Press Releases

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) kicked-off ‘Brown Bag Sessions’ within the agency, as part of its drive to enhance the knowledge base of DENR officials and employees through sharing of best practices by experts and practitioners. The first DENR ‘Brown Bag Session’ focused on Nature-Based Solutions for Climate and Disaster Resilience with First Philippine Holdings Chief Sustainability Officer Agnes de Jesus, and Naeeda Crishna Morgado, Senior Infrastructure Specialist for Innovation and Green Finance for the Southeast Asia at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as guest speakers.

“These brown bag sessions are really about the science, technology, engineering and innovations for the future that we want,” Environment Secretary Antonia Loyzaga said. “These will improve our work to enhance what we know and enrich our knowledge base.”

During the first ‘Brown Bag Session,’ De Jesus shared her insights on the conglomerate’s experience with Nature-Based Solutions, focusing on subsidiary Energy Development Corporation (EDC). She cited some approaches that EDC uses such as planting native trees and leading the replanting of degraded forest areas in various sites under its BINHI Program, where they planted rare, threatened, hardwood and native species. This included the Mt. Apo afforestation, which brought back its rich biodiversity. De Jesus added that they organized forest communities, wherein alternative livelihoods were provided to support host communities.

Morgado, for her part, noted that Southeast Asia is facing a dual crisis to combat climate change and finance climate actions, while addressing a natural capital crisis, which can be seen in how the forestlands and biodiversity are impacted by conversion or extension of agricultural lands. With this, she presented a case study on sustainable coastal and marine fisheries in Cambodia to address declining fish stock due to overexploitation.

Wrapping-up the session was DENR Assistant Secretary Noralene Uy who discussed the advocacy of the DENR for nature-based solutions as one way of mitigating the impacts of climate change.

The DENR leadership hopes to organize ‘Brown Bag Sessions’ open to all DENR employees. These sessions are designed for all DENR employees to learn from experts in practices related to environment and natural resources management.

Experts underscored the need to implement active conservation efforts to protect and propagate medicinal plants amidst climate change and other threats, noting that the country has yet to maximize the economic value of medicinal plants.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources–-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB), the principal research arm and thinktank of the DENR, led the conduct of the ASEAN Conference on Medicinal Forest Trees in Pampanga and cited the huge potential of medicinal trees for the health and wellness of Filipinos.

Some 117 participants from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan took part in the three-day conference.

According to ERDB Director Maria Lourdes G. Ferrer, forest species studies reveal interconnected relationships between nature and human health used by indigenous people worldwide for disease treatment. Ferrer said there is a need to gather and preserve indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants and medicinal forest trees given their benefits and potential for economic activity.

"As we embark on this intellectual journey, let us remember that our discoveries have the potential to touch lives, alleviate suffering and shape the course of healthcare and medicinal forest trees species conservation," said Ferrer.

For his part, ERDB Assistant Director Conrado B. Marquez said habitat protection through active management of forests, governance with the appropriate funding allocation are vital for medicinal forest trees to adopt and become resilient to climate change.

Marquez said the ERDB is mandated to develop protocols on propagation and plantation development and management.

"We are working now on a technology called tree fortification. We are trying to fortify trees in a manner that will make them more resilient to pests and to add to the viability and manageability of particular tree species," said Marquez.

The objective of tree fortification is to protect threatened tree species and increase their population.

The ERDB is also doing other vegetative propagation measures such as cloning to address scarcity of species.

Dr. Pastor Malabrigo, Jr., professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños said based on the database of medicinal species in the country 456 tree species have known medicinal value.

"We have 3,500 tree species. It's safe to assume that we are underutilizing our plant resources. There are rare, threatened species, the public is not familiar with, which are not being used. We have to give attention to these," said Malabrigo.

He encouraged the event poster presenters to publish their researches on medicinal plants for people to recognize these and increase public awareness. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB) emphasized the significance of advancing research and knowledge concerning medicinal plants and forest trees, underlining their crucial role in increasing awareness about potential benefits and optimizing use.

This message was conveyed at the conclusion of the ASEAN Conference on Medicinal Forest Trees on Sept. 7 in Pampanga province, gathering 117 participants from across Southeast Asia.

ERDB Director Maria Lourdes G. Ferrer urged all participants to continue championing research, innovation, and responsible management of the country’s natural resources, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and information sharing to bring about transformative change.

“Through your rigorous research, innovative thinking, and unwavering commitment to responsible stewardship of our natural resources, we have unearthed possibilities that will undoubtedly expand beyond the limits of current knowledge,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer noted that the conference discussions not only deepened understanding but also promoted collaboration for the advancement of medicinal non-timber forest species.

