Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is joining forces with the Iloilo City government, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and local youth empowerment organization GUGMA Youth to boost youth engagement in environmental protection, ecosystem conservation, and disaster resiliency at the grassroot level.

DENR Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna, said it was “deemed fitting that the protection and conservation of our natural resources is spearheaded by the country’s most important resources – our youth.”

“The DENR has always recognized the constitutional right of every Filipino for a balanced and healthful ecology. Moreso, we recognize our intergenerational responsibility, to preserve the rhythm and harmony of nature for the full enjoyment of that balance and the healthful ecology we deserve,” added Cuna.

Over the near-term, Iloilo City Representative Julienne Baronda said they plan to plant about 30,000 seedlings of native trees to help enhance the biodiversity, improve air quality, and safeguard the riverbanks from soil erosion and flooding.

“If we clean our coastal areas, the flow of water will be unimpeded. If we grow trees, we help in lessening the heat. These are things that seem small to many, but with great impacts for all to benefit, including our children,” Baronda said.

The multi-sectoral initiative was kicked-off by a simultaneous clean-up and tree-planting drive in Iloilo City last July. Over 3,600 volunteers either planted seedlings of native tree species, such as Balai Lamok, Banasi, and Salingogon, or joined the clean-up at Carpenter’s Bridge and Esplanades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9, Dungeon Creek, Lapuz Creek, Batiano River, and Jaro River. ###

The Philippines has worked for over 20 years on the protection of the marine environment within and beyond its territorial waters. As it celebrates the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement by over 60 countries today, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) expresses grave concern over the reported destruction of coral reefs, marine ecosystems and biodiversity resources in the West Philippine Sea.

Scientific studies have established that the marine ecosystem in the Kalayaan Island Group is critical for the sustainable supply of fish and coral larvae in the Philippines and the region. The rich biodiversity in the reefs, shoals and coasts is documented by the DENR, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute, and other partner-organizations.

We, therefore, strongly deplore any activity that leads to the damage and destruction of the coral reefs in the Kalayaan Island Group. We join the call for signatory States and their citizens to adhere to Article 192 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea – to protect and preserve the marine environment.

We must not forget that the ocean regulates our world’s climate and it is the source of livelihood, food security and cultural identity of all coastal states. Coral reefs are an integral part of the beneficial functioning of the marine environment. Harmful human interference, such as the destruction and illegal exploitation of any part of our marine ecosystem is a loss, not only to our country, but to the region and to the world.

Along with its partners, the DENR continues to strive towards building capacity to protect, conserve and enhance our coastal and marine environments by investing in scientific research and infrastructure, the skills for responsive and adaptive governance and capabilities for enforcement.

DENR understands that the concerned government agencies are exploring the legal options that the country may pursue. The Department is ready to support and be guided by them on these matters.


The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) kicked-off ‘Brown Bag Sessions’ within the agency, as part of its drive to enhance the knowledge base of DENR officials and employees through sharing of best practices by experts and practitioners. The first DENR ‘Brown Bag Session’ focused on Nature-Based Solutions for Climate and Disaster Resilience with First Philippine Holdings Chief Sustainability Officer Agnes de Jesus, and Naeeda Crishna Morgado, Senior Infrastructure Specialist for Innovation and Green Finance for the Southeast Asia at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as guest speakers.

“These brown bag sessions are really about the science, technology, engineering and innovations for the future that we want,” Environment Secretary Antonia Loyzaga said. “These will improve our work to enhance what we know and enrich our knowledge base.”

During the first ‘Brown Bag Session,’ De Jesus shared her insights on the conglomerate’s experience with Nature-Based Solutions, focusing on subsidiary Energy Development Corporation (EDC). She cited some approaches that EDC uses such as planting native trees and leading the replanting of degraded forest areas in various sites under its BINHI Program, where they planted rare, threatened, hardwood and native species. This included the Mt. Apo afforestation, which brought back its rich biodiversity. De Jesus added that they organized forest communities, wherein alternative livelihoods were provided to support host communities.

