Cimatu lauds Okada, other establishments, for dropping their “balloon drop/release” events

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu today lauded the decision of various establishments in the country, including Okada Manila, for dropping their “balloon drop or release” activities to highlight their New Year’s eve celebrations.

“It is, indeed, laudable on the part of the various establishments to voluntarily cancel their “balloon drop or release” activities in the name of environmental protection,” Cimatu said upon learning that Okada Manila has cancelled its world record attempt for the largest number of balloons dropped which was originally scheduled for New Year's eve.

At the same time, the DENR chief called on the public to refrain from lighting firecrackers and pyrotechnics in their houses, and instead enjoy the fireworks display in their respective communities, to reduce air pollution generated by these activities.

Air pollution impacts not only on the environment, but also on the health of the people, particularly on our children and our senior citizens, Cimatu said.

Cimatu said Okada’s decision to finally cancel its attempt at a world-record sets a precedent that is worth emulating not only by other establishments in this country, but also in other parts of the world.

Aside from Okada, other establishments reported to have cancelled their “balloon drop/release” events include The Peninsula Manila; Crimson Hotel Filinvest City, Manila; Venue 88 in General Santos City; and Davao Bamboo Sanctuary and Ecological Park.

In their respective websites/FBs, said establishments announced the cancellation of their balloon drop/release in support of DENR’s environmental protection programs.

“It is with much gratitude that they listened not only to our request, but also to the call of our people, to be mindful of the impact of their activities on the environment,” Cimatu said. “Now, more than ever, I am convinced that this nation has become truly conscious and protective of our environment.”

In his new year’s message, Cimatu greeted every Filipino with a “Happy Environmental New Year,” as he thanked every one for their support for a better, environment-friendly Philippines. ### 

Over 125,000 hectares of forests rehabilitated in 2018—DENR

More than 125,000 hectares of open and denuded forest lands were rehabilitated, as of November 2018, under the government’s Expanded National Greening Program (E-NGP).

This represents 92 percent accomplishment in the annual E-NGP target of 135,859 hectares, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

As of November, the DENR reported that 116.5 million tree seedlings have been planted on 125,214 hectares of open and denuded forests covered by the E-NGP.

This latest achievement brings to 1,989,931 hectares the total areas placed under the E-NGP that were planted with a total of 1.7 billion seedlings since 2011.

Moreover, the DENR had already raised some 144.8 million native and fast-growing tree species as planting materials, from January to November 2018.

Around 3.3 million bamboo culms or cuttings and 1.72 million mangrove propagules and beach forest tree seedlings have been produced, exceeding the 2018 targets of 3.1 million and 1.6 million, respectively.

For 2018, the E-NGP generated a total of 334,317 jobs which resulted in the hiring of 52,872 people in plantation site development, plantation maintenance and protection, and establishment and operation of seedling nurseries.

E-NGP is the government’s flagship reforestation initiative that doubles as a poverty reduction measure due to its cash-for-work component.

It started as a six-year massive forest rehabilitation program that aimed to cover 1.5 million hectares of denuded forest lands with trees by the end of 2016. But it was extended until 2028 through an executive order issued in November 2015 in a bid to rehabilitate 7.1 million hectares more.

The reforestation program also serves a national strategy to ensure food security, poverty reduction, environmental stability and biodiversity conservation. It is also a mechanism for climate change mitigation for it enhances the country's forest stock to absorb carbon dioxide.

Meanwhile, the DENR also made progress in its forest protection and anti-illegal logging efforts.

The agency reported that some 108,000 kilometers of forest line have been patrolled by 1,175 forest protection officers who were hired and trained under the Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System developed by the DENR and the United States Agency for International Development or USAID.

As of November 2018, a total of 3.1 million board feet of undocumented timber products were seized, 332 cases were filed and 25 individuals were convicted for violation of Presidential Decree No. 705 or the Revised Philippine Forestry Code. ### 

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