Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said that while propagation of agarwood-producing species like Aquilaria malaccensis is allowed, it is however highly regulated and collecting its seeds directly in the wild is prohibited.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu issued the statement following the granting of Wildlife Culture Permit through the regional offices to certain companies for the propagation of agarwood using Aquilaria malaccensis.

"The DENR is always in the middle of balancing things, from protecting and conserving threatened flora and fauna, making sure that the resources can still be used for our economic development, especially during this crisis, but utilization in a sustainable manner," Cimatu said.

He added: “Before engaging in this highly regulated lucrative endeavor, interested individuals and private firms are advised to secure all the necessary permits from the DENR. We must ensure that the source of planting materials is legal and that the propagation of this species is in accordance with the existing rules and regulations.”

Agarwood can be derived from the Aquilaria species, which are widely distributed in the Indomalesia region.

Nine of the 21 known Aquilaria species are found in the Philippines, based on an international study titled, "The Origin and Domestication of Aquilaria, an Important Agarwood-Producing Genus."

Six species are endemic or found only in the Philippines, while the remaining three are native or indigenous.

Among the native or indigenous species is the Aquilaria malaccensis, which can also be found in other countries, such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand.

The Aquilaria malaccensis, locally known as "lapnisan," is a major source of agarwood — a resinous heartwood used for perfume and incense.

Meanwhile, DENR-BMB Director Datu Tungko Saikol said that gathering of seeds and seedlings, agarwood, and other derivatives of Aquilaria malaccensis in the wild for commercial or trade purposes is "not allowed yet pending the population assessment study of the species in the Philippines."

"Those who are interested to propagate this species of agarwood may apply for a Wildlife Culture Permit from the concerned DENR Regional Office where the farm or plantation site is located. The seedlings should be sourced legally as well," Saikol said.

"While we allow the importation of the Aquilaria malaccensis seeds through the issuance of CITES or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Import Permit by BMB, applying for a CITES Import Permit for seeds of exotic Aquilaria species such as Aquilaria crassna for use in the establishment of plantation in the country is a more tedious process as it requires prior clearance from the DENR Secretary upon recommendation from the Wildlife Management Committee," the DENR-BMB chief said.

Moreover, a Local Transport Permit is necessary "for the transportation of legally acquired seeds, seedlings, agarwood, and other agarwood by-products and derivatives."

Saikol expressed hope that the issuance of Wildlife Culture Permit will "contribute in the protection and conservation of Aquilaria malaccensis in the wild and will at the same time provide economic benefits for Filipinos, and eventually, economic development for our country.” ###

 

To promote environmental communication and learning for people who are blind or deaf-blind, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) launched Tuesday (November 16) an information, education, and communication (IEC) project as a highlight of the annual observance of the Deaf Awareness Week.

Through the DENR's Strategic Communication and Initiatives Service (SCIS) - Person With Disability Desk (PWDD), the project titled, "Strengthening DENR’s Partnership with the Deaf/Blind Community," aims to enable the visually and hearing impaired, including the blind and deaf-blind, to gain access to essential IEC materials and strengthen capacities as partners in advocating good environmental citizenships.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the initiative highlights DENR’s agenda to build strong frameworks for disability inclusion and advocacy for disability rights in DENR’s programs in building institutional collaborations with the PWD community like in environmental advocacy.

"The DENR believes people with disabilities have and should have all the same access to our communication tools as others," Cimatu said.

The DENR chief cited that the partnership is DENR’s commitment to support broad-based and inclusive approaches to address climate-related threats and push for green recovery under the government's pandemic recovery plans.

The launch was highlighted by the presentation of DENR's IEC materials with sign language interpretations and braille translations, and the pledge of solidarity with the deaf and blind community represented by National Council on Disability Affairs Executive Director Emerito Rojas and Integrated Blind of the Philippines president Gerard Amosco.

SCIS Director Hiro V. Masuda said his push to create disability-inclusive activities such as the production of IEC video and print materials accessible to the deaf and blind “echoes DENR’s putting policy into practice for persons who are most at risk of being left behind due to their vulnerabilities.”

“Moving forward, we will institutionalize this undertaking by increasingly engaging them also in tree growing activities and other advocacy efforts. The launch of the IEC materials is just the first installment of a series of IEC materials that will be published in 2022,” Masuda said, noting that all DENR-SCIS field offices will be tapped for the effort.

The materials, which are considered the first-of-its-kind in DENR’s history, consist of 16 videos with sign language interpretations.

These include materials about the key projects of the DENR, namely Battle for Manila Bay, Manila Bay Accomplishment, Manila Bay Beach Nourishment, and Battle for the Rivers and Esteros.

