Press Releases

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has initiated a dialogue with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to address concerns on ancestral domain claims within protected areas like the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL).

"The DENR and NCIP must work together to align our policies on conservation and protection measures in protected areas with the government’s program for the recognition, protection, and support of indigenous peoples’ rights in protected areas," DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones said.

He said the initiative is pursuant to DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu's directive to beef up conservation and protection efforts in the country’s 244 protected areas.

It will help DENR and NCIP address overlaps and "prevent complications" from the implementation of the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) of 1992 and RA 8371 or the Indigenous People's Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997.

"We really need to resolve with the NCIP what policy direction should be on the question of lands within protected areas that are subject to claims by our indigenous cultural communities," Leones said.

He pointed out that public lands will be assumed as private lands and never to have been part of the public domain once declared as Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) area.

However, Leones noted that CADT holders are prohibited from selling ancestral land to private entities and non-tribe members as it defeats the purpose of protecting their rights and culture.

Section 58 of IPRA states that indigenous peoples concerned "shall be given the responsibility to maintain, develop, protect and conserve such areas with the full and effective assistance of government agencies to maintain, develop, protect and conserve the ancestral domains and portions thereof which are found to be necessary for critical watersheds, mangroves, wildlife sanctuaries, wilderness, protected areas, forest cover or reforestation."

He cited, for instance, the UMRBPL where the Dumagat-Remontados of Antipolo have a pending application for CADT covering some 13,000 hectares, or half of the 26,126-hectare total land area of the UMRBPL.

"The DENR would effectively lose jurisdiction over half of UMRBPL should the NCIP decide that the claim is valid and issues a CADT," Leones said.

He noted that the DENR has been doubling its conservation efforts within the protected area as part of the ongoing rehabilitation efforts of Task Force Build Back Better (TF BBB) led by Cimatu.

Under Executive Order 120 issued by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in November 2020, the TF BBB will oversee post-typhoon rehabilitation efforts in areas ravaged by typhoons Rolly and Ulysses, namely, Cagayan River, Bicol River and Marikina River.

Within the UMRBPL, around 100 kilometers, covering 801 hectares, are targeted for streambank stabilization with the planting of bamboos involving 11 indigenous communities.

Since 2012, at least 247 check dams have been constructed to reduce soil erosion and slow down the flow of water from upstream Marikina into the Marikina River, while at least a hundred more check dams are in the planning stage that will cover 87 kilometers of riverbanks within the protected area. ###

 

An initial 144 seedlings of endemic tree species have been planted at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) in Quezon City as part of the efforts of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) to manage green spaces in urban areas amid the pandemic.

"By planting trees especially in urban areas, we have been nurturing nature and green spaces that can be beneficial to humans as it can contribute directly to health by reducing stress and improving the overall quality of life," DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said in a speech read by Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda during the launch of the DENR-BMB's Buhay-Ilang sa Siyudad Project at NAPWC on Tuesday, June 22.

A total of 144 seedlings of native and endemic tree species, which include banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa) and mussaenda (Mussaenda philippica), were planted during the project launch.

Other species were white lauan (Shorea contorta), apitong (Dipterocarpus grandiflorus), bagtikan (Parashorea malaanonan), dalingdingan (Hopea foxworthyi), guijo (Shorea guiso), hagakhak (Dipterocarpus validus), manggasinoro (Shorea assamica ssp. philippinensis), yakal (Shorea astylosa), akle (Serialbizia acle), igang (Syzygium garciae), lipote (Syzygium polycephaloides), ipil (Intsia bijuga), siar (Peltophorum pterocarpum), supa (Sindora supa), tindalo (Afzelia rhomboidea), and batino (Alstonia macrophylla).

The seedlings were planted in three different areas of NAPWC, including the Grand Rotonda, which is near the BMB’s office; the Cherry Lane, which stretches on the path near the Quezon Avenue gate; and the Buhay-Ilang Sa Siyudad site, an area within NAPWC restricted from any physical development and will be naturally maintained to showcase nature in its undisturbed state, and will provide ecologically representative examples of natural environment.

The launching and tree-planting activities were participated in by at least 229 DENR executives, senior officials, and personnel, and representatives from the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Bureau of Corrections.

The tree-planting activity is part of the DENR-BMB’s arboretum project, which aims to transform NAPWC into a repository of Philippine native and endemic trees.

