Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje today reiterated his appeal to all local government officials to revisit the geohazard maps distributed by the agency and institute mitigating measures to shield communities from danger.
At the same time, he asked the same officials to cease from further issuing small-scale mining (SSM) permits as the DENR no longer issues environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for SSM.
Paje sounded off the appeal in the wake of the Pantukan landslide early Thursday morning, which has already reportedly claimed 25 lives as of press time.
The DENR chief said that he has already dispatched a team of geologists to assess the area for possible dangers posed on rescuers, warning them of the possibility of further landslides due to the condition of the soil as well as holes caused by small-scale mining.
He said that he, along with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, had visited in April 2011 and found cracks along the mountain ridges. “The area continues to act as a magnet to as many as 200,000 individuals during a gold rush,” he said. They had then warned the LGU that it would only be a matter of time before the mountainside would collapse.
NGP breaches 100,000-hectare target for 2011 by 17%
Some 69.37 million tree seedlings have been planted in some 117,688 hectares of open and denuded forestland, about 17 percent above the 100,000-hectare target for 2011.
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said the latest figure is based on the December 27, 2011 report of the National Greening Program (NGP), which is being implemented as a convergence initiative among the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform and the DENR.
“Our accomplishment this year already paints a very positive scenario for 2012 as all indicators point to meeting, if not breaching, our 2011 target despite the fact that the NGP went into full swing by the 2nd quarter of 2011 following the issuance of Executive Order 26 by President Aquino last February 24,” Paje said. The DENR intends to double the target at 200,000 hectares for next year.
Based on the report, some 567,324 individuals have already enlisted in the program and took part in planting the seedlings during the year. The tree planters represented a cross section of public and private volunteers from government agencies, schools, civic organization including the church, local government units and business sectors.
Paje reiterated NGP’s goal of posting a minimum survival rate of 80 percent for the seedlings by tapping science and sound upland practices and confining identified NGP planting sites only in areas where there are communities who will be tapped to maintain and ensure growth of planted seedlings into mature trees.
“We are using matured technology in the program to increase the survivability of the seedlings,” Paje said, referring to the Mycorrhiza technology and clonal technology which reproduce quality seedlings from vegetative parts of choice planting materials grown in clonal nurseries and are inoculated with root-growing hormones Mycorrhiza.
The NGP targets to plant 1.5 billion tree seedlings in 1.5 million hectares nationwide from 2011 to 2016. Priority areas for planting include mangrove and protected areas, ancestral domain areas, civil and military areas, urban areas under the greening plan of LGUs, inactive and abandoned mine sites, and all other suitable lands for reforestation.
Proclamation of Marikina watershed as protected area to boost green agenda of government, says Paje
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje today said the proclamation of the Marikina watershed into a protected landscape will not only boost the country’s greening efforts but also enhance the water absorptive capacity of the watershed.
“With its proclamation as a protected area, the Marikina watershed will now placed under a regime of management where all native species of plants and animals, including its unique features, are protected for perpetuity, but also its forest cover shall be rehabilitated to enhance its capacity to absorb water ,” Paje said.
Now known as the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL), it covers a total area of 26,125.64 hectares in the city of Antipolo and in the municipalities of Baras, Rodriquez, San Mateo and Tanay, all in the province of Rizal .
UMRBPL’s proclamation came barely two months following a recommendation by various stakeholders for its declaration on the occasion of the second anniversary of the “Ondoy” tragedy held last September 26 at the DENR Social Hall in Quezon City.
During that event, officials and representatives of government and non-government organizations, such as the Climate Change Congress of the Philippines, Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation, and Philippine Ecumenical Action for Community Empowerment (PEACE) Foundation, and the Alliance of Seven Cities representing Marikina, Quezon City, Antipolo, Pasig, Cainta, San Mateo and Rodriguez, signed a Statement of Commitment to coordinate their actions to prevent another “Ondoy” tragedy and save the Marikina Watershed Reservation by working for its inclusion in the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS).
Among other things, the signatories committed to formulate and implement a comprehensive management plan for the watershed reservation, undertake massive tree planting covering some 10,000 hectares in consonance with the National Greening Program (NGP), and intensify law enforcement in the area.
The group also committed to develop a buffer zone and social fence against urban sprawl, and provide alternative livelihood to settlers and indigenous people in the area to wean them away from kaingin and charcoal–making, two activities largely blamed for tree loss inside watershed.
Paje endorsed the recommendation to President Aquino, saying the proclamation is imperative to maintain the life-support system in its natural condition, and to conserve the rich cultural features and the threatened and endangered Philippine flora and fauna thriving in the area. It is also seen as a potential source of water supply for Metro Manila, and plays a vital role in regulating flooding in the low-lying areas of Rizal and MM.
“The President’s proclamation also promotes the government’s green agenda, particularly on the aspect of expanding the country’s terrestrial protected areas to advance the country’s biodiversity conservation efforts,” Paje said.
