Improving the triple bottom line returns from smallholder tree farms in the Philippines: a systems approach

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Herbohn, JL, Harrison, SR, Mangaoang, EO, Gregorio, Cedamon, ED, Russell, L & Vanclay, JR 2007, 'Improving the triple bottom line returns from smallholder tree farms in the Philippines: a systems approach', in SR Harrison, A Bosch & JL Herbohn (eds), Improving the triple bottom line returns from small-scale forestry: Proceedings from an International Conference, Ormoc, the Philippines, 18-21 June, University of Queensland, Gatton, Qld., pp. 205-214.


This paper outlines the application of Systems Thinking in investigating ways to improve the returns to smallholder tree farmers in the Philippines. The paper illustrates how a systems approach was used in the conceptualisation of the project and how systems thinking facilitated a shared understanding of the how each individual’s research contributed to the broader project activities. Systems Thinking has also been used in the design and implementation of various project activities. Three examples are provided. The first example illustrates how a systems diagram was developed which outlined the direct and indirect linkages between biophysical data on tree farms and various activities designed to increase returns. The second example illustrates how the suggested approach for improving the flow of information concerning tree registration, harvest and transportation regulations and approval mechanisms link with various project activities and have been informed by a series of action research workshops. The third example illustrates how systems thinking has also been applied to understand the factors affecting the production of high quality tree seedlings and to investigate the effect of policy interventions on improving the quality of seedlings available to smallholders.