The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have reaffirmed continued partnership to strengthen forestland management in the Philippines for improved livelihoods and economic development.

This comes as Environment Secretary Antonia Loyzaga received a courtesy visit from JICA Chief Representative to the Philippines Sakamoto Takema at the DENR Central Office in Quezon City on May 29.

Loyzaga and Takema discussed the Forestland Management Project (FMP), a joint DENR-JICA undertaking that aimed to strengthen forestland management in three critical river basins in the country—Upper Magat and Cagayan, Pampanga, and Jalaur on Panay Island.

A 10-year project that started in 2012, the FMP focused on rehabilitating degraded forestlands and improving the socioeconomic conditions of affected communities surrounding the three river basins.

FMP employed collaborative and comprehensive community-based management strategies, such as empowering people’s organizations; securing land tenure rights; enterprise development for food security and income; and development, conservation, protection and sustainable use of forestland resources.

Loyzaga and Takema also talked about other possible areas of cooperation for environmental protection, biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, and disaster risk reduction.

At the same time, Takema introduced JICA’s other environment-related projects and activities, such as the Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project, Flood Risk Management Project in various cities, and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management-Capacity Enhancement Project, among others.

DENR and JICA have been working closely for the protection and conservation of the environment and natural resources for six decades.

Most recently, JICA sponsored DENR’s training program on Sustainable Forestry Management with Community Participation in 2019. It also provided technical assistance in establishing ecological solid waste management programs in the cities of Calbayog, Sagay and Davao in 2022.

JICA is the sole Japanese government agency that implements Official Development Assistance, providing technical cooperation, loans, and grants, to overcome challenges common in developing nations. It operates in more than 150 countries and regions worldwide.#