The Philippines used to be a major timber exporter until the 1970's but excessive unsustainable logging has resulted in a timber deficit and the associated requirement for substantial timber imports. Since the 1980s, the Philippine Government has conducted various programs to promote industrial and smallholder forestry to address this timber shortage. While smallholder forestry is undertaken for various purposes, the economic objective of tree planting is central. The standard of smallholder woodlot silviculture is low, as demonstrated by the low timber quality, i.e. short and small logs with some defects. However, tree farmers are reluctant to improve their silviculture practices, particularly thinning treatments, due to their lack of understanding of the financial benefits these generate. The research problem in this thesis is ‘can smallholder tree farmers and the timber industry increase revenue from improved silviculture treatment and milling organisation?’ Specifically, the thesis aimed to address the following questions:
1. What is the quantity and quality of timber from smallholder tree farms and what is the demand for this timber from buyers on Leyte Island, the Philippines?
2. What are the attitudes and plans of timber entrepreneurs concerning the purchase of farm-grown timber?
3. What are the recovery rates of on-farm chainsaw milling and off-farm mini-bandsaw milling and which among these milling options provide greater financial benefits to smallholders?
4. Does thinning on smallholder tree farms improve the quantity and quality of timber and is it financially justified?
5. What is the optimal flow of timber to on-farm chainsaw milling and off-farm mini-bandsaw milling in the Leyte Island smallholder timber industry and does thinning on smallholder woodlots provide additional revenue to the industry?
Timber yield by product category of existing smallholder woodlots is examined to provide a basis for comparing timber yield under improved silviculture. A timber yield model was developed to predict the timber yield of smallholder woodlots for various silviculture treatments. To determine the financial performance of smallholder woodlots under various silvicultural treatments, a financial model was also developed from which silviculture treatments have been compared on the basis of land expectation value (LEV, the net present value for an infinite series of forestry rotations) and timber yield by product categories. A transhipment model has been developed in a Generalised Algebraic Modelling System (GAMS) computer package to determine if the timber industry could benefit from additional high-value timber produced from improved silviculture treatments. The analysis was undertaken for gmelina (Gmelina arborea), this being the most widely grown tree species in Leyte smallholder forestry.
Based on the characterisation of trees and timber on existing smallholder woodlots, it was found that most of the timber produced in smallholder gmelina woodlots on Leyte Island canbe classified as short timber boardsand fuelwood. Timber yield modelling and financial modelling predicted that woodlots with improve silviculture would have a higher volume of high-value timber, i.e. suitable for construction and high-quality furniture making, and that the LEV of woodlots with improved silviculture would be higher.
Sawing trials revealed that the sawn timber recovery rate of mini-bandsawmills is significantly higher than that for chainsaw milling, which is widely practiced in Leyte. Transhipment modelling indicates that the optimal milling option of smallholder timber is mini-bandsaw milling where it is available. The revenue of timber enterprises is also increased with improved smallholder woodlot silviculture. Additionally, due to the shortage of high-value timber (long boards with few defects) on Leyte Island, any increase in volume of these products could be absorbed by the market. An analysis of the supply and demand of smallholder timber indicates a shortage of high-value smallholder timber on Leyte Island in the next five to 10 years based on recent plantings.
Outputs of the research undertaken in this thesis are crucial in planning a smallholder forest industry. The smallholder timber yield model, financial model and transhipment model are important decision tools to understand and plan the timber industry in Leyte. A number of policy implications are generated for improved management of the industry. The financial benefits of improved silviculture treatments to both tree growers and timber enterprises had to be clearly incorporated in extension materials. Policy-makers should also encourage the expansion of mini-bandsaw milling to minimise timber losses brought about by the low sawn timber recovery rate of chainsaw milling. Additionally, policy-makers should encourage investments (both public and private) in the expansion of smallholder forestry to increase domestic lumber production and reduce reliance on imports.
The findings in this thesis are also useful in making smallholder forestry policies and interventions in relation to the National Greening Program (Executive Order 26, 2011) initiated by the Philippine Government which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees within the next four years with poverty alleviation of upland households as one of the goals. Areas of further research include silviculture experiments to enhance smallholder timber yield and financial performance, farm-level portfolio analysis via goal programming and developing a business case for smallholder forestry expansion on Leyte Island.