Regulating the Quality of Seedlings for Forest Restoration: Lessons from the National Greening Program in the Philippines
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The use of low quality planting material is one of the major reasons for the limited success of past reforestation programs in the Philippines and elsewhere in the tropics. In the Philippines, a national policy has been in place since 2010, which regulates the quality of seedlings. As part of the policy, government reforestation programs are required to use only high quality seedlings from accredited seedling suppliers. A survey of nurseries producing seedlings for the National Greening Program in Eastern Visayas and Northern Mindanao regions was carried out to determine the effectiveness and challenges in implementing the forest nursery accreditation policy. The survey identified factors that limit the effectiveness of seedling quality regulation including lack of auditing of seedling quality in accredited nurseries, insufficient monitoring of the seedling supply chain among the network of nurseries supplying seedlings for reforestation programs, inadequate seedling production schedules, and inappropriate criteria for seedling quality assessment. The limited sources of high quality germplasm, nursery operators’ limited information on the attributes of high quality planting materials and lack of knowledge about high quality seedling production technologies contributed to the widespread production of low quality seedlings. The lack of seedling quality checks makes the government’s bidding scheme of seedling purchases prone to favouring the proliferation of low quality seedlings that are usually sold at lower prices. Nursery accreditation represents a major initiative in promoting the success of Philippine reforestation but our study found that considerable improvement of the policy and of its implementation is necessary. From our study, key lessons can be learned for the implementation of forest landscape restoration initiatives in other tropical developing countries.