Members of the Mamanwa indigenous community showcase their native dance during the Mahagnao Volcano Natural Park (MVNP) Outdoor Festival held February 3, 2017, in Brgy. Mahagnao, Burauen, Leyte. The festival, which coincided with the celebration of the park’s declaration as a protected area under the National Integrated Area System or NIPAS Act in 1998, seeks to level up public awareness on the ecological significance of MVNP as it hosts an array of flora and fauna species, including the national bird Philippine eagle. DENR-Region 8 Director Leonardo Sibbaluca (not in photo) calls for the protection and conservation of the rich biodiversity in the area. ###
DENR, local officials lead groundbreaking for NOCWCA marker in Kabankalan City
Officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) led by Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Theresa Mundita Lim and DENR-NIR Director Al Orolfo, together with local officials of Kabankalan City led by Mayor Isidro Zayco led the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a RAMSAR marker for the Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area (NOCWCA) at the Kabankalan City Hall on February 2, coinciding with the global celebration of World Wetlands Day (WWD).
In October 2016, NOCWCA was declared a Ramsar site by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. Stretching 109.52 kilometers, this coastal wetlands conservation area in Negros Occidental straddles 10 local government units, from Bago City down to the municipality of Ilog.
In her keynote speech, Lim underscored the significance of the declaration of NOCWCA as a Ramsar site.
“With the declaration of NOCWCA as a Ramsar site in 2016, it now becomes part of the wetland system of international importance,” Lim said.
She also explained this year’s theme of WWD, Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction, saying that wetlands play a vital role in minimizing the negative impact of climate change.
“Wetlands, NOCWCA included, protect communities from storm surges and rising sea level. Also, when properly managed and continually protected, wetlands could provide sustainable livelihood to fishermen,” she said.
The BMB chief lauded the move of local officials to construct a seven-footer Ramsar marker for NOCWCA as it will serve as a constant reminder of the need to protect the coastline of Negros Occidental because of its local as well as its global significance.
“The Philippines is highly vulnerable to climate change. But because of the wetlands, we are becoming resilient during natural calamities,” she said. According to her, recent studies showed that wetland ecosystem minimize damage during storm surges and rising sea level.
The WWD was first celebrated in 1997 globally, with the goal of raising awareness about the significance of wetlands.
Relatedly, Orolfo announced the recent recognition accorded to NOCWCA as one of the newest "flyway sites" for migratory birds in the East-Asian Australasian Flyway (EAAF) region.
According to him,, the recognition was made during the 9th meeting of the EAAF Partnership held in Singapore on January 11-15.
EAAF is one of the nine major migratory waterbird flyways in the world and is home to over 50 million migratory waterbirds --including shorebirds, Anatidae (ducks, geese and swans), cranes, and seabirds (for example divers, cormorants, gulls, shearwaters, and auks) -- from over 250 different populations.
"This recognition and certification is another output achieved through common effort of all stakeholders," Orolfo said. “Starting as a community initiative, the NOCWCA is now an internationally-recognized local conservation area which the national government, through the DENR-NIR, fully supports and recognizes.”
The wetlands serve as one of the important sites for migrating shorebirds that breed from northern Asia and Alaska, and spend the non-breeding season in Southeast Asia and Austral-Asia.
Some 73 species of water birds such as Sterna albifrons (Little tern), Dedrocygna arcuata (Wandering whistling duck), and the Egretta garzetta (Little egret) are found in NOCWCA.
Five globally threatened species, including the Calidristenuirostris (Great knot), Egretta eulophotes (Chinese egret), Numenius madagascariensis (Far eastern curlew), Numeniusarquata (Eurasian curlew), and the Tringa guttifer (Spotted greenshank or Nordman's) can also be found at the newly declared EAAF site.
Two kinds of species, which are nearly globally threatened like the Limosa limosa (Black-tailed godwit) and the Limnodromussemipalmatus (Asiatic dowitcher), are also found in this idyllic paradise.
“With federalism as a vehicle for the new vision for the advancement of country’s sustainable development, the NOCWCA experience shows that local empowerment with strong support from the national government will work and achieve the common goal of conservation and preservation of our natural habitat both for humanity and biodiversity,” Orolfo said.
