The inaugural Philippine Wood Expo & Forum in Manila in October was small but an event highly focused which was well structured and well attended. Organised by the Philippine Wood Producers Association (PWPA) at the splendid, traditional Manila Hotel on Manila Bay, it brought together a wide range of 400 forestry and wood industry exhibitors and delegates who were treated to a broad programme of excellent speakers.
Under the theme ‘Wood: a Strong Climate Change Solution’ there was not only much attention paid to the environmental benefits of wood, but also a recognition of innovation in wood products for the built environment. The Forum opened with a warm “Great Wood Morning” welcome from PWPA Chairman of the Board Charlie Liu who affirmed “our passion for wood” as a material that has no substitute when it comes to its environmental credentials; expressing his confidence in sustainable wood. In her message, the Vice President of the Philippines Leni Robredo hoped that “onlookers will be inspired to invest and support PWPA projects directed towards promoting our natural resources.” Other messages of support came from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and from the Federation of Philippine Industries as well as the Society of Filipino Foresters.
In keynote presentations the Department of Trade and Industry and the DENR set out the challenges, status and future of forests and wood in the fight against climate change which is already affecting the Philippines. One suggestion made was that the logging moratorium on natural forests has not affected the wood processing industry, which has become more efficient, especially with lesser known species. In particular there was recognition of the country’s dependence on imported wood and a call to import wood from countries with sustainable resources. It was no coincidence therefore that two of the supply regions most prominently exhibiting at the event were Malaysia, where MTCC/PEFC certification has long been established and North America where both hardwood and softwood forest growth exceeds harvest.
Setting the scene with some keynote remarks, Michael Buckley, Wood Industry Consultant from Singapore addressed the changes taking place for wood in terms of shifting resources, increasing legislation and environmental regulations, changing markets, new trade issues and innovations. “We are on the threshold of a new age in wood consumption as professional architects, engineers, designers and developers embrace wood in Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Thermally Modified Timber (TMT) for projects, such as high rise buildings, which were hitherto not possible,” he said.)
Over the two days, speakers addressed issues covering wood policy under the Duterte administration, the need for wood, engineered mass timber, interiors and incorporating wood in local architecture, as well as making bamboo work for sustainable design. This last subject and the presentation on green architecture for sustainable cities demonstrated a thread that ran through the entire proceedings from the keynote addresses, through the whole programme and the many exhibitors showing forest and wood certification logos. The Philippines is becoming increasingly conscious of the need to address its own issues of the environment and global climate change. The country is in the process of developing a national Philippine Forest Certification System with the intention of seeking endorsement by PEFC, which gave a presentation to a full house at the event, entitled PEFC in ASEAN: Status, Challenges & Direction. Mr Ricardo Calderon, DENR Philippines, has said “We’ve made great progress in developing and testing our Forest Management standard in the Philippines, and will now progress towards establishing a PEFC-recognized certification system. We need such a tool to encourage sustainable management in our forests and to support green growth in our economy.” Meanwhile, as the PEFC presentation discussed, companies trading wood in the Philippines with Chain of Custody certification do not need to wait.
Closing the two day event Mr Charlie Liu (above) and Vice Chairman, Mr. Ramon Uy, summed up by saying Wood Expo and Forum 2016 had been “inclusive, innovative and integrated” and indicated that the next one would be organised in 2018.