It also aims to strengthen the DENR-BMB's advocacy for the use and proliferation of native plant species for efficient delivery of ecosystem services.

It also complements the bureau's Urban Biodiversity Program, which provides a more strategic framework for assessing the status of biodiversity in urban areas.

With the primary objective of effectively managing the green spaces in urban areas, the Urban Biodiversity Program also aims to comprehensively and sustainably manage and reduce threats to biodiversity in urban areas in order to maintain ecosystem services for the benefit of the present and future generations.

DENR Undersecretary for Special Concerns and concurrent BMB Director Edilberto Leonardo said the bureau's vision to transform the NAPWC’s plant inventory of exotic and invasive species into native tree species started last year and is being implemented in phases.

"In June last year, a ceremonial tree planting activity was conducted by the Bureau at NAPWC planting a total of 107 seedlings of which all are part of the 96 Philippine threatened tree species," Leonardo said.

Subsequent enrichment tree planting activities were conducted in November 2020 and in April 2021, planting a total of 12 and 60 seedlings, respectively.

According to Leonardo, the most recent was conducted on the first week of June, where 36 native tree species were planted along the park’s perimeter fence near the Elliptical Road and corner of Quezon Avenue.

Leonardo is hoping that the tree-planting activities will "contribute to the efficient delivery of ecosystem services" at the NAPWC in order for the park to "not only be an oasis in the middle of a highly urbanized environment, but also a learning laboratory for biodiversity conservation and education on different native and endemic plants and animals."

The NAPWC is one of the few remaining green spaces in Metro Manila and is among the 94 legislated protected areas nationwide.

It is also classified as a national park by virtue of Republic Act 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992, amended by Republic Act 11038 or the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2018. ###

 

More than 60,000 tree seedlings were planted across the country on Friday, June 25, during a simultaneous tree-planting activity organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), together with the Society of Filipino Foresters Inc. (SFFI), and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) in celebration of the Philippine Arbor Day.

The main program was held at the 2,695-hectare La Mesa Watershed where some 1,000 seedlings were planted, consisting mostly of indigenous tree species.

Tree-planting activities were held simultaneously in various planting sites identified by the DENR’s 17 regional offices and participated in by SFFI’s chapters and PRC-accredited professional organizations nationwide.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu lauded the undertaking as he described the SFFI-PRC’s partnering with DENR in the greening program as "a great leap forward to further enrich the world-class status of the Filipino professional as an advocate of climate change adaptation and resiliency."

Cimatu noted that the SFFI-PRC initiative "clearly raises the Filipino professional’s standards of excellence and quality of service with PRC’s push to promote the principles of sustainability as an advocacy among the Filipino professionals."

"As advocates of green sustainability, our Filipino professionals will play a crucial role in environmental work in a post-pandemic world as climate change will still be upon us long after COVID-19 will have been globally contained," Cimatu said.

DENR forester and SFFI National Capital Region president Joey Austria led the participants from the DENR.

SFFI national president and forester Tommy Valdez explained its Carbon-Neutral Program (CNP), which seeks to mobilize Filipinos in planting and growing at least 100 trees each to offset carbon footprints and make each "carbon neutral."

CNP anchors on the studies conducted by the DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) and the World Bank.

The ERDB study pointed out that trees can sequester five to 15 kilograms of carbon annually.

Meanwhile, a World Bank study noted that each Filipino is responsible for the emission of 1.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

"Requiring Filipinos to plant 100 trees each can render the whole country carbon neutral consistent with ERDB and WB studies," Valdez said.

The monitoring and validation of the planting and growth of trees enrolled in the CNP are being conducted by the DENR’s regional offices and SFFI’s provincial chapters in collaboration with the PRC.

PRC and the participating organizations also expressed their support to SFFI’s Carbon-Neutral Program (CNP), which seeks to mobilize Filipinos in planting and growing at least 100 trees each to offset carbon footprints and make each "carbon neutral." #

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has partnered with the Rotary Club of Binangonan for the clean-up of Laguna de Bay to restore biodiversity, as well as help improve waterflow, in time for the onset of the rainy season.

"The cleanup of water bodies does not only contribute to biodiversity conservation. They also mitigate flooding, which is part of climate change adaptation and mitigation and disaster risk reduction," said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

"This makes it an invaluable part of the DENR priority programs," he added.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda, Rotary Club of Binangonan president Jerome C. Antiporda, and members of the Philippine Coast Guard took part in the Laguna de Bay Clean-up Drive Project on June 11.

