The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) under the Marcos administration has laid down its specific plans for the forestry sector which offers strong potential for driving economic growth and development.

These plans were enumerated in a speech delivered by DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones on behalf of Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, during the 48th Philippine Business Conference and Expo hosted by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry last October 19 in Manila.

Leones said that the DENR strategic plans and programs on forestry and mining are geared towards maximizing its potential “to support our country’s growth trajectory within the context of resilience and sustainable development.”

According to Leones, these plans and programs are consistent with the policy statement of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. during his first State of the Nation Address, to wit: “The preservation of the environment is the preservation of life.”

Leones said the DENR aims to develop acceptable, science-based and risk-informed strategies to conserve and protect the environment and natural resources through partnerships with various government agencies, civil society organizations and advocate, industries, and the academe.

To spur more investment in forestry, Leones said the DENR aims to establish a conducive investment climate by developing a real-time, single-point access forestry investment portal that will provide information and services about forestry investment and ready areas for development and utilization.

The portal will have links to financial and credit facilities of partner financial institutions such as the Development Bank of the Philippines, which supports the DENR’s agro-forestry plantation program.

It will also offer access to insurance packages of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. for selected tree species in developed forest plantations, he added.

Leones disclosed that the DENR is open for public-private partnership to develop an estimated 960,000 hectares for timber and agro-forestry production.

He said the forestry sector could also be a potential source of nature-based offsets in carbon trading and offsetting schemes that could generate climate finance from carbon market mechanisms through voluntary markets, compliance markets and result-based payments through REDD+ or the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

Leones said the DENR has also intensified forest protection by curbing illegal logging in reducing “hotspot” areas nationwide.

Recognizing the various benefits of bamboo in stabilizing river systems and serving as carbon sinks, Leones said that the agency is looking into partnerships with the Department of Trade and Industry and other government agencies for the development of the bamboo industry, one of the main targets in its National Greening Program.

The DENR currently oversees 15 million hectares of land classified as forest lands. In 2011, the country’s forest cover was 6.8 million hectares but it increased by 5.6 percent or 7.2 million hectares based on the recent 2020 data captured by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority or NAMRIA.###