The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), with partners in the academe and civil society, will be officially launched tomorrow (April 27) the “National Year of Forests” (NYF) at the Makiling Botanic Gardens in Los Baños, Laguna.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, who also sits as NYF chair, said the launching is an offshoot of Presidential Proclamation No. 125 signed by President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III last March 15 as the country’s way of lending its support to the United Nations (UN) declaration of 2011 as the International Year of Forests (IYF).

With IYF’s theme, Forests for People, Paje said the declaration underscores the paramount importance that forests play in the survival of the human race. “It is a synergistic relationship, forests provide benefits to man. Man must care for forests to continue being recipient of its benefits,” he said.

In the proclamation order, President Aquino said the declaration of 2011 as NYF is in support of the government’s five-year reforestation program “National Greening Program.”

“With Executive Orders 23 and 26, the Aquino Administration has made good strides in improving its green agenda. Proclamation 125 is an opportunity for President Aquino to highlight its resolve to move ahead in writing a new, brighter chapter in Philippine environmentalism,” Paje said.

EO 23 bans logging in natural forests while EO 26 declares the implementation of the National Greening Program. The presidential proclamation of NYF also called for the creation of the NYF Steering Committee, Technical Working Group and Secretariat and called on all agencies of the executive branch, including the private and public sectors, to take part in NYF-related activities.

Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco of the University of The Philippines At Los Banos (UPLB) opened the rites, with remarks stressing the need for action at all levels to be given by Filipino wildlife conservation advocate Kim Atienza, Kazuyuki Tsurumi of the UN-Food and Agriculture Organization and representatives for the Community-based Management Federation.

The program proper was preceded by mountain trek-trail-running-bikathon event within the botanic garden, an early morning food gala dubbed “Pamahaw sa Gubat” alongside a free “Hagubahob” concert in the forest.
Poster making contest, photo exhibit/contest and drawing sessions with environment-advocate visual artists Robert Alejandro also highlighted the preceding events.