Forest Landscape Grants Program: Sierra Madre

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Background and Objectives:

Established in 2002, under two bilateral agreements between the governments of the Republic of the Philippines and United States of America, the Foundation is a non-stock, non-profit, non-government organization providing grants and technical assistance to organizations and individuals that empower the people to protect and conserve the forests.

Under the first tropical forest conservation agreement (TFCA1), US$ 8.2 M was allocated for the protection and conservation of forests from 2002 to 2016. With this, the Foundation was able to support 472 projects, resulting in the restoration of 4,200 hectares of forestlands, improvement of 1.5 million hectares of forestlands, improvement of 40 community-conserved areas, and empowerment of 60 community-level enterprises.

Under the second tropical forest conservation agreement (TFCA2), US$ 32M was allocated for the Foundation’s grantmaking activities from 2017 to 2027. Through its Results Framework 2017-2021, the Foundation was able to support 326 projects, resulting in the restoration of 1,243 hectares of forestlands, improvement of 1 million hectares of forestlands, improvement of 211 community-based organizations, and empowerment of 108 community-level enterprises.

For the next five years, the Foundation continues its mission with a new direction for its strategy. Under the new medium-term strategy, the Results Framework 2023-2027, the Foundation will continue employing a sustainable forest landscape approach. The Foundation and its partners will seek to achieve four immediate outcomes:

  1. Grow Forests: Enhanced forested landscapes that provide multiple ecosystem goods and services;
  2. Grow Opportunities: Improved multi-stakeholder engagement through sustainable livelihoods and incentives;
  3. Grow Partners: Strengthened cross-sectoral partnerships for sustainable forest management; and
  4. Grow Advocates: Enhanced knowledge management and strategic communications.

Under the new medium-term Results Framework, the Foundation will continue employing a sustainable forest landscape approach. Aside from its four focal landscapes, the Foundation will support Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs). 

The Foundation is seeking proposals from qualified individuals and organizations for projects that shall contribute to the protection and sustainable management of the forests for water, land productivity, and biodiversity — with the overarching goal of sustaining ecosystem services and forest-related climate action in the landscape of Sierra Madre in Luzon.

Geographic Scope and Objectives:

Dubbed the “backbone of Luzon,” the Sierra Madre Mountain Range serves not only as a sanctuary for diverse flora and fauna but also as the Philippines’ strongest defense from typhoons coming in from the Pacific Ocean. It is also home to multiple critical watersheds for water sufficiency and flood mitigation. Despite its ecological and economic significance, Sierra Madre is faced with anthropogenic and natural disturbances. Anthropogenic disturbances include commercial logging operations in the past, the conversion of forests to farms, forest fires, utilization of forest and mineral resources, development projects such as roads and dams and the increasing population (both local and migrants). On one hand, natural disturbances such as extreme weather events such as strong typhoons and chronic heat waves. These disturbances contribute to continued decline of forest cover, which result in flooding, landslides, and forest fires – leading to degradation of water sources,  destruction of livelihoods, worsening food security, and loss of biodiversity. 

Under the Results Framework 2017-2021, the Foundation supported assessments (forest, socio-cultural, livelihoods, organizational), land cover mapping, formulation of conservation plan, training and equipping forest guards for forest and biodiversity monitoring, fire management, nursery operations, reforestation, livelihood-related training, enterprise development planning, organizational capacity building for communities and local organizations.

In the next four years, the Foundation will continue its support to the forested landscapes of Sierra Madre. Priority projects that will be supported under the Results Framework 2023-2027 will include watershed  and critical habitat management  for sustained ecosystem services.

Geographically, the Foundation’s grant and technical assistance will prioritize the forested landscapes of the following provinces and municipalities:

  • Upper / Northern Sierra Madre:
    • Aurora (Casiguran, Dilasag, Dinalungan, Dipaculao, Maria Aurora, San Luis); 
    • Isabela (municipalities covering the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park); and 
    • Quirino (Nagtipunan, Maddela, Diffun)
  • Lower / Southern Sierra Madre:
    • Bulacan (Norzagaray; San Jose Del Monte; Doña Remedios Trinidad); 
    • Laguna (Sta. Maria);
    • Nueva Ecija (Gen Tinio; Gabaldon, Bongabong); 
    • Quezon (Gen. Nakar, Real, Infanta); and 
    • Rizal (Tanay, Antipolo City, Rodriguez)

Eligible Projects:

Proposed projects shall contribute to the protection and sustainable management of Philippine forests for water, land, and biodiversity – with the overarching goal of enhancing ecosystem services and forest-related climate action.

The Results Framework 2023-2027 emphasizes collective and transformative actions among all stakeholders to protect and conserve the forests, while addressing the climate crisis. Project outputs should directly contribute to the four outcomes as defined in the Results Framework for 2023-2027, as guided by the sustainable forest landscape approach. 

