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Water is the natural resource that man and all other living creatures cannot do without. In fact, it is one thing scientists look for in other planets to confirm possible sources of life. For us humans, it is so important that in 1995, World Bank Vice President Ismail Serageldin said that “the wars of the next century would be fought over water” and not oil.

Unfortunately, water is also one resource that we always take for granted and end up wasting through inefficient use and pollution.

To make matters worse, what precious supply we have in our reservoirs and aquifers is now threatened by less rainfall as a result of the occurrence of a strong El Niño phenomenon which is expected to hit the Philippines by October 2015 until the first quarter of 2016. To ensure that there is enough for everyone’s needs, water distribution is already being interrupted or rationed in several parts of Metro Manila and surrounding areas.

A shortage in water supply not only leads to less water for us to use for our domestic needs, but also threatens food production and energy supply. Angat Dam in Bulacan, for example, provides almost 97% of Metro Manila’s domestic, municipal and industrial water requirements, as well as 27,000 hectares of rice farms in Bulacan and Pampanga. It is also utilized to generate 246 megawatts of electricity.

It is therefore important for each of us to do what we can to ensure that we do not deplete this supply. By learning to use water prudently and efficiently, not only during El Niño but as part of our lifestyle,

• we save up on water expenses;
• we show generosity in ensuring that everyone gets a fair share of the supply; and
• we learn to consider water as a precious resource.

As Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has said: “Make water conservation a habit, and adopt a lifestyle that would have less negative impact on our precious water supply.”

Here are simple reminders on how we can sustain our water supply. But of course, these are not all that we can do. If you have more to add or would like to share with us some of the best practices in water conservation, please do not hesitate to email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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A s the Aquino administration enters its final year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) finds it necessary to look back on some of its achievements in terms of environmental protection.

DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said that while the agency has made positive progress during the past five years, much more still needs to be done to protect the environment and make communities more resilient to climate change.

“Measures taken in the past years have led to improvements in many areas, such as forest rehabilitation and climate change mitigation. However, urbanization continue to claim more land, biodiversity is on the decline and economic development threatens the environment,” Paje pointed out.

Amid these challenges, he said the DENR has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to protecting the environment in the last five years and will continue doing so in the years ahead.

Paje said the government’s groundbreaking environmental programs were also designed to achieve poverty reduction, human resource development and food security.

 

National Greening Program

ngp accomplishment-webForemost among these programs is the National Greening Program (NGP), which seeks to cover 1.5 million hectares with 1.5 billion trees for six years from 2011 to 2016, making it the biggest reforestation program in Philippine history.

“That is 86 percent more than the reforestation efforts of the country in the past 25 years!” Paje exclaimed. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is the lead agency in the implementation of the NGP.

Apart from being a reforestation initiative, the NGP is also seen as a climate change mitigation strategy as it seeks to enhance the country’s forest stock to absorb carbon dioxide, which is largely blamed for global warming.

The program is also intended to reduce poverty, providing alternative livelihood initiatives for marginalized upland and lowland households relating to seedling production, and care and maintenance of newly planted seedlings.

The DENR had exceeded the combined target of 900,000 hectares from 2011 to 2014 by 13 percent with 1,017,783 hectares already planted with 603,184,352 seedlings or an average of 593 seedlings per hectare. From January 1 to July 20 this year, 43,503 hectares have already been planted with 34,612,583 seedlings.

“To date, forest cover has increased from 6.8 million hectares to 7.86 million hectares after four years of intensive reforestation activities, through the active participation of various government agencies, the private sector, upland and coastal communities, and other stakeholders,” Paje said.

He said a total of 2,379,773 jobs have been generated through the NGP, benefitting some 342,045 individuals.

 

Total log ban

EO23 strict implementation-web2The Aquino administration is also credited for the protection of the country’s remaining forest cover with its imposition of the total log ban on natural and residual forests. The ban resulted in significant reduction of illegal logging hotspots to 23 from 197 in 2010.

With the support of law enforcement agencies, the DENR confiscated more than 30.7 million board-feet of illegally cut and processed logs and forest products nationwide. A total of 1,549 cases were filed against the violators, with 202 persons convicted.

Out of the confiscated logs and lumber, a total of 146,471 school armchairs and furniture were made and donated to the Department of Education.

 

Geohazard Assessment and Mapping

Geo hazard mapping-webPaje said that addressing climate change would be one of the “crowning achievements” of the Aquino administration.

He said that the administration – through the DENR – has put in place adequate, long-term measures to counter the effects of climate change, which benefits can come well beyond 2016.

“We have very focused programs being implemented by the government like the nationwide geohazard mapping and the massive restoration of watersheds, which serve as the country’s natural defense against environmental impacts caused by climate change,” Paje explained.