Besides the inadequate research support, the conference acknowledged the shortage of published literature on medicinal forest trees. It also emphasized the substantial threats posed by forest degradation and habitat loss to vital medicinal forest tree species. Furthermore, there is a pressing need for more ethnobotanical and pharmacological research on medicinal plants and forest trees.

The ERDB recommended integrating these issues into the DENR's Research, Development, and Extension (RDE) Agenda. Simultaneously, efforts will continue in collecting data on medicinal forest trees and conducting ongoing ethnobotanical and pharmacological research.

To enhance science communication, there will be an improved information and education campaign on the medicinal value of forest trees, along with increased promotion of RDE on medicinal forest trees. The publication of research results will continue to raise awareness and encourage the use of these valuable resources.

“Together, we can fully realize the medicinal potential of our forest trees, creating a brighter and healthier future,” Ferrer concluded. ###

The Philippines joins thousands of volunteers in over 150 countries, continuing the country’s active participation in the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day, a global initiative dedicated to addressing ocean pollution through beach and waterway cleanups held every third Saturday of September.

Now on its 37th year, the Philippines has been participating in the ICC since 1994. In 2003, Proclamation No. 470 officially designated the third Saturday in September as ICC Day, instilling a sense of vigilance among Filipinos in their support of the ongoing global fight against marine litter. The theme "Clean Seas for Healthy Fisheries" is carried by this year’s ICC which aligns closely with the objectives of the United Nations (UN) Ocean Decade Challenge 3 which is to “Sustainably Feed the Global Population”. This challenge recognizes the need to ensure sustainable food production from the ocean to feed the growing global population while safeguarding the health and productivity of marine ecosystems.

In partnership with numerous organizations, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) took the lead in coordinating cleanups in various water bodies across the country. An estimated 35,000 volunteers armed with sacks, rakes, and gloves joined forces for the cleanup effort across the country. Participants included individuals and groups from the DENR workforce, national and local government agencies, academia, the private sector, youth organizations, civic groups, and civil society.

Concurrent coastal cleanups led by various DENR offices and bureaus were held nationwide including key areas such as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park; the Tullahan River along Barangay San Bartolome in Novaliches, Quezon City; Baseco Beach in Manila; the Balanga Wetland and Nature Park in Bataan; Barangay Butong Taal in Batangas; the Mactan Channel in Lapu-Lapu, Cebu; the Abatan River and Panglao in Bohol; Banica River in Dumaguete; Bais City, Negros Oriental; and along the shore of Pagadian Bay in Zamboanga Del Sur.

The DENR regional and field offices also partnered with SM Supermalls, through its corporate social responsibility arm, SM Cares, together with SM Prime Holdings, Inc, in organizing clean-up drives in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Fifteen SM Malls were designated as a base that enabled volunteers, including SM employees, to actively participate in the cleanup drive. Likewise, regional offices of the Department have collaborated with UNTV offices across the country under the latter’s advocacy campaign Ocean Care Initiative.

Beyond waste retrieval, ICC volunteers documented the volume of waste collected which will be submitted to Ocean Conservancy and UN Ocean Decade to contribute to global efforts to combat plastic pollution.

During the 2022 ICC, findings of the Global Ocean Trash Index conducted by Washington, D.C.-based environmentalist advocacy group Ocean Conservancy showed that the Philippines collected 249.382 metric tons of waste. The collected waste encompassed a spectrum of items, including cigarette butts, beverage bottles, food wrappers, bottle caps, grocery bags, food containers, cups and plates, straws, and stirrers.

Under the leadership of Secretary Antonia Loyzaga, the DENR is unwavering in its commitment to enacting effective solid waste management practices. DENR supports a circular economy wherein all plastics are reused, recycled, repurposed, and responsibly managed.

The DENR, in collaboration with organizations, implements a range of programs to address solid waste in cities and municipalities nationwide. This is in support of reinforcing the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Act of 2022 or Republic Act 11898 which mandates enterprises to establish EPR programs for plastic waste reduction, recovery, and diversion.#

Ahead of the 37th annual International Coastal Clean-up on September 16, Environment Secretary Antonia Loyzaga underscored the importance of engaging all sectors in the fight against plastic pollution, urging businesses to comply with the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Law. The DENR chief stressed that the government alone cannot solve the problem of plastic pollution through EPR law on plastic waste.

“This is a whole-of-society and whole-of-government effort. It cannot be achieved by the DENR