Included in the list of endangered wildlife species found in the Marikina watershed are forest trees like narra, red and white lauan, bagtikan, kamagong, and molave; while the wild fauna include birds like the Philippine bulbul, black-naped oriole and jungle fowl; mammals like the Philippine deer, wild pig and the Philippine monkey; and reptile such as the monitor lizard.
The DENR chief stressed, however, that the proclamation of the Marikina watershed shall be “subject to the operations of previous proclamations and property rights and without prejudice to the rights of the indigenous peoples.” The UMRBPL will be under the administrative jurisdiction of the DENR and shall be administered in accordance with the NIPAS Act.
Phl to host international conference on coastal and marine ecosystems
The Philippine government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will host the Global Conference on Land-Ocean Connection (GLOC) and the 3rd Intergovernmental Review (IGR-3) on the Implementation of the Global Programme of Action (GPA) for the protection of the marine environment from land-based activities on January 23-27, 2012 at EDSA Shangri-la in Mandaluyong City.
DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said the twin events offer an important opportunity for the country “to showcase our accomplishments, efforts and successes in protecting our environment, particularly our marine and coastal resources, which have been dubbed as the center of the center of marine biodiversity.”
“The hosting of these important events was offered to us by the United Nations Environment Programme sometime in March 2011, and we have accepted the offer because it provides us a good opportunity to showcase our accomplishments, efforts and successes in protecting our marine and coastal resources,” Paje said.
Approximately 500 delegates are expected to attend the conference consisting of 200 high level officials, including 40 environment ministers from different Asia-Pacific countries, and 300 local delegates from the Philippine government and non-governmental organizations. President Aquino has also been invited to keynote the event.
The delegates to the conference are expected to provide vital inputs to the forthcoming 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil (Rio+20) through a Manila Declaration.
“The ‘Manila Declaration’ will also be the perfect opportunity to symbolize the country’s support and commitment to the GPA, which can be considered a multilateral initiative to improve health, reduce poverty, and protect critical ecosystem services,” said Paje.
Some of the expected outcomes during the events are: update on the status of implementation of GPA-Marine at the global, regional and national levels; government commitments to develop their respective plans of action within four years; build new partnerships or collaborations focused on the GPA objectives; amendments to implementation mechanisms; commitment from donors to support GPA implementation; and increased awareness of emerging issues that threaten coastal and marine ecosystems.
The GPA has been described as the only global program to address interconnectivity among the freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems. It was adopted by 108 governments and the European Commission in 1995 through a “Washington Declaration.” In the past 15 years, it has undergone two processes – the first in Montreal, Canada in 2001 and the second in Beijing, China in 2006.
DENR’s land management project featured at UN Expo in Italy
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje expressed gratitude to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for showcasing the Philippines’ Land Administration and Management Project Phase 2 (LAMP2) as an example of successful solution in support of rural and agricultural development during the 2011 Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo held Dec. 5 at its headquarters in Rome, Italy.
“We are deeply honored every time our local actions get recognized by the international community. This only means that our efforts in introducing reforms in the land management sector, including the systems we have developed in land titling, land valuation and capacity building are responsive to the development needs of our people,” Paje said. The GSSD Expo, the first ever expo held solely from the South and for the South showcases successful Southern-grown development solutions (SDSs) to address the need to meet Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with the support of the donor community and the multilateral system under innovative triangular and public-private partnership (PPP) arrangements.
In nominating the LAMP to the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the organizer for the GSSD Expo, FAO Land Tenure Service Chief Dr. Paul Munro-Faure said: “LAMP is an example of solution in a challenging environment where results are being achieved because of the commitment of the Government and of the key institutions and their teams to make these important changes.”
Abdul Kobakiwal, chief of FAO’s Integrated Food Security Support Service added, “The experience of the Philippines offers a comprehensive solution to improving land tenure regulation and land rights, which could inspire other developing countries”.
Aside from the nomination, LAMP2 also received a plaque of citation from His Excellency, Macharia Kamau, permanent representative of Kenya to the United Nations and president of the High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation, and from Yiping Zhou, director of the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
LAMP2 is a long-term commitment of the Philippine government to address poverty alleviation and promote economic growth through secure land tenure and equitable property valuation.
Aside from addressing key issues and fundamental problems in the land sector, the project also introduced and developed innovations and technologies to expedite titling procedures through cadastral surveys, systematic adjudication, land information and land records management, thus putting integrity to land titles.
Likewise, to improve the quality of government and private sector property appraisal performance, the DENR’s land administration and management project adopted a uniform valuation standards and a single valuation base for taxation.
“We still have a long way to go but with these new technologies, innovations and strategies introduced in our land titling system and land management, it is not far-fetched our people would finally realize their dreams of becoming land owners themselves, while setting an example for our neighboring countries to emulate,” Paje stressed.