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Prior to the outbreak of the corona virus disease or CoViD 19, field offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Western Visayas conducted activities in observance of the International Day of Forests 2020.

The International Day of Forests (IDF) is an annual celebration held on March 21 to raise awareness on the importance of forests to people and their vital role in poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and food security. This year’s theme: “Forest and Biodiversity” emphasized the importance of the forests and the biodiversity found within them.

The DENR Region 6 field offices celebrated IDF just before mass gatherings were postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

In Aklan, the Provincial ENR Office (PENRO) conducted a small group discussion (SGD) with the youth who are the future eco-warriors. The SGD informed and educated the eco-warriors on the importance and benefits of our forests, especially the Aklan River Watershed Forest Reserve (ARWFR). It was held in Brgy. Ma. Cristina, Madalag, which is part of the ARWFR.

In the province of Antique, the PENRO team discussed the importance of forests and the IDF in their radio program aired over DYKA 801 AM. Other activities of the PENROs were postponed to prevent the possible spread of the virus.

“This global pandemic is rooted on the fact that we have changed the land uses of many forestlands, of humans either invading territories that belong to the wildlife or engaging in illegal wildlife trade, thereby putting a heavy toll on biodiversity and our lives in general,” noted DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.

“Forests and biodiversity go hand in hand. You cannot destroy one and expect the other to thrive. When we destroy our forests, we destroy its biodiversity – the very resources that sustain our existence such as food, clean water, clean air and even our medicines. They are too precious to lose,” he emphasized.

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21 as the International Day of Forests. The day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. Countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.

“While staying at home amidst this crisis I encourage each and everyone to start their own garden or plant-on-pot and decorate it in the 4-corners of your home. This is a good stress reliever and a good oxygen-giver too. DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu had emphasized the importance of the Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP) and while people are advised to stay at home, let us make use of the “enhanced” greening program in our home,” RED Milla said./DENR 6