The activity was part of the celebration of the Rizal Province’s 120th Foundation Day and Rotary Club of Binangonan’s 22nd founding anniversary.

The cleanup project, along with tree planting activities in several parts of the municipality, was conducted with the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) beneficiaries, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology-Binangonan Municipal Jail, Tulong Pilipinas Movement Binangonan Rizal, Binangonan Riders United, Guardian Brothers, Philippine National Police, and the Bureau of Fire Protection, and other organizations.

"Malaki po ang maitutulong nitong proyektong ito hindi lamang sa Laguna de Bay, kundi pati na rin sa ibang karatig tubig nito tulad ng Pasig River at Manila Bay," said Antiporda.

Laguna de Bay, which is known as the largest freshwater lake in the Philippines and the third largest in Southeast Asia, is a major source of fish in the country. Its only outlet, the Napindan Channel, is connected to Manila Bay via the Pasig River.

Like other bodies of water in the country, biodiversity in the bay is under threat of uncontrolled development, population growth, and industrialization.

There is also an unmitigated proliferation of water hyacinth, commonly known as water lilies, considered an invasive species that causes a major obstruction to the flow of water.

"Huwag po sana tayong magsawa sa pangangalaga ng ating kalikasan at kapaligiran, sapagkat dito nakasalalay ang maayos, malinis, at maunlad na kinabukasan ng ating mga anak at ng ating Inang Bayan," said Antiporda.
Antiporda, who also heads the Manila Bay Anti-Pollution Task Force (APTF), has directed its members to prioritize the removal of water hyacinth in Laguna de Bay and Pasig River.

He said that local fisherfolk will also be employed to fast track the cleanup of these bodies of water. ###

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has called on the public, especially those in Metro Manila, to adopt vertical gardening techniques to increase green spaces in the metropolis.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said that "we can derive so much benefit from these green spaces, which include green walls, green roofs, vertical gardens, urban forest parks, linear forest along walk ways, transport routes and river systems.”

“These networks of green spaces improve air quality, reduce heat, increase energy efficiency, reduce noise pollution, and provide habitats for wildlife," Cimatu said.

Having vertical gardens not only protects biodiversity and increases green spaces, but also improves public health, he added.

"It will help relieve stress of average Filipinos by enhancing the aesthetics of their surroundings, especially during this time of health crisis," Cimatu said.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda said there are still green spaces existing in Metro Manila, including the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) where the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) is located, University of the Philippines-Diliman, and Ateneo de Manila University all in Quezon City, the Arroceros Forest Park in Manila, and the Las Piñas–Parañaque Wetland Park.

To increase green spaces and enhance biodiversity in urban areas, the DENR-BMB has been promoting the Urban Biodiversity Program among local governments which includes Urban Forest Bathing and the promotion of green infrastructures.

Urban Forest Bathing helps promote the health benefits of forests and green spaces while green infrastructures are buildings or infrastructures that support green energy and provide environmental benefits.

By advocating Urban Biodiversity, nature becomes closer to urban dwellers.

"We can only do so much based on our existing laws in preserving the green spaces in Metro Manila, but even an ordinary citizen can help in this endeavor. Kahit maliit lupa niyo—backyard lang—eh malaki na rin pong tulong iyan," Antiporda said.

He pointed out that "the trend of plantitos and plantitas has helped a lot to reverse the impacts of the fast infrastructure development in the National Capital Region (NCR)."

However, Antiporda noted that while the trend is helpful, the demand for ornamental plants also "invited the unwanted proliferation of plant poachers."

"The DENR, through the BMB, is doing its best to catch these poachers because what they are doing is against Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001," he said.

Plant hobbyists should not patronize illegally traded plants, especially non-native plants "because of their possible adverse impacts to the environment that may result in bringing pests and diseases that may infect other species of plants," he warned.

Antiporda said the department is "committed to augment the green spaces in the NCR in the best ways that it can and to promote the use of native species"

He pointed out that development plans in urban areas that would involve the cutting of trees should strictly comply with the DENR's tree-cutting policy.

"The DENR mandates that for every tree cut in urban areas, 50 to 100 replacement trees should be planted in areas outside NCR," he said.

"We encourage everyone to join us in our mission to protect the environment. Magtulong-tulong po tayo. Hindi lang po para sa henerasyon na ito kundi para sa mga susunod pang henerasyon," he added. ###