Paje: ‘TreeVolution’ a big step towards restoring Mindanao forests

Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje has lauded the record-breaking “TreeVolution: Greening MindaNow” as a big step forward in restoring Mindanao’s rapidly dwindling forest cover and fighting climate change.

“More than setting the now-confirmed world record, we will always consider TreeVolution as a big step taken by Mindanao residents themselves in re-greening their landscape to help mitigate climate change and protect themselves against its adverse impacts,” the environment chief said.

Records tally-keeper Guinness World Records has recently confirmed Mindanao, through the TreeVolution – a massive tree-planting activity held in various locations in the region in September last year – as the new title holder for the most number of trees planted within an hour.

Paje congratulated the DENR’s partner organizers, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) led by its chairman Lualhati Antonino , the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and those who actively participated for the success of the activity.

“We are hoping that this move will inspire others, as collaboration and unity among stakeholders is the key to address the adverse impacts of climate change,” he said.

Paje noted how in recent years Mindanao had been battered by strong typhoons and huge floods in what could only be attributed to climate change impacts, and said that the sheer number of trees planted under the TreeVolution program, if properly cared for to maturity, would benefit the people of Mindanao and the environment.

He cited the sequestration of carbon, which greatly contributes to global warming and climate change; recharging of aquifers; stabilization of the soil; food security; and livelihood creation as only some of the benefits that the project would bring to surrounding communities and the environment.

During the TreeVolution, more than 122,000 participants simultaneously planted 2.29 million seedlings, across 29 locations in Mindanao on September 26 last year, surpassing the previous record of 1.9 million trees planted by India in 2011.

Paje lauded the commitment of Mindanao’s local government units who contributed five hectares each for the planting sites, through a resolution passed by the Confederation of Provincial Governors, City Mayors and Municipal League Presidents of Mindanao or Confed-Mindanao.

He reiterated that the TreeVolution was in support of the government’s National Greening Program, which aims to cover 1.5 million hectares with trees by 2016. # 



Paje urges collective effort to improve Boracay’s water quality

Environment and Natural Resources Ramon J.P. Paje, has called for collective effort by the national and local governments, businesses, and residents to address water quality problems in Boracay.

“All stakeholders, who benefit from the various tourism and business opportunities of the island, should help maintain the good quality of its beaches,” Paje said following a report that bacterial levels in Boracay waters are extremely high, significantly exceeding DENR guidelines for recreational water.

The environment chief said the evident cause of beach pollution, which can be a big turn off for most of the tourists, is the lack of proper drainage system in the area.

Thus, he called for completion of the ongoing sewerage and drainage improvements on the island to help reduce the amount of pollutants directly discharged to surface water and groundwater.

“Concerned authorities, particularly the local government of Malay, Aklan and the Department of Tourism which heads the Boracay Task Force should look into the situation especially since the summer season is fast approaching and we are expecting highest tourist influx at this time,” he said.

The DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau office in Western Visayas had earlier reported that coliform bacteria levels in a drainage outlet that empties into the sea in Sitio Bulabog in Boracay exceed safe standards and reach 47,460 most probable number (mpn) per 100 milimeter (ml).

The safe level is 1,000 mpn/100ml for waters for swimming and other human contact activities.

Apart from posing serious health and sanitary problems, coliform bacteria could also adversely affect aquatic resources, including marine life and coral reefs which, aside from the powdery white sand beaches, form part of the island’s main attractions.

Paje said that he already instructed the local DENR office to closely monitor establishments and apprehend violators of the Clean Water Act.

He also reiterated his appeal to the local government to withhold issuing business permits to establishments that do not have a discharge permit or connection to the sewerage system.

At the same time, Paje urged commercial establishments and residents to practice self-regulation in improving the water quality of the island paradise.

“Let us not wait to be penalized for not complying with environmental policies and local ordinances. Taking the initiative to connect with the drainage and sewerage system benefits everybody and the environment,” he pointed out. # 



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