With the new declaration, NOCWCA joins with the other sites in the Philippines that were renowned for its international importance in the conservation of migratory waterbirds like the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Naujan Lake Natural Park and Tubbataha Reef Natural Park. ###
DENR halts construction of hydro plants in Negros natural park
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has halted construction of two mini-hydroelectric power plants, which are both located within the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP).
The two power plants, both owned by the German firm Hydrotec Renewables Inc., are situated in Barangay Cabatangan in Talisay City and Barangay Bunga in Don Salvador town in Negros Occidental province.
The cessation order was issued by DENR-Negros Island Regional Director Al Orolfo, based on two separate memorandums from the DENR central office in Quezon City signed by Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio and Director Theresa Mundita Lim of the Biodiversity Management Bureau.
Both Ignacio and Lim said the memorandum of agreement in favor of the two proposed mini hydroelectric power plants within the NNNP "cannot be given due course" for violating Republic Act No. 7586, otherwise known as the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act.
"This is in pursuant to Section 14 (Survey for Energy Resources) of the NIPAS Act, protected areas, except strict nature reserves and natural parks, may be subjected to exploration only for the purpose of gathering information on energy resources and only if such activity is carried out with the least damage to surrounding areas," Orolfo said in his order, quoting the two DENR memorandums.
The order also cited Section 14 of R.A. 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act, which states that "all renewable energy explorations, development, utilization, and renewable energy systems operations shall be conducted in accordance with existing environmental regulations as prescribed by the DENR and/or any other concerned government agency." ###
A WARM WELCOME FOR DENR CHIEF
With warm smiles and a banner, officials and employees of CENRO Brooke’s Point in Palawan welcome the lady boss of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez (center). Lopez flew to Palawan early this month to start off her series of inspection of mining projects in various parts of the country, while also taking that rare opportunity to dialog with DENR field personnel. Also in photo are Brooke’s Point Mayor Jean Feliciano and CENRO Dindo Diaz (to Lopez’ left and right, respectively). ###
CDO flooding not caused by deforestation, says DENR Region 10 office
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 10 office has belied reports that unabated logging and deforestation caused the recent massive flooding in Cagayan de Oro City and other areas in Northern Mindanao.
DENR Region 10 Director Ruth Tawantawan said it was not accurate to blame deforestation for the flooding when the regional office has put in place preventive and corrective measures to keep the region's forests intact, foremost of which is a massive reforestation effort undertaken during the past five years.
"We can proudly say that we are doing well to safeguard our environment and we remain steadfast with our commitment to make the communities happy with our work," Tawantawan said.
Noting that the headwater of Cagayan de Oro City emanates from Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park and Mt. Kalatungan Range Natural Park in Bukidnon, Tawantawan said the province has "very high elevation against the city and the slope is very steep."
"High volume of water will flow rapidly to the cities (Cagayan de Oro and Iligan) during rainfall, thus it is important to have clean and unobstructed waterways," she pointed out.
Tawantawan reported that the DENR 10 was able to rehabilitate over 97,000 hectares of forestlands with close to 80 million seedlings of tree species under the government's National Greening Program from 2011 to 2016.
She said Region 10 remains off the list of areas with illegal logging hotspots due to intensified forest protection campaign initiated by the DENR regional office.
The DENR 10 has mobilized communities and volunteers to help in the said campaign, which resulted in the filing of a total of 60 illegal logging cases in court last year.
The regional office is also in charge of managing 9 priority protected areas, namely: Mt. Kitanglad and Mt. Kalatungan Range Natural Parks in Bukidnon; Mt. Timpoong – Hibok-Hibok Natural Monument in Camiguin; Initao-Libertad Protected Landscape and Seascape; Mt. Balatukan Range Natural Park and Mimbilisan Protected Landscape in Misamis Oriental; Mt. Inayawan Natural Park in Lanao del Norte; and Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park and Baliangao Protected Landscape and Seascape in Misamis Occidental.
The conservation and protection of Cagayan de Oro River Basin is a major concern of the DENR 10, having organized the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council (CDORBMC) in 2010.
One of the active management councils in the country today, CDORBMC is a multi-sectoral group of concerned individuals, agencies and institutions who dedicate themselves in protecting, preserving, rehabilitating and managing the river basin, which has a total land area of 137,934 hectares. ###
DENR 6 to distribute 4,000 land titles this year
Building on the momentum of its successful distribution of land patents last year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Western Visayas has increased its target of distributing land patents to 4,478.
