Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has transferred the authority to issue permits for the cutting and relocation of naturally-growing trees for areas and activities that are exempted from Executive Order (EO) 23 to its regional offices.

EO 23, signed in 2011, strictly prohibits the cutting and harvesting of timber in natural and residual forests.

Under DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2021-11, issued on May 19, 2021, Cimatu transfers the authority to issue tree-cutting and earth-balling permits from the Undersecretary for Field Operations at the DENR Central Office to the 16 regional executive directors nationwide.

He said the DAO aims to streamline the procedures and approval process involving naturally-grown trees in private lands, including those in public or forest lands with approved tenure agreements like Forest Land Use Agreement, Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism purposes, Special Land Use Permit, and Mineral Production and Sharing Agreement with approved Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program.

"We have simplified the process of applying for cutting permits and made it more accessible to private landowners and holders of DENR-issued land tenurial instruments where there are naturally-growing trees that may not need to be cut but only needs to be trimmed," Cimatu explained.

He pointed out that the move will ensure that no natural-growing trees, or trees that are already grown in an area not planted by its owner or occupant, are unnecessarily cut down or neglected.

"This is especially important in urban areas where we are promoting green spaces," Cimatu said.

DENR Assistant Secretary and concurrent Forest Management Bureau (FMB) Director Marcial Amaro Jr. said the directive will enhance the agency's processing of forestry-related permits and other regulatory instruments in compliance with Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.

"Other similar orders have already been issued by Cimatu such as the decentralization in the issuance of permits for wood processing plants and importation of wood through DAO No. 2021-05 and DAO 2021-06, respectively which seeks to augment local sources of wood and enable wood-based industries like the furniture-making and trading sectors to generate employment and income," Amaro said.

Under DAO 2011-11, the applicant must secure a Certification of No Objection or CNO to the cutting of trees from the barangay captain concerned.

The certification should be issued by the concerned municipal mayor or all barangay chiefs if the trees to be cut are within more than one barangay.

If the affected trees are within more than one municipality or city, the said certification should come either from the provincial governor or all city or municipal mayors concerned.

The CNO requirement is both for private and public land.

Furthermore, DAO 2021-11 states that CNOs are to be issued by a local agrarian reform officer if the trees to be cut are within areas covered by a Certificate of Land Ownership Award or CLOA.

Cimatu has ordered the DENR field offices to conduct an inventory of all naturally-growing trees within the area concerned both in private and public lands that will be covered by the Tree Cutting Permit applications.

Also, the inventory report "must be subscribed and sworn to by all members of the Inventory Team."

The directive likewise prescribes the rate of forest charges based on the volume and species of trees cited in the order.

It also states the schedule of the effectivity of the cutting permits based on the volume of trees to be cut ranging from 50 days but not to exceed one year. ###