The DENR also produced videos about the Boracay Island rehabilitation showing activities such as the 25+5 easement, Boracay Centurion, Operation Save Boracay, Old Boracay, and Cimatu’s inspection of the island.

There are also videos about the Tourism Award, Zero Waste Month, Bird TV commercial (TVC), and Corals TVC.

The IEC printed materials translated into braille include, "Huwag Magtapon ng Basura sa Estero: Konting Abala, Laking Ginhawa," a call on proper disposal of waste to prevent clogging of esteros and avoid flooding; "Perwisyong Usok, Pigilan," a reminder on consistently maintain the engines of vehicles and use of clean fuels for clean air; and "Estero Mo, Estero Ko," on the status of esteros as a result of dumping of garbage and pollution from industries.

Others are "Adopt an Estero program” pursuant to the Supreme Court Continuing Mandamus Order to rehabilitate Manila Bay with tips on proper waste management practices such as waste segregation and reuse-recycling; "Right to Clean Air: Step Up, Act Now," a situationer on air pollution and its sources in urban areas particularly in Metro Manila; and "DENR’s s Air quality monitoring efforts," a guide on doable interventions to improve air quality.

The Deaf Awareness Week is observed every year from November 10-16 under Presidential Proclamation No. 829. ###

The Philippines, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), led Asian nations in the second climate fund replenishment talks to particularly seek funding support for developing countries to meet the 2030 international environmental goals.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu highlighted the significance of the 8th Global Environment Facility (GEF-8) Fund Replenishment discussions to finance projects for intensified environment protection against the coronavirus pandemic and climate-related calamities.

"There is a need to mobilize more resources to finance climate action and intensified environmental protection amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. GEF-8 is an opportunity that the countries should tap for this," Cimatu said.

The GEF was created in October 1991 to enable developing countries to address priority environmental concerns, such as deforestation, desertification, climate change, biodiversity loss, and ozone depletion.

DENR Undersecretary for Finance, Information Systems, and Climate Change Analiza Rebuelta-Teh represented Asian nations, which include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Syria, and Yemen, during the global meeting held virtually on September 29 to October 1.

"The meeting comes at a crucial time as the world is in the COVID-19 crisis recovery stage," Rebuelta-Teh said, who served as the observer for GEF Asia and GEF Operational Focal Point for the Philippines.

She cited that Asian nations are united in the call to bring to the attention of GEF their support for the vulnerability index as a factor in the prioritization of GEF funding of projects.

The vulnerability index under the System for Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR) is important in determining the real economic issues on the ground, Rebuelta-Teh said.

STAR is a performance-based framework for the allocation of resources from the GEF Trust Fund to countries over a replenishment period.

Rebuelta-Teh also noted that the vulnerability index especially applies among Least Developed Countries and Small Island Development States.

She pointed out that there is a need for increased support for these nations.

Other recommendations include the intensified support for countries in their blue (ocean) and green (forestry) recoveries with the pandemic recovery factored in the GEF strategy.

Rebuelta-Teh said the Philippines is looking forward to sustained funding for its environmental projects in the next GEF four-year cycle, from July 2022 to June 2026.

GEF-8 is expected to reach US$6.5 billion given an increase in allocation for Non-Grant Instruments (NGI) and Small Grants Program (SGP). The allocation is meant to support the private sector and civil society participation in NGI and SGP.

The biggest chunk will be allocated for biodiversity (34 percent), followed by climate change (15 percent), chemicals and wastes (14 percent), international waters (12 percent), and land degradation (11 percent).

About US$157 million will be allocated for NGI and US$256 million for SGP.

The replenishment negotiation process serves as a venue for donor countries to discuss and negotiate financial allocation sharing for the upcoming GEF replenishment cycle.

It also provides the opportunity to review GEF performance and evaluate progress, assess future funding needs of the member-countries, and agree on the GEF financing framework.

The meetings are attended by representatives from four clusters of non-donor recipient countries, namely Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, including non-government organizations and the private sector.

The third GEF-8 Replenishment Meeting will be held on February 2022 followed by the fourth and last meeting on April-May 2022. ###

 

With the temporary closure of the Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the public may consider visiting other local ecotourism sites in the country for relaxation.

"Those living in nearby provinces who wish to rejuvenate their minds and bodies need not go to Manila just to see the dolomite beach. There are many ecotourism sites available in your localities for your enjoyment," Cimatu said, as he encouraged the public to explore and discover these areas.