The target will cover residential free patents with 2,728 and agricultural free patents, 1,750.
Of the total residential patents, around 893 will be distributed in Antique, 998 in Iloilo, 406 in Aklan and 150 in Capiz.
Provincial distribution of agricultural free patents, on the other hand, is broken down as follows: Aklan with 700; Antique, 400; Capiz, 200; Iloilo, 300; and Guimaras, 150.
In 2016, the regional office was able to distribute a total of 2, 861 residential patents and 1,181 agricultural patents, thereby exceeding its annual targets by 4 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
“Our goal to provide the legal and rightful beneficiaries their much-deserved land titles has always been an important component of DENR mandate. This is not only to ensure that the country’s land resources are equitably distributed but also in alleviating the plight of our rural communities, particularly the farmers, as they now have all the opportunity and the motivation of introducing improvements in their lands to generate economic gains,” said DENR-Region 6 Director Jim O Sampulna.
The distribution of residential free patents is pursuant to Republic Act 10023, also known as “An Act of Authorizing the Issuance of Free Patents for Residential Lands” while that of agricultural patents is provided for under Commonwealth Act 141 or the Public Land Act, as amended, which aims to promote social justice and industrialization. ###
Laguna stakeholders meet to discuss lake’s integrated development, management
Various stakeholders of the Laguna Lake, including local government units (LGUs), have joined hands with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the rehabilitation of country’s largest lake using the Sustainable Integrated Area Development and Management (SIADM) approach in a 2-day convergence workshop on November 10-11, 2016 at Splash Mountain Resort in Los Baños, Laguna.
"One of the objectives (of this convergence workshop) is not only to plan out what should be done in the local area, but to also be familiar with the direction of the new administration," DENR Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Marlo D. Mendoza said.
Mendoza sought the cooperation of the various stakeholders present during the convergence workshop, such as non-government organizations and LGU representatives, saying that the implementation of SIADM by the DENR “will never succeed unless we work together with other agencies and the private sector".
DENR CALABARZON Regional Director Reynulfo A. Juan explained the SIADM approach as one of key strategies of Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez to attain improved quality of life and sustainable environment, which calls for convergence of different stakeholders in the development and management of the Laguna area.
Laguna de Bay is one of the 29 priority areas in the country for the implementation of the SIADM approach. Its selection was in consonance with President Rodrigo Duterte's instruction to transform the lake "into a vibrant economic zone showcasing ecotourism by addressing the negative impact of the watershed destruction, land conversion and pollution".
The convergence workshop included presentations and lectures on the following: planting and marketing of bamboo and other high-value crops by Dr. Florentino O. Tesoro of Agham Party List; Laguna de Bay Basin master plan by Cesar R. Quintos of the Laguna Lake Development Authority; legal framework for the management of Laguna Lake by Atty. Rolando R. Recto of Tanggol Kalikasan, Inc.; local solutions to waste in the Philippines by Zero Waste Program Manager Shelley S. Carbonel; and guidelines in the implementation of SIADM by Usec Mendoza. ###
COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary for Field Operations Isabelo Montejo leads the signing of the Declaration of Support for the National Implementation of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) as a strategy for achieving sustainable development during the National REDD+ Congress held September 12-15, 2016 in Macrohon, Southern Leyte. ###
RECOGNIZING PNP PARTNERS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
DENR Regional Director Leonardo Sibbaluca proudly presents a Certificate of Commendation to SPO2 Necias C. Bebit, Jr. of the Philippine National Police in Region 8, for his role in various operations relative to the enforcement of environment and natural resources laws and policies. Also in photo is DENRRegion 8 Asst. Director for Technical Services Carlito M. Tuballa. ###
RECOGNIZING PARTNERS IN ENR LAW ENFORCEMENT
DENR-Region 8 Director Leonardo Sibbaluca awards a certificate of commendation to PO3 Reverendo E. Bascos of the Philippine Navy for his outstanding performance on various environment and natural resources law enforcement operations in Eastern Visayas. Also in photo are (from left): DENR Assistant Regional Director (ARD) for Management Services Arturo N. Salazar and ARD for Technical Services Carlito M. Tuballa. ###