Enhanced forested landscapes that provide multiple ecosystem goods and services

Improved multi-stakeholder engagement through sustainable livelihoods and incentives

Strengthened cross-sectoral partnerships for sustainable forest management

Enhanced knowledge management and strategic communications

The following activities are eligible for fund support:

  1. GROW FORESTS. Enhanced forested landscapes that provide multiple ecosystem goods and services
Scientifically-sound forest ecosystem assessments Science-based transdisciplinary assessments to help stakeholders have a holistic understanding of the status and prospects of forest resources in the four focal landscapes, which may include, but not limited to:
– Mapping to determine project boundaries, land cover, and resources, among others
– Biodiversity assessment, including population survey of threatened forest species
– Change detection analysisForest conditions
– Ecosystem services e.g. water, carbon stocks, and cultural and ecotourism potential
– Climate change vulnerability and risks
Participatory planning and mapping of forests Mapping of forest management zones in the four focal landscapes, which may include, but not limited to:
– Multi-sectoral approaches in developing, updating, and harmonizing forest management plans
– Incorporating indigenous knowledge systems and practices (IKSP), climate-smart options, and other relevant information as mandated by appropriate agencies. 
Participatory, threat-based, and multisectoral forest protection and management Protection and improved management of the remaining expanse of natural forest ecosystems within the four focal landscapes, which may include, but not limited to:
– Participatory identification of threats to forests, as well as planning and implementation of appropriate actions to deal with such threats
– Establishment of appropriate boundary markers to prevent further encroachment of natural forest blocks
– Development and implementation of forest patrolling, monitoring, and capacity building of Bantay Gubat
– Improving forest fire managementImproving forest law enforcement 
Science-based and participatory reforestation, restoration, and enhancement of appropriate management zone Approaches to forest restoration, which may include, but not limited to:
– Using native species to restore protection zones and watershed headwaters and improve forest ecosystem services
– Employing agroforestry approaches to restore production zones
– Encouraging the use of native species, fruit-bearing trees, non-timber forest products, and high-value crops to boost community livelihoods
– Using appropriate site-species matching to restore degraded mangroves, beach forests, and abandoned fishponds. 
OECMs identified and recognized Identification and recognition of other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) for biodiversity conservation outside protected areas. This can include characterization and assessment, development and/or updating of management plans, adoption and/or declaration of local government units, and reporting of OECMs.  
Sustainability measures Monitoring of sustainability plans and key results as projects progress. This will also include an evaluation of limiting factors that could affect the delivery of outcomes. Endline studies will be conducted to assess each project’s impact on the biophysical character of the focal landscapes. 
  1. GROW OPPORTUNITIES. Improved multi-stakeholder engagement through sustainable livelihoods and incentives
Participatory action research and analysis of sustainable livelihoods Holistic assessments of the current assets, opportunities, trends, and limitations that could affect community livelihoods and/or enterprises. The data will be used to determine how stakeholders can pursue livelihood strategies and community-based enterprises that follow sustainable forest management practices. 
Consultative and multiple-level value-chain analysis, as well as commodity and product scanning, will also be conducted to ensure that community livelihoods and enterprises are market-oriented.
Enhanced community livelihoods and enterprises Identification of sustainable commodities, product development, and diversification of livelihoods to improve the quantity, quality, and value of forest assets, while also managing and protecting forest lands. This will include, but not limited to:
– Resources inventory for business planning
– Helping communities to link with mandated government agencies, comply with regulations and standards, develop benefit-sharing mechanisms, and facilitate access to other funds and safety nets
– Enhancing stakeholders’ capacities for budgeting, planning, financial management, and resource base enhancement.
– Training, mentoring, and peer-to-peer learning to build communities’ entrepreneurial capacities and nurture a culture of innovation.
Livelihood interventions sustainedMarket-linkage and private sector partnerships to ensure that buyers get access to a wide range of product options, including the following, but not limited to:
– Facilitating joint learning opportunities and social capital building among partners, government, academe, and other stakeholders. This  will help inform policy and practice on sustainable livelihood strategies for protecting forests.Implementing and monitoring business plans.
– Capacity building and enhancement to ensure business continuity.
– Endline studies to assess changes in stakeholders’ income, well-being, resource use, and attitudes and practices toward sustainable forest management. 
Nature-based solutions on forests are piloted and operationalizedNature-based solutions to build climate resilience and mitigate the climate change crisis, including, but not limited to:
– Strengthening the capacities and readiness of stakeholders to enter into NbS engagements.Increasing the adaptive capacities of communities and stakeholders.
– Facilitating discussions among the government, communities, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to further policy recommendations and best practices that will advance NbS not only in the four focal landscapes but also at the national level.
