Small-scale Forestry

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 83–102 | Cite as

Regulating the Quality of Seedlings for Forest Restoration: Lessons from the National Greening Program in the Philippines

  • Nestor Gregorio
  • John Herbohn
  • Steve Harrison
  • Arturo Pasa
  • Angela Ferraren
Research Paper


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.


Nursery accreditation Reforestation policy Seedling morphology Planting stock Forest landscape restoration FLR Forest restoration Seedling quality 



The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) through the project ASEM/2011/050 Improving Watershed Rehabilitation Outcomes Using a Systems Approach (known locally as the Watershed Rehabilitation Project) and the collaboration of local and regional officials of the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Regions 8 and 10 in undertaking the survey. The authors are also indebted to the nursery operators for providing crucial information during the interviews and allowing the authors to carry out destructive sampling of their seedlings without cost.


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Copyright information

© Steve Harrison, John Herbohn 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tropical Forests and People Research CentreUniversity of the Sunshine CoastMaroochydore DCAustralia
  2. 2.School of Agriculture and Food SciencesThe University of QueenslandSt. Lucia, BrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.ACIAR Smallholder Forestry ProjectVisayas State UniversityBaybay CityPhilippines

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