According to Cimatu, there are equally captivating ecotourism sites located in protected areas (PAs) established under the National Integrated Protected Areas System through Republic Act (RA) 7586, as amended by RA 11038 or the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2018.

The DENR chief reiterated that "health protocols must be observed while visiting these sites to ensure the safety of the visitors while enjoying the tours."

"Those visiting PAs should expect to undergo the screening process and adhere to existing COVID-19 safety guidelines," Cimatu added.

PAs are managed by their respective Protected Area Management Boards (PAMB) through the PA Management Offices (PAMO).

The rules and regulations issued by the concerned local government units for the safety of the tourists are also implemented in ecotourism sites within the PAs.

With the enactment of RA 11038, 94 protected areas (PAs) were added to the roster of legislated PAs, bringing the number to a total of 107.

This means prospective travelers have “a vast array of places to choose from," according to the DENR chief.

In September and October 2021, the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), United Nations Development Fund-Biodiversity Finance Project (BIOFIN), and Department of Tourism have conducted a three-part webinar series dubbed "Ecotourism in Protected Areas: Towards Green Recovery."

The webinar discussed the impacts of the global pandemic on ecotourism, lessons on post-pandemic ecotourism recovery strategies, and how to encourage the participants to be responsible travelers.

DENR-BMB Director Datu Tungko Saikol also invited the public to join the "Virtual Travels to Protected Areas," a video contest for travelers of legal age and residing in the Philippines.

The contest aims to generate content featuring the country’s PAs. The deadline for submission of entries is on November 30, 2021.

“After two years of being confined in the comfort of our homes and localities, we can take this opportunity to explore nearby protected areas and capture their beauty and values through videos,” Saikol said.

“Hopefully, the videos from the contest will encourage the viewers to visit our country’s PAs and help our tourism sector recuperate," he added.

The winners of the contest will each receive an all-expense-paid trip to selected PAs in the country.

For more information on the contest, details are posted on the DENR-BMB website at bmb.gov.ph/index.php/virtual-travels-to-protected-areas-video-contest. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has signed a partnership agreement with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) to mainstream gender and development (GAD) programs and capacitate officials and employees to promote gender equality in all aspects of work within the DENR.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the agreement will bring great strides in the GAD implementation as it raises awareness about the role of women in the environment sector.

"We at the DENR are honored to have this partnership with PCW to promote the role of women in the environment sector and spread more awareness about their significant role," Cimatu said.

According to the DENR chief, the recent addition of the GAD courses in the agency’s Environment and Natural Resources Academy (ENRA) also serves as "another avenue for DENR personnel to be more equipped in the changing society and times."

"With the recent launch and conclusion of the special course on enforcement at ENRA, another specialized course—this time on GAD—will make men and women more sensitive and more prepared to interact with their colleagues while keeping in mind the lessons in gender and development," Cimatu added.

Undersecretary for Finance, Information Systems and Climate Change Analiza Rebuelta-Teh, who serves as the chairperson of the DENR's National Gender Focal Point System, said that the agreement serves as "an anticipatory and thorough planning for mainstreaming gender and development concerns in the department, rather than the as-the-need-arises basis."

"Partnership is bound to change the way we in the DENR team can go about assessing the state and requirements of gender-based training in the Department, prioritizing carefully those that need attention on both sides," Rebuelta-Teh said.

Meanwhile, PCW Executive Director Kristine Rosary Yuson-Chaves said the Commission has "high hopes that this endeavor will bring clarity as well as new insights to DENR’s mainstreaming journey."

According to Yuson-Chaves, PCW "has identified the environment sector to be prioritized for the provision of the GAD-related technical assistance."

"PCW commits to support DENR in this gender mainstreaming journey so that implementation will go beyond near compliance but, more importantly, to achieve gender responsiveness of the agency’s programs, projects, activities and services, and realize positive impacts in the lives of its duty-bearers and clients, especially on women and girls," said Yuson-Chaves.

Under the agreement, the DENR will take the lead in organizing GAD-related activities, including preparation of GAD Plans and Budgets, and Enhanced Gender Mainstreaming Evaluation Framework.

Meanwhile, PCW will provide resource persons to guide and support the capacity development program of DENR in its ENRA’s supervisory and management courses and extend the necessary technical assistance in other related activities.

The PCW serves as the national machinery for gender equality and women’s empowerment and is mandated to capacitate national government agencies to effectively implement Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women.

Witnessing the signing of the partnership agreement were DENR Climate Change Service Director Elenida dR. Basug, also the concurrent Director for DENR GAD Office, and PCW Chief GAD Specialist for Sectoral Coordination Division Macario T. Jusayan. ###