Press Releases

Despite the obvious challenges caused by COVID-19, 2020 was a productive year for the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) after having successfully completed the designation of over 200 protected areas (PAs) and saved a dozen species from extinction this year.

The BMB is a staff bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) mandated to conserve and sustainably manage the country’s rich biological diversity.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu attributed BMB’s success to its unwavering commitment to making sure the country’s flora and fauna are well protected even during the COVID-19 lockdown when people mobility is limited and environmental crimes are rampant.

“The effects of the community quarantine did not dampen the spirits of our people at BMB. They made sure that the agency’s mandates are still fulfilled in the fullest extent possible,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu made the statement after the BMB reported that a total of 244 PAs covering more than 7 million hectares have been either legislated or proclaimed in 2020, pursuant to Republic Act 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas (E-NIPAS) Act of 2018.

DENR Assistant Secretary and concurrent BMB Director Ricardo Calderon said the importance of designating PAs could not be overstated.

“Without the legislated and proclaimed PAs in the Cagayan and Marikina River Basin, the devastation of Typhoon Ulysses could have been worst for the wildlife and the communities dependent on these natural ecosystems,” he pointed out.

Calderon noted that each PA is guided by a science-based management plan, incorporating biodiversity assessment tools that identify appropriate management and conservation measures for flora and fauna and their habitats.

Calderon also reported “12 species are no longer on the edge of extinction” after the BMB intensified its wildlife protection and enforcement efforts.

He said the respective conservation status of these species were downlisted from endangered to vulnerable and vulnerable to other threatened species (OTS).

OTS, which is a classification under DENR Administrative Order 2019-09, refers to species or its varieties that is not critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable, but is under threat from adverse factors such as over collection throughout its range.

Calderon said one such species is the Asian Giant Softshell Turtle (Pelochelys cantorii), which was downlisted two levels from its previous status of endangered to OTS.

Another species that was downlisted to endangered to vulnerable are the Negros forest frog (Platymantis negrosensis), Mount Data forest frog (Platymantis subterrestris), Mindanao bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba crinigera), Luzon water redstart (Rhyacornis bicolor).

The Mindanao fanged frog (Limnonectes magnus), Basilan island caecilian (Ichthyophis glandulosus), Todaya caecilian (Ichthyophis mindanaoensis), Yellow-headed water monitor (Varanus cumingi), Marbled water monitor (Varanus marmoratus), Large-scaled water monitor (Varanus nuchalis), and Mount Isarog shrew-mouse (Archboldomys luzonensis) also downlisted from vulnerable to OTS.

Calderon said that even with this achievement, the BMB should not be complacent since those species under OTS might likely revert to its vulnerable or endangered category if left as it is.

“One of the vital components as to why this is successful is our aggressive wildlife enforcement. To date, we have conducted eight successful operations despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic,” Calderon said.

Those operations led to the confiscation of 53 wild fauna and 27.36 kilograms of agarwood or derivatives of Aquilaria species with an estimated cost of P5.6 million.

Moreover, seven new cases against wildlife criminals have been filed this year. As of September, the DENR secured 30 convictions out of 32 criminal cases it had previously filed against violators of RA 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001. ###

Around 45,000 hectares of denuded and open forestland have been planted with 35.6 million seedlings by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as of October this year, posting a 95-percent accomplishment of its 2020 target of 47,166 hectares.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu expressed confidence of hitting the 2020 target under the Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP), the government’s flagship reforestation initiative.

“We are on track to reach or even exceed the 100-percent mark as we are now gradually increasing targets for plantation establishments,” Cimatu said.

“We are also doubling our efforts in protection and maintenance to increase the survival rates in plantation sites established in prior years,” he added.

From 2017 to 2019, protection and maintenance efforts have been undertaken in some 369,371 ENGP plantations. These were established involving some 5,876 peoples’ organizations (POs) as partners.

In 2020, 807 more POs were enlisted as partners for the ENGP bringing to 6,683 the POs engaged by the DENR from 2017 to 2020. In 2019, only 19,617 hectares were targeted for planting or only 14 percent of the 2018 target of 136,466.

In total, around 2 million hectares have been planted with 1.7 billion seedlings since 2011 when the ENGP was launched.

The program has also generated at least five million jobs, benefitting some 700,000 upland dwelling individuals hired in seedling production, site preparation of planting sites, and maintenance and plantation protection activities.

From 2019 to June 2020, around 62,366 individuals have benefited from the 345,551 jobs created during the period. Another 2,740 were employed as forest extension workers tasked primarily to give technical assistance to all NGP partners and beneficiaries on proper tree plantation management.

Forest extension workers also assist POs in sourcing affordable farming tools and post-harvest facilities, and in identifying opportunities to market their produce.

In 2015, Malacañang issued Executive Order 193 extending the NGP’s implementation period from 2016 to 2028 to cover the country’s estimated 7.1 million hectares of remaining unproductive, denuded, and degraded forestland.

In its proposed 2021 budget, the ENGP targets to plant in 82,349 hectares and to produce 72.9 million seedlings. ###

 

 

Despite restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) still managed to carry out its mandate to monitor compliance with laws on clean water, clean air and solid waste management.

