has made significant progress in
carrying out its primary mission of slowing the destruction of
Philippine tropical forests. The Foundation serves as a model to
countries like Indonesia which is now setting up a similar

MANILA 00001941 002 OF 002


foundation under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act. In the next
five years, the Fund will continue to explore ways to be responsive
to challenges facing the forest sector such as rural poverty, rapid
population growth, and climate change.

Kenney

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