Forests are important ecosystems that serve as habitats for many terrestrial species and provide vital resources for our social, environmental and economic well- being. The forestry sector also directly and indirectly employs many Filipinos. However, the socio-economic contribution from forest resources has decreased due to massive deforestation in the past two decades (5NR, 2014). In the past five years alone, its contribution decreased from an average of 0.07% from 2003-2008 to an average of 0.04% at current prices from 2009-2013 (NSCB, 2013).
Perhaps, more importantly, forests sequester carbon and serve as a natural defense and protection against disasters brought about by landslides and storm surges. It is estimated that the Philippines has 664 million metric tons of carbon stocks in living forest biomass and that, in 2011, the country’s forests sequestered 1.3 percent of the Philippines’ greenhouse gas emissions (Global Forest Watch, n.d.).
Tracking changes in forest cover (from 2003 to 2010 to 2015) provides vital information for improved and more holistic management of forests across all scales of governance. Such knowledge can help spur action, cooperation and collaboration at the national and sub-national levels, as well as at the regional and global levels. Information on stock changes in forest ecosystem services could inform policy and program direction and prioritization, promote creation of new sources of conservation and management funds through payments for ecosystem services, and provide opportunities for private sector investment to complement public sector management.