“The pandemic is no excuse for dropping guard against violators of environmental laws, rules and regulations,” DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.

He added: “In fact, this is the time for us to be more vigilant and aggressive against these lawbreakers due to what they perceived as relaxation of enforcement of environmental laws, which is really not the case.”

To ensure compliance with Republic Act 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act, the EMB strengthened its monitoring of 8,572 industries and maintained 101 real-time air quality monitoring stations (AQMS) nationwide in 2020.

All AQMS recorded that the country’s air quality, particularly in terms of particulate matters 10 and 2.5, are within the standards of 60 micrograms and 25 micrograms per normal cubic meter, respectively.

Also this year, the EMB formulated, updated and monitored 22 airshed action plans. It also issued 211 certificates of conformity to new vehicles compliant to Euro IV standards in the first semester of the year.

Although only one additional water quality management area (WQMA) was declared this year, EMB updated and monitored existing 36 WQMAs in compliance with RA 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act.

To ensure the water quality of existing waterbodies, it conducted continuous ambient monitoring of 42 priority rivers, 315 other waterbodies and 39 priority bathing beaches. It also classified 52 waterbodies and monitored compliance of 4,960 firms/industries in the first semester of the year.

On the implementation of RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the bureau assisted 598 barangays in establishing their respective materials recovery facility (MRF) and supported the operation of 24 functional MRFs.

Meanwhile, the DENR-led National Solid Waste Management Commission has approved a total of 106 solid waste management plans this year, bringing the total to 1,063 since RA 9003 was enacted in 2001.

It also monitored the implementation of 670 closure and rehabilitation plans, as well as the actual closure and rehabilitation of 204 dumpsites. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reminded the public on the proper management of all kinds of waste as the country celebrates the holiday season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Because of the pandemic, this holiday season is like no other,” said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

“As we hold a more intimate holiday celebration with our immediate families, let’s be extra careful on the safety of our health and the environment by practicing responsibility and sustainability,” he added.

Cimatu emphasized the importance of observing proper waste segregation in households during this time of merriment, gift-giving, and feasting.

He said wastes that need to be segregated include those that are compostable, recyclable, non-recyclable, and special waste comprising of household hazardous and healthcare wastes.

According to Cimatu, food waste should be under the biodegradable or compostable trash bin, whereas containers that come with it such as glasses, cans, plastic bottles should be under the recyclable trash bin.

On the other hand, DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda said that as online shopping and food delivery continue to rise due to the pandemic, product packaging such as plastic bags, as well as used plastic or paper cups, and tetra packs should be segregated as non-recyclable materials.

Used masks, gloves, face shields, and other healthcare wastes should be separated as household healthcare waste, while batteries, charging cables, and other electrical and electronic equipment should be under household hazardous waste, he added.

While proper garbage disposal is deemed critical during this season, Antiporda said Filipinos should primarily consider the basics of solid waste management, and that is, to reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible.

“Let’s be more mindful on what we buy, eat, and use and how it will affect the environment,” Antiporda said.

To minimize holiday trash, Antiporda advised the public to bring reusable bags or eco-bags whenever one shops, buy local and in bulk, list things to buy prior, patronize long-lasting goods and gifts instead of disposable ones as well as save gift wrappers and decorations to again be used for next year.

He said that whenever possible, send online greeting instead of cards, buy own groceries and prepare food at home for Christmas and New Year instead of availing food delivery services or eating outside, avoid using disposable plates and cutlery and refrain from buying excess goods, and choose products with minimal packaging.

“Time and time again, Secretary Cimatu has always urged the public to practice the ‘3Rs.’ So, whenever we buy, use, or consume something, it is always beneficial to consider if it saves landfill space, raw materials and natural resources such as energy, water, and money,” Antiporda said. ###

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday (Dec. 22) spearheaded a mangrove planting activity at the BASECO lagoon in Tondo, Manila, as part of the continuing rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

"Our responsibility under the rehabilitation is not only confined in the physical rehabilitation, cleaning and dredging. Habitat restoration is also so much a part of the rehabilitation efforts,” said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

Cimatu said the planting activity was “only the start of habitat restoration in this part of Manila Bay."

Massive mangrove planting activities will also be held along the shoreline of Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, and Parola, at the side of the Pasig River.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Danilo Lim also joined the activity. The MMDA is a strong partner of the DENR in the cleanup of the BASECO lagoon and its surrounding area, and in tree planting.

The endangered mangrove species gapas-gapas from the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau was among those planted. Other species were nipa, busain, and nilad.

"Because this area is most suitable for mangroves to thrive, we are not only assured of relatively high survival rate, we also encourage the return of several marine species to their natural spawning ground and thus restore the natural ecosystems of the bay,” Cimatu said.

The environment chief assured that the habitat restoration will be done in “an accelerated, more effective, and more efficient manner."

The estero rangers and bakawan warriors of DENR-National Capital Region will monitor the growth of the mangroves.

Mangroves improve water quality and protect the shoreline from siltation and storm surge. They serve as habitat and spawning ground for fish that results in increased fish catch.

The Baseco beach area is at the mouth of Pasig River, a major waterway that drains to Manila Bay. ###