The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has bared its major thrusts and directions on environmental protection and natural resource conservation under the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

“The DENR is committed to ensuring that our programs and policies are evidence-informed based on stakeholder consultation, and bolstered by appropriate current, emerging and practical technologies,” Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga said in her presentation during a Senate panel hearing on the proposed 2023 DENR budget last October 11.

“We are committed to integrating scientific, technological, and traditional knowledge and expertise and innovation into the DENR’s strategies, policies, and processes,” Loyzaga told members of the Subcommittee “B” of the Senate Committee on Finance.

The DENR is seeking a P23.041 billion budget for next year, which Loyzaga said would support the agency’s directions and priorities toward resilient and sustainable development.

Loyzaga said the DENR will continue to perform its duty of protecting the country’s environment and natural resources, which provide ecosystem services to the people.

“Our work is from ridge to reef, and the DENR is cognizant of its role as protector of the natural systems that provide food, water, and energy needed by our people. As a result, water security, energy security, and food security are our priority,” Loyzaga said.

Another thrust of the DENR under the Marcos administration is the adoption of “climate risk lens” in national planning and policies where a National Natural Resource Geospatial Database is expected to be established.

The conservation of protected areas and biodiversity will also be pursued through the conservation of 248 protected areas, management of 400 inland wetlands, and protection of 864 classified caves for biodiversity conservation.

This also includes the management of 33 marine protected areas that is aimed at supporting fish productivity and biodiversity-friendly livelihood enterprises for coastal communities.

The DENR will also prioritize the improvement of air and water quality and waste management. It will strengthen the management of 22 airsheds designated across the Philippines, including five geothermal airsheds, as well as the operation of 109 air quality monitoring stations.

Around 40 water quality management areas will be made functional and 942 water bodies classified based on its beneficial use will also be pursued. On solid and hazardous waste management program, the DENR will provide assistance to local government units.

Also included in the DENR’s priorities is the sustainable and responsible management of mineral resources where the 1:50,000 geologic maps generated from the geologic quadrangle mapping project will be used as basis for potential development of minerals, energy, and water resources.

In order to support the small-scale miners, the DENR will also strengthen its “Minahang Bayan” program and ensure benefits to the communities, while putting in place environmental safeguards.

Moreover, DENR will also continue reforestation efforts to protect the 7.2 million hectares of forest cover and is hopeful on further increasing the country’s forest cover as the Philippines saw a 5.65 percent increase within 2010-2020.

On its land management initiatives, the DENR aims to promote effective land management and governance, and focus on the 400,000 hectares of alienable and disposable public lands which remain to be untitled.

It will also embark on ensuring water security and resilience in high water-stressed areas. ###