  1. GROW PARTNERS. Strengthened cross-sectoral partnerships for sustainable forest management
Needs-based, community-based capacity development of the communities Capacity building, strengthening, and updating of forest-dependent communities,  This will include:
– Needs and gaps assessment to inform the development and implementation of capacity-building activities. 
– Natural resources management, including paralegal training, tenure, and legal rights.
– Organizational development, including leadership, strengthening of community organizations and indigenous political structures (IPS), and compliance with government requirements, regulations, and standards.
– Project management, including financial management and reporting. 
– Strengthening IPs’ participation in local governance processes. 
Appropriate forest management bodies and frameworks Participatory planning and project implementation, through the following activities, but not limited to: 
– Partnering with the government, academic institutions, and development agencies to bridge constraints in information and knowledge management.
– Developing frameworks and tools for capacity building.Innovating hybrid platforms to ensure programs continue amidst the changing socio-political environment.
– Formulating, updating, and climate-proofing of community-based forest management frameworks and plans.
– Strengthening institutional arrangements.Formation of local councils and/or management boards.
– Co-development and updating of resource management plans and frameworks.Fostering local reforms.
– Adoption of management plans.
– Affirmation of institutional accountabilities. 
Development of enabling policies that promote sustainable forest management at the national level Enabling  active participation and collaboration among stakeholders and partners to help shape and articulate the national forestry program and policy agenda. Activities will include, but not limited to:
– Generating science-based evidence to inform policies.Strengthening the capacities of professionals and practitioners of sustainable forest management.
– Creating platforms for the participation of CSOs in policy discourse. 
– Providing strategic support to the development of national mechanisms (e.g. pre- and post-COP meetings), in line with the country’s commitments to multilateral environmental agreements such as the UNFF, CBD, and UNFCCC, among others. 
– Identifying sustainable financing options (e.g. NbS, endowment funds) for closing the climate financing gap, and ensuring that such resources will reach the forest-dependent communities.
Institutional and multi-sectoral linkages facilitated and acceleratedOrganizational partnerships at various levels — national, regional, and international — to carry out sustainable forest management practices despite the challenges that may happen on the ground:
– Exploring and entering into international and regional partnerships to further enrich knowledge acquisition and information sharing.
– Learning and insights from international development and cooperation will be shared with local communities.
– Enabling national-level partnerships to advance sustainable forest management policies and programs.
– Sustaining initial collaborations with the academe, professional groups, and caucus of organizations that can extend technical assistance and support capacity development.
– Facilitating partnerships and promoting linkages between communities and the business sector to co-finance NbS. Projects will focus on investments in natural ecosystems and addressing the impacts of climate change.
  1. GROW ADVOCATES. Enhanced knowledge management and strategic communications
KM frameworks developed and sustained in the four focal landscapes
Assessments of the knowledge needs, attitudes, and practices (KAP) of forest-dependent communities, including but not limited to:
– Mapping of stakeholders
– Using insights from the assessments to develop KM frameworks in focal landscapes
– Building the capacities of shareholders for managing knowledge, including capturing lessons, sharing knowledge, and using data to inform decision-making processes and policies
Knowledge on forests and forest ecosystems services and products co-created, shared, and managedKnowledge co-creation through transdisciplinary research and policy co-development. Data and insights will be used to improve landscape decision-making processes. Activities and projects will include:
– Multi-stakeholder dialogues and sharing of action-oriented research results through traditional, creative, and innovative science communication approaches (e.g. conferences and GIS-based story maps)
– Documentation of learnings and experiences of stakeholders on sustainable forest management
– Sharing of local ecological knowledgeGeneration of local knowledge products.
– Providing scholarships, practicum support, and thesis or dissertation grants to students and professionals (especially women and youth) working on forestry and its associated fields
– Enabling research and education platforms that integrate inclusive forest governance and climate action
Active involvement of the wider public in forest protection and sustainable forest management-related activities 
Strategic communication initiatives and programs to engage the wider public — creatives, professional associations, business associations, and religious groups — and encourage more people to be advocates for sustainable forest management. Activities and projects will include, but not limited to:
– IEC campaigns, public engagement programs, creative projects (e.g. games, podcasts, hackathons, theater productions, and other traditional and new media art forms), and citizen science programs
– Measuring, evaluating, and optimizing stakeholder engagement programs to increase participation and build a stronger constituency of advocates

Eligible Recipients:

Entities involved in development, education, research, livelihood and forestry are encouraged to apply. This includes:

  1. Non-governmental, peoples, indigenous peoples, professional, socio-civic and community organizations;
  2. Other appropriate local or regional entities active in the Philippines; and
  3. Individuals (researchers, social entrepreneurs, among others).