Morgado, for her part, noted that Southeast Asia is facing a dual crisis to combat climate change and finance climate actions, while addressing a natural capital crisis, which can be seen in how the forestlands and biodiversity are impacted by conversion or extension of agricultural lands. With this, she presented a case study on sustainable coastal and marine fisheries in Cambodia to address declining fish stock due to overexploitation.

Wrapping-up the session was DENR Assistant Secretary Noralene Uy who discussed the advocacy of the DENR for nature-based solutions as one way of mitigating the impacts of climate change.

The DENR leadership hopes to organize ‘Brown Bag Sessions’ open to all DENR employees. These sessions are designed for all DENR employees to learn from experts in practices related to environment and natural resources management.

Experts underscored the need to implement active conservation efforts to protect and propagate medicinal plants amidst climate change and other threats, noting that the country has yet to maximize the economic value of medicinal plants.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources–-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB), the principal research arm and thinktank of the DENR, led the conduct of the ASEAN Conference on Medicinal Forest Trees in Pampanga and cited the huge potential of medicinal trees for the health and wellness of Filipinos.

Some 117 participants from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan took part in the three-day conference.

According to ERDB Director Maria Lourdes G. Ferrer, forest species studies reveal interconnected relationships between nature and human health used by indigenous people worldwide for disease treatment. Ferrer said there is a need to gather and preserve indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants and medicinal forest trees given their benefits and potential for economic activity.

"As we embark on this intellectual journey, let us remember that our discoveries have the potential to touch lives, alleviate suffering and shape the course of healthcare and medicinal forest trees species conservation," said Ferrer.

For his part, ERDB Assistant Director Conrado B. Marquez said habitat protection through active management of forests, governance with the appropriate funding allocation are vital for medicinal forest trees to adopt and become resilient to climate change.

Marquez said the ERDB is mandated to develop protocols on propagation and plantation development and management.

"We are working now on a technology called tree fortification. We are trying to fortify trees in a manner that will make them more resilient to pests and to add to the viability and manageability of particular tree species," said Marquez.

The objective of tree fortification is to protect threatened tree species and increase their population.

The ERDB is also doing other vegetative propagation measures such as cloning to address scarcity of species.

Dr. Pastor Malabrigo, Jr., professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños said based on the database of medicinal species in the country 456 tree species have known medicinal value.

"We have 3,500 tree species. It's safe to assume that we are underutilizing our plant resources. There are rare, threatened species, the public is not familiar with, which are not being used. We have to give attention to these," said Malabrigo.

He encouraged the event poster presenters to publish their researches on medicinal plants for people to recognize these and increase public awareness. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB) emphasized the significance of advancing research and knowledge concerning medicinal plants and forest trees, underlining their crucial role in increasing awareness about potential benefits and optimizing use.

This message was conveyed at the conclusion of the ASEAN Conference on Medicinal Forest Trees on Sept. 7 in Pampanga province, gathering 117 participants from across Southeast Asia.

ERDB Director Maria Lourdes G. Ferrer urged all participants to continue championing research, innovation, and responsible management of the country’s natural resources, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and information sharing to bring about transformative change.

“Through your rigorous research, innovative thinking, and unwavering commitment to responsible stewardship of our natural resources, we have unearthed possibilities that will undoubtedly expand beyond the limits of current knowledge,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer noted that the conference discussions not only deepened understanding but also promoted collaboration for the advancement of medicinal non-timber forest species.

Besides the inadequate research support, the conference acknowledged the shortage of published literature on medicinal forest trees. It also emphasized the substantial threats posed by forest degradation and habitat loss to vital medicinal forest tree species. Furthermore, there is a pressing need for more ethnobotanical and pharmacological research on medicinal plants and forest trees.

The ERDB recommended integrating these issues into the DENR's Research, Development, and Extension (RDE) Agenda. Simultaneously, efforts will continue in collecting data on medicinal forest trees and conducting ongoing ethnobotanical and pharmacological research.

To enhance science communication, there will be an improved information and education campaign on the medicinal value of forest trees, along with increased promotion of RDE on medicinal forest trees. The publication of research results will continue to raise awareness and encourage the use of these valuable resources.

“Together, we can fully realize the medicinal potential of our forest trees, creating a brighter and healthier future,” Ferrer concluded. ###