DENR pushes for nationwide forest conservation to reduce climate change impacts

Following the concurrence of the Senate of the Philippines to the ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on March 14, the Forest Management Bureau (FMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in cooperation with the German Government’s Environment Ministry, is pushing for the nationwide implementation of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) strategy to help reduce impacts of climate change by protecting and sustainably managing the country’s forests.

The DENR-FMB and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the German government’s international development cooperation agency, have been working together for the sustainable management of forests through the joint project “Preparation of a National REDD+ Mechanism for Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Conservation of Biodiversity in the Philippines” (National REDD+ System Philippines). The project helped create a national framework for REDD+, considering ecological, social and governance safeguards.

The REDD+ strategy contributes to the conservation of forests to meet 40% of the 70% carbon emission reductions that the Philippines committed to during/ shortly after the Paris UN climate conference in 2015. Forest conservation also ensures the sustainable provisions of other ecosystem services such as food and water.

Trees sequester carbon from the atmosphere, which greatly contributes to reducing the global temperature. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identified the global forestry sector in 2007 as the second leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, after the energy sector, and as responsible for approximately 17% of emissions, largely due to deforestation.

Through their joint work, GIZ and FMB generated a reduction and removal of approximately 467,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission in the three project sites in Albay, Eastern Samar and Davao Oriental through co-management and tenure arrangements with local communities and indigenous people groups for long-term forest conservation which are integrated in forest land use plan (FLUP) covering 366,407 hectares of forest areas.

24.3 million PHP were awarded through 18 contracts with local partners such as local government units, academe and the Philippine Eagle Foundation to support forest conservation activities. FMB and GIZ are organizing the REDD+ project closing event on April 7 in Pasig City to stimulate support for sustaining the project’s achievements and for the issuance of appropriate laws and policies for the country’s full REDD+ implementation.

The National REDD+ System Philippines Project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). The project started in November 2012 and runs until April 2017. ### 

DENR backs accounting of PH's natural resources

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is pushing for an honest-to-goodness natural resource and environmental accounting system to enable the agency come up with specific policies and programs consistent with the sustainable integrated area development (SIAD) approach.

DENR Undersecretary for International Affairs and Foreign-assisted Programs Jonas Leones defines SIAD as a strategy that "weaves environmental considerations with social justice and human development," examples of which are ecotourism and agroforestry.

Through SIAD, the DENR will create "mini-economic zones" that can generate employment, livelihood and income-generating activities in communities where they operate, making it a way better alternative to destructive mining.

"At the DENR, we endeavor to achieve social justice by ensuring the integrity of our ecosystems on which local communities depend for food and livelihood," Leones said.

Leones also said it is about time "we account and minimize the depletion of our wealth, especially when it does not benefit our people."

The environment official issued the statement as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) held last week a two-day national conference on National Capital Accounting (NCA), which served as the culminating activity of the World Bank-funded Philippine Wealth Accounting for the Valuation of Ecosystems Services or Phil-WAVES project.

With the theme "Accounting Nature, Capitalizing Partnerships for the Future," the NCA conference was held at the Hotel Marco Polo Ortigas in Pasig City from March 30 to 31.

The conference came amid a government campaign against irresponsible mining, highlighted by an industry-wide audit that resulted in the closure of 22 mining operations and suspension of four others due to serious environmental violations.

According to Leones, the forum served as an opportunity for the DENR to promote SIAD through "providing a deeper appreciation and understanding of taking into account the value of our natural resources."

At the same time, Leones said the implementation of Phil-WAVES would enable policymakers to come up with informed policies based on generated data regarding the monetary values of natural capital and ecosystem services.


Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia welcomed the heads and representatives of various departments and partner agencies to the conference designed to stir greater interest on NCA and mainstream it in the development agenda of the government.

NCA is the process of calculating the total stocks and flows of natural resources and services in a given ecosystem or region. The accounting for such goods may occur in physical or monetary terms.

This process can subsequently inform government, corporate and consumer decision-making as each relates to the use or consumption of natural resources and land, and sustainable behavior.

The Philippines is one of the eight countries implementing WAVES, a global partnership that aims to promote sustainable development by ensuring that natural resources are mainstreamed in development planning and national economic accounts.

Other countries implementing the project are Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia, Madagascar and Rwanda. ### 

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