The DENR chief said that geohazard maps, which indicate areas susceptible to landslide and floods, could spare the government further losses and expensive rehabilitation works that may be brought about by natural disasters and poor geologic planning.

He said the detailed assessment and mapping of the entire country, including cities and municipalities within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was completed in 2014. Detailed geohazard maps with a scale of 1:10,000 of all cities and municipalities in the country are being finally formatted and downloaded in the DENR website for seamless viewing and easy access by the public.

The DENR, he added, also completed geohazards assessment and mapping of all 171 cities and towns affected by Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013. The post-disaster assessment was undertaken to assist the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery for its settlement projects.

 

Cadastral Survey

Cadastral survey-webThe Aquino administration had also shown its deep commitment to address land title issues, which impede the distribution of the remaining Land Acquisition and Distribution balance, through the completion of the century-old Cadastral Survey Program.

The program started way back in 1913 with the enactment of the Commonwealth Act No. 2259, or the Cadastral Act. From 1913 to 2009 or a period of 96 years, only 46 percent of the nation’s cities and municipalities have been surveyed.

The completion of the program became possible with the substantial funding provided by the Aquino administration. As of July 21, 2015, the DENR has completed the cadastral survey of 1,634 cities and municipalities nationwide.

 

Clean Air

Clean Air tsp pm10-webSeveral initiatives to address air pollution in Metro Manila were undertaken in partnership with LGUs, the Coalition of Clean Air Advocates, the Philippine Medical Association, ABS-CBN, the private sector, civil society and media groups.

Pollution level in terms of total suspended particulate (TSP) concentration in Metro Manila was reduced by 28%, i.e., from 166 ug/Ncm in January-June 2010 to 120 ug/Ncm in January-June 2015. These values though exceed the standard of 90 ug/Ncm.

PM10 or particulate matter 10 decreased by 31%, i.e., 85 ug.Ncm in January-June 2011 to 59 ug/Ncm in January-June 2015. The July-December 2014 was 52 ug/Ncm which passed the international standard of 60 ug/Ncm.

The DENR, through the EMB, continuously coordinates with the DOE and other stakeholders to ensure the smooth implementation of DAO 2015-04 mandating the shift from Euro 2 to Euro 4 emission and fuel standard, which reduces sulphur content of fuel from 500 ppm to 50 ppm.

 

 

Protected Area Management and Biodivesity Conservation

PAs-webThe Aquino administration also succeeded in passing a landmark legislation aimed at strengthening protected area management and biodiversity conservation.

The President, on Sept. 26, 2013, approved RA 10629 that provides for the retention by the Protected Area Management Board of 75 percent of the revenues accruing to the Integrated Protected Areas Fund.

Considered as a new milestone in the management of protected areas, the law was a big boost to the efforts of promoting ecotourism in the country as it allows reinvesting of 75 percent of all revenues generated by a protected area to activities deemed necessary to protect and rehabilitate areas widely regarded as one of the most successful measures implemented for the conservation of biodiversity.

 

Wide public recognition

Good governance-webThe government’s environmental protection efforts did not go unnoticed by the public as shown by the results of Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations (SWS) surveys.

The SWS surveys in 2014 showed that Filipinos believe the Aquino administration is doing a good job of protecting the country’s environment. Government performance in environmental protection got the highest rating among 17 specific issues rated by the public in its June 2014 survey.

It showed that 65 percent of the 1,200 respondents nationwide were satisfied with the national administration’s environmental performance on protecting the environment, giving a net approval rating of “good.”

Succeeding surveys conducted in November and December 2014 gave the government “good” ratings in preparing for climate change.

In Pulse Asia’s March 1-7, 2015 survey, 48 percent of the respondents approved of the national administration’s environmental performance, against 22 percent who disapproved, for a net approval rating of 26 percent. The 48 percent approval rating is a significant improvement over the 45 percent posted in the November 2014 survey of Pulse Asia.

 

Beyond 2016

While the government has made significant progress, the DENR recognizes that much work remains to be done.

To sustain the benefits and ecosystem services derived from the various programs and projects it is implementing, the DENR vows to continue strengthening the capacities of natural ecosystems to improve the country’s resilience against the negative effects of climate change and natural disasters.

With the help of its partner organizations in the public and private sectors, the DENR will continue to direct its efforts on achieving sustainable use of resources, equitable access and benefit-sharing.

The department is also committed to contribute to socio-economic growth through environmentally responsive mining, wealth creation from biodiversity, competitive forest industry, and vibrant ecotourism industry.

It will likewise work toward improved environmental quality through promotion of green technology and environmentally compliant industry and sectors. ### 

 

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