Priority will be given to entities that can operate and work with the local communities in the priority geographic scope. Proponents who had prior grants from the Foundation may apply for another funding under the new Results Framework for projects that will be scaled-up, expanded, and/or replicated.  Project implementation can be done through integrated projects by one Civil Society Organization (CSO), several CSOs in a consortium agreeing to perform or achieve particular outputs in support of common project outcomes. 

Funding Allocation and Grant Categories:

For 2023-2027, the Foundation is planning to allocate approximately Php 80 Million of total Forest Landscape Grants from the Second Tropical Forest Conservation Fund (TFCF II) for projects in the forested landscapes of Sierra Madre.

The grant will support eligible activities that can be implemented up to a maximum of four years, depending on the project components and activities necessary to achieve the expected outcomes as stated in the Forest Foundation Results Framework 2023-2027. Projects should be at levels commensurate with achieving measurable impact on large landscapes while maintaining accountability and efficacy.

The categories of the grants are listed below:

  • Small Grants – up to Php 500,000 of direct project activity cost, to be immediately implemented and completed within a year. Projects may include (but not limited to) nursery establishment and management, stakeholder consultation meetings and conferences, among others. 
  • Medium Grants – up to Php 6M of total project cost, to be implemented in a minimum of one year up to a maximum of three years. Projects under this grant category shall deliver specific output or outputs as stated in the Foundation’s Results Framework. Medium grants may include (but not limited to) assessments, applied research (based on the results and/or recommendations of the conducted assessments), mangrove restoration/protection, sustainable enterprise development consistent with the manner of protecting the forests, establishment and management of critical habitats and/or community conservation areas, among others.
  • Large Grants – up to Php 24 M of total project cost, and shall deliver multiple project outputs that will contribute to ALL of the four expected outcomes in the Foundation’s Results Framework. 

Project proposals may be linked with other past and/or existing projects and/or programs within the landscapes to establish a more participatory and coordinated strategy on forested landscapes restoration and ecosystem restoration. Counterpart funding from the proponent, partners, and other donor institutions and projects /programs is highly encouraged.


For the general requirements for submitting Large and Medium Grants categories, see Table 1 below for the requirements for submission. Proposals under the Small Grant category may submit directly to the Forest Foundation’s grant portal (see details below).

Table 1. Requirements for submission to access Medium and Large Grant categories.

The Concept Note template can be downloaded here. Concept Notes must clearly provide information on its link with relevant management and/or development plans/frameworks (e.g. CRMF for areas with CBFMAs, Protected Area management plan, and/or ADSDPP or CDP). Proposed project interventions must clearly address identified needs and threats to the forest and the associated ecosystem services. Concept Notes shall be submitted to [email protected]. Please refer to the Timeline Section below for important dates and other requirements. 

Upon determination of the merit of the Concept Note, the Proponent may be invited to submit a full proposal upon determination of the concept’s merit. Proponents that will be eligible for submission of full proposals under Large and/or Medium Grants shall include detailed activity and budget plan for the first year; and indicative activity and budget plan for the succeeding years. Large Landscape Grants proposals shall have a clear phase-out/sustainability plan.

Eligible entities must send their full proposals through


For project proposals that are aiming for implementation by the fourth quarter of 2023  to first quarter of  2024, please take note of the timeline in Table 2 below. 

Entities who would like to enhance and strengthen their proposals are encouraged to join project development workshops. A maximum of two representatives per Concept Note (preferably the project leader and/or community leader) may participate in the workshop. Participants are encouraged to prepare a short talk or presentation on the Concept Note during the workshop.

Due to the bulk of project proposals and inquiries received by the Foundation, registration for the Project Development Workshop is required to secure a time slot and receive the final program arrangements. Please register using this link.

Table 2. Timeline of activities for Sierra Madre focal landscape.

Check the Foundation’s website ( and Facebook page ( for updates. Note that submissions beyond the deadline shall be considered based on the availability of funds. Interested entities outside the above provinces but are interested to implement a project in Sierra Madre may request for individual consultations, as well. 

Proposal Evaluation:

The selection of projects for funding is a competitive process. The proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  1. Design – Are the objectives, methods, and outcomes coherent?
  2. Capacity – Can the proponents successfully implement the project?
  3. Impact – To what extent will the project contribute to forest restoration and ecosystem recovery?
  4. Relevance – How relevant is the project to the target group and community?
  5. Efficiency – Will the project be implemented in a timely and cost-effective manner?

The process of proposal evaluation may include visit to the proposed project sites, including validation/confirmation with the project partner community/ies and selected stakeholders.

More Information:

Should you have additional questions or concerns, please contact us via phone at (+63 2) 8891 0595 and (+63 2) 8864 0287, or e-mail at [email protected].