Press Releases


The country’s richness in marine biological diversity comes to the fore as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) leads in the celebration of May as Ocean Month and May 22 as International Day of Biodiversity (IDBD).

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said that the themes, “Buhay Dagat, Buhay Natin ” for the National Month of the Ocean and “Marine Biodiversity” for IDBD highlight the importance of the country’s marine resources in sustaining human life, and vice versa.

“There is a direct correlation between marine life and human life on land; the survival of one depends on the other. This ‘double celebration’ for May will therefore aim to raise the awareness level on that relationship,” he stressed. He added that the celebrations also support the Manila Declaration on Furthering the Implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities signed in January of this year by representatives of 65 governments and the European Commission.

Paje stressed that the DENR’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) has lined up a month-long roster of activities that will highlight issues surrounding the conservation and management of the country’s marine life as well as increase practical action among stakeholders.

The celebrations will kick off on Wednesday (May 2) at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) in Quezon City. Volunteer cyclists led by the Firefly Brigade will open the day at 5:30 AM with a bike tour starting at the NAPWC parking lot, heading for East Avenue, EDSA, SM North Edsa, Monumento and Quezon Avenue, around the Quezon City Memorial Circle and back to the NAPWC amphitheatre for the rest of the opening ceremony.

Paje and PAWB officials will lead participants of the opening ceremony in donning blue shirts for a “Blue Day Campaign” that will drum up awareness on the celebration for the ocean. The month-long activities for IDBD and Ocean Month will also be launched, including the holding of an underwater photo contest in coordination with the Network of Underwater Digital Imagers. The contest is open to all amateur and professional photographers who could best depict ocean conservation through pictures, with winners to be announced and awarded during the Ocean Jam on May 25th.

The kickoff ceremony will end with the inauguration of an exhibit where DENR’s partners in marine conservation – such as the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, Conservation International, the Coral Triangle Initiative and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity - will showcase educational materials for the public.

Other Ocean Month activities will include a lecture series on marine biodiversity, as well as workshops on management planning for the Manila Bay Region on May 3-4; “Green Fins Code of Conduct” for responsible diving on May 10-11; national consultation on the Coastal Law Enforcement Manual on May 16; and updates on the State of the Coast report on May 28-29.

Activities directly involving the media include a mangrove tree-planting for media members in Calatagan, Batangas province on May 15; and a live TV interview on Global News Network discussing the topic “Marine Biodiversity and Food Security” on May 21.

Marine experts will gather on the International Day of Biodiversity itself on May 22 to discuss Philippine initiatives on the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Eco-region; the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI); the Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area; and the Joint Oceanographic Marine Scientific Research Expedition.

On May 25, about 700 volunteers from different sectors will paint murals on marine biodiversity around the 1,075-meter fence of the NAPWC. The mural, to be called the “Wall of Nature”, could be considered the longest in the country upon its completion. The mural painting will be followed by the Ocean Jam, a concert showcasing different musical renditions advocating conservation and protection of the Philippines’ coastal and marine environment.

The PAWB will also launch two different websites on coastal and marine ecosystem management, one for the Integrated Coastal Resource Management Project on May 18, and another for the CTI and its National Plan of Action on May 30.

The month of May was declared in the Philippines as the National Month of the Ocean under Presidential Proclamation No. 57 signed in 1999 by then President Joseph Estrada. The proclamation names the DENR and the Department of Agriculture through its Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to spearhead the observance to highlight the protection and sustainable management of the country’s coastal and ocean resources.




The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has identified 17 more state universities and colleges (SUCs) that will be enlisted this year by the agency to raise quality native tree seedlings using clonal technology in its bid to meet its target of raising some 1.5 billion quality planting materials for the 2011-2016 National Greening Program (NGP).

“We shall have around 29 SUC-based clonal nurseries before the year ends,” Paje said, noting that 12 SUCs have already been enlisted in DENR’s national clonal production program for the construction and operation of clonal nurseries within their campuses.

Paje bared that the 17 SUCs are currently undergoing appraisal to assess their respective qualifications and competencies to operate a fully functional clonal nursery based on the criteria used by the Philippine Forestry Education Network (PFEN), adding that these partner-SUCs will primarily produce indigenous tree seedlings.

“PFEN is almost done with its appraisal of the 17 SUCs and we are just awaiting the green light from them to formally forge a partnership with these SUCs through the signing of memoranda of agreement,” Paje bared. The MOA signing will pave the way for the construction of the clonal nurseries which will be funded by the DENR in the amount of P3.5 million each.

PFEN is an association of academic institutions advancing the forestry education in the Philippines by offering the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Forestry. Included in the list are Benguet State University (La Trinidad, Benguet), Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (Bauko, Mt. Province), Ifugao Sate College of Agriculture and Forestry (Lamut, Ifugao), Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (Bacnotan, La Union), Nueva Viscaya State University (Bayombong, Nueva Viscaya), University of the Philippines at Los Banos (Los Banos, Laguna), Southern Luzon Polytechnic College (Lucban, Quezon).

The list also include Occidental Mindoro National College (San Jose, Occidental Mindoro), West Visayas State University (La Paz, Iloilo City), Negros State College of Agriculture (Kabangkalan, Negros Occ.), Biliran National agricultural College (Biliran, Biliran), Samar State College of Agriculture and Forestry (San Jorge, Samar), Leyte State University (Baybay, Leyte), Western Mindanao State University (Zamboanga Del Sur), Central Mindanao University (Musuan, Bukidnon), University of the Philippines–Mindanao ( Davao City), and Mindanao State University (Marawi City, Lanao Del Sur).

According to Angelito Esconde of the DENR’s Ecosystems and Research Development Bureau (ERDB), candidate-SUCs located in areas that are far from a DENR clonal nursery are given priority in the DENR-SUC partnership.

“This is to optimize the production capacity of an SUC-based clonal nursery in augmenting the DENR’s capacity to produce as many quality planting materials, particularly the indigenous tree species which are difficult to raise if produced through the conventional method,” Esconde added.

Through a technique called “vegetative clonal technology,” cloned seedlings are grown from cuttings of premium donor plants that were carefully collected from the forest floor when they were still wildlings for their desired qualities.

These wildlings are then “pampered” at a clonal nursery to produce robust stems that are harvested and, in turn, undergo maintenance care to grow roots lasting up to five months with the help of root-growing hormones, before they are distributed for planting.

Esconde said the method produces abundant tree seedlings that are genetically identical their parent-tree on a year round basis as against the conventional method which make use of seeds gathered from the fruits of the trees.

“The problem is our indigenous tree species like yakal, kamagong, mayapis, molave, tindalo, toog and teak bear fruit only every seven to 10 years,” Esconde added.

Last year, NGP planted some 69.3 million tree seedlings in more than 118,000 hectares. Of the total planted seedlings, five million consisted of indigenous species.

For this year, the NGP aims to raise some 114 million seedlings, 14 million of which are native tree species to be planted in over 200,000 hectares.

Among the SUCs with existing MOA with DENR for clonal nursery operation are the following: Apayao State College in Conner, Apayao; Kalinga-Apayao State College in Tabuk, Kalinga; Mariano Marcos State University in Batac City, Ilocos Norte; Isabela State University in Cabagan, Isabela; Ramon Magsaysay Technological University in Iba, Zambales; Western Philippines University in Aborlan, Palawan; Bicol University in Guinobatan, Albay;

Negros Oriental State University in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental; Bohol Island State University in Bilar, Bohol; University of Eastern Philippines in Catarman, Samar; Pampanga Agricultural College in Magalang, Pampanga; and Caraga State University in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte.

In February this year, the DENR has also entered into a partnership with the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) and the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation, Inc (PTFCF) tasking the two to raise indigenous tree species seedlings for the NGP through their members from civil society organizations (CSOs), numbering around 200.

Last week, Paje, together with DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo, led the groundbreaking ceremony for the 1.12-hectare DENR-DOST clonal nursery to be build inside the DOST compound in Taguig City.




Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje today expressed appreciation for the gesture shown by Hongkong authorities in facilitating the repatriation of 36 Philippine turtles.

“We are most thankful for the cooperation shown by Hongkong authorities. The seizure and eventual repatriation of the smuggled 36 turtles will go a long way in strengthening the campaign against illegal wildlife trade within the region,” Paje said.

Of the 36 seized turtles, 20 are Philippine pond turtles (Siebenrockiela leytensis), considered one of the rarest turtle species in the world and found only in Palawan. It is also categorized as “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The remaining 16 are Malayan box turtles (Cuora amboinens), also categorized as “vulnerable” in the Philippines, although it is also found thriving in other tropical countries of Southeast Asia.

According to Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau Director Theresa Mundita Lim, both turtle species are covered by Republic Act No. 9147, otherwise known as the Philippine Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. “Under the Philippine wildlife law, trafficking specifically of the Philippine pond turtles is punishable by a six-year prison term or a fine of up to a million pesos,” Lim said.

Records gathered by Lim’s office showed that the seized turtles were part of the cargo on board Cebu Pacific Airlines which left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on February 8, 2012.

“It was obvious that extra effort was taken by the Hongkong airport and wildlife officers to have these turtles properly handled and processed pursuant to the provisions of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES,” Lim said, explaining that China is one of CITES’s 175 signatory countries.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China.

Lim also cited the support of the Palawan local government and the Katala Foundation, Inc. (KFI), a Palawan-based non-government organization, which worked with the DENR to protect and conserve Philippine wildlife species, particularly the Philippine cockatoo and other threatened endemic wildlife in Palawan.

KFI and the Palawan provincial government helped foot the plane fare of the team that flew to Hong Kong to bring home the turtles.

“Being the first time for our country to be on the receiving end of repatriated seized wildlife species in accordance with CITES, the return of the Philippine turtles to Philippine waters is one more step to further solidify our collaborative ties with Hong Kong, which is a special administrative region of China, on wildlife conservation,” Lim explained.




Once completed, the 67,000-capacity clonal nursery currently under construction on the grounds of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Bicutan, Taguig City, will boost to the National Greening Program (NGP).

This was stressed by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, adding that the initial seedlings that would be produced by the nursery will be used to green Metro Manila.

On April 12, 2012, Paje, together with DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo, led the groundbreaking ceremony for the 1.12-hectare DENR-DOST clonal nursery situated inside the DOST compound in Taguig City.

According to Paje, the DENR will fund the nursery construction estimated to cost around P3.8 million. He also committed an additional P8 million for its initial operation this year.

DENR-National Capital Region Executive Director Nilo Tamoria said the clonal nursery will be equipped with state of the art facilities to include a laboratory where the processing of cuttings take place, including the application of rooting hormones; a rooting propagation house where cuttings are being rooted either in hiko trays, plastic boxes on benches or bed; a recovery house or chamber, an area with controlled environment and where newly harvested rooted potted seedlings are placed to allow gradual recovery and development of roots and shoots.

It will also have pot beds which will serve as the hardening area, where the new seedlings are gradually exposed to higher light intensity; an sterilization facility; a potting area; and a water storage area.

The nursery construction is expected to be completed in June, and will be operational by the last quarter of the year. During its initial operation, the nursery will be producing at least 5,000 quality seedlings for use in the urban greening of Metro Manila.

By next year, however, Paje said, seedling production will be increased to its maximum capacity of 67,500 seedlings.

DOST Secretary Montejo said the clonal nursery will initially make use of the diverse trees and plants currently growing within its 32-hectare compound in raising planting stocks, numbering around 65 species.

Montejo said that among the popular trees found in the compound include Adelfa, African tulip, Agoho, Alasiis, Alibangbang, Almaciga, Amugis, American kapok, Antipolo, Antsoan dilaw, Bagras, Balibitan, Banaba, Big leaf Mahogany, Duhat, Earpod, Fire tree, Golden shower, Himbabao, Ilang-Ilang, Indian rubber, Ipil, Kaimito, Kalamansanai, Kamachile, Kamagon, Lumbang, Mangium, Molave, Neem tree, Philippine teak, Prickley Narra, Rain tree, Red gum, Smooth Narra, Talisai, Yemane and Thailand shower.

By virtue of Executive Order No. 26 issued last year, President Aquino launched the National Greening Program, which seeks to rehabilitate some 1.5 million hectares of the country’s open, denuded and degraded areas with the planting of at least 1.5 billion trees by the end of his term in 2016.

“Given the condition of the planting sites as well as the need to ensure higher survival rate for the planted seedlings, the quality of the planting stocks must be such that they could withstand adverse impact of transplantation from the nursery environment to the planting site,” Paje said.

Seedlings raised in a clonal nursery, said Paje, are of better quality not only in terms of their root system as they produced either through macro-somatic or tissue culture but also because they are derived from select, quality mother trees.

Paje clarified, however, that NGP is not only an environmental program to mitigate the impact of climate change, but also is a food security and poverty alleviation program of the Aquino Administration.

“The President is urging us to plant cacao, coffee, mango and other agricultural trees in the eight million hectare of open, denuded and degraded areas throughout the country to provide livelihood and income for our upland people, estimated to number around 30 million,” he said.





Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje urged research institutions and support organizations to join the agency in the conduct of comprehensive biodiversity assessment and inventory of the country’s key biodiversity areas (KBAs) and protected areas.

Paje made the call during the recent unveiling of two new species of frog discovered on Mt. Nacolod in Southern Leyte, at the National Museum in Manila.

“With the highest rate of discovery of new species in the country, it is expedient for the DENR and support organizations, especially research institutions, to conduct more comprehensive biodiversity assessments in our key biodiversity areas (KBAs) and protected areas,” Paje said.

Paje stressed the importance of such assessments not only to the discovery of more species but also in providing policy and decision makers a sound basis for crafting appropriate conservation measures.

But, at the same time, he admonished that “we must move fast and produce credible results as we are competing against other pressing economic development agenda of the government.”

He cited the recent biodiversity assessment conducted in Southern Leyte in November last year that resulted in the discovery of two new species of frogs that belong to genus Platymantis and a total of 229 recorded flora species, 31 of which are unique to the country.

The assessment was jointly conducted by the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the DENR, DENR-Region 8, the Flora and Fauna International and the National Museum of the Philippines.

“The discovery of the new frog species brings pride to every Filipino as our country harbors an array of amazing wildlife, many of which are still waiting to discovered,” he said.

The Philippines has been recognized in the international community as having the highest rate of discovery of new species in the world. In the last 10 years, at least 36 new endemics have been discovered in various parts of the country.

The ground assessment on Mt. Nacolod revealed that there were still “some patches of pristine forest” on the mountain where the two frogs were discovered, some portions of it have been opened up due to agricultural expansion and the pressure of growing human population.

Meanwhile, PAWB Director Theresa Mundita Lim said during the event that the discovery of some 40 new species in the country in the last 10 years, including the new frog species from Mt. Nacolod and a new species of cloud rat in Dinagat Island, “make the Philippines a conservation priority country in the world”.

“Biodiversity brings immeasurable direct and indirect benefits not only to the country but also to the global community. This is the reason why the government is continuously working towards providing the necessary conservation measures to rehabilitate and protect the habitats of species,” Lim said.

Also present during the unveiling ceremony were Ralph Timmermann, deputy head of Mission, German Embassy; Dr. Bern-Markus Liss, principal advisor for the Climate –Relevant Modernization of Forest Policy and Piloting of Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in the Philippines, GIZ; Dr. Neil Aldrin D. Mallari, country director of Fauna and Flora International; and Director Jeremy Barns of the National Museum of the Philippines.