DENR extends reforestation project with UPLB in Sierra Madre

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has extended for another year its three-year project with the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) that seeks to reforest a portion of the Sierra Madre mountain range in Laguna and Quezon provinces.

The project covers open and denuded forestland within the so-called Laguna-Quezon Land Grant (LQLG) in the towns of Siniloan and Real.

LQLG is a 6,765-hectare property acquired by UPLB by virtue of Republic Act No. 3608 dated Feb. 8, 1930.

DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said what led to the extension was the marked success of the joint effort of the department and the UPLB to reforest denuded areas of Sierra Madre’s southern portion, through the National Greening Program (NGP).

“The Forest Management Bureau (FMB) has reported that since 2012, a total of 557 hectares within the LQLG have been planted with 279,300 indigenous tree seedlings,” Paje said.

If not extended, the reforestation project would have expired in December 2015. It has already covered 378 hectares in Real and 178 hectares in Siniloan with trees.

The extension will allow the project to expand the NGP development to another 456 hectares in Siniloan, bringing UPLB’s contribution to the government’s flagship reforestation program to 1,000 hectares by end of the year.

Indigenous tree species planted on areas covered by the project include Banobo, Bolong-eta, Palong Maria, Mulingmuling, Kalumpit, Kuling Manok, Kuling Baboy, Dalingdingan, and Malagmat.

The undertaking is tied to the NGP, which taps state universities and colleges (SUCs) in its implementation pursuant to Executive Order No. 26 issued by President Aquino in February 2011.

The DENR has so far tapped 27 SUCs, including UPLB. These academic institutions are involved in the establishment of clonal facilities and seedling nurseries through the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB).

The UPLB, however, is also involved in production of quality planting materials, plantation establishment and maintenance, and protection activities for seedlings planted for a minimum of three years.

The extension of the DENR-UPLB reforestation project was requested by UPLB Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs Serlie Jamias last month and was subsequently endorsed by FMB Director Ricardo Calderon based on the findings of the four-member NGP National Secretariat Office that inspected the two planting sites.

The LQLG is one of the two land grant areas being managed by the UPLB. The other is the Laguna Land Grant (LLG) that was awarded to the university through RA 3990 dated June 18, 1964 and has a land area of 3,435.4 hectares.

Collectively referred to as the UP Sierra Madre Land Grants, the LQLG and LLG are located in the southern portion of the Sierra Madre mountain range. ### 


Marking World Wetlands Day, DENR highlights importance of wetlands to local economy

As the country joins the celebration of the World Wetlands Day on February 2, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) calls for greater commitment to protecting wetlands, which serve as a critical source not only of biodiversity but also sustainable livelihood for local communities.

DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje reminds the public that wetlands are a place of economic activity as people depend on them for food, housing and income, and thus these areas should be protected and preserved.

“The wise use and conservation of wetlands should be a major concern among Filipinos because these areas are not only home to many plants and animals but also to a lot of human communities,” Paje said.

“Wetlands provide economic benefits as a major source of employment for communities within and surrounding them,” he added.

The environment chief cited aquaculture, transportation, wastewater treatment, ecotourism, and community cottage industries as some of the forms of livelihood supported by wetlands.

He said wetlands also provide ecological benefits such as providing fresh water and food supply, habitats for biodiversity, protection against floods, and carbon sequestration, which are all essential in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

“Yet, many people are still unaware of these benefits and have the misconception of wetlands being wastelands,” Paje lamented. “They give no second thought to the effects of overutilization and over-extraction of resources, land conversion and pollution that degrade these important ecosystems and cause them to eventually disappear.”

Protecting and restoring wetlands are also embodied in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, he said.

The DENR, through its Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), has lined up various activities for this year’s local celebration of the World Wetlands Day, with the theme, “Wetlands for Our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods.”

The BMB has scheduled educational outreach to communities near Lake Canarem in San Jose, Tarlac. Field offices are also expected to do the same, including educational tours and lectures, in other wetlands across the country.

The bureau also encourages youth aged 15-24 years old to join the Wetland Youth Photo Contest sponsored by Ramsar, for a chance to win a free flight to a wetland location anywhere in the world.

Contest rules state that a contestant can take up to three photographs in a wetland location from February 2 to March 2. The photos must show how people make a living from wetlands.

The digital files must be accompanied by an entry form and uploaded at starting February 2. Entries will be judged according to technical and artistic qualities, illustration of the theme, and number of public votes earned.

Wetlands are areas permanently submerged with fresh, brackish or salty waters. Examples are lakes, marshes, swamps, peatlands, mangroves, coral reefs and even man-made wetlands like rice fields and reservoirs.
The country gives importance to wetlands as a contracting party of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, which provides a framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

The convention was first adopted in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran, and currently has 166 contracting parties covering 2,226 wetland sites.

The Philippines has six Ramsar sites, namely: Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and Puerto Princesa Underground River National Park, both in Palawan; Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Mindanao; Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu; Naujan Lake National Park in Mindoro Oriental; and the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area in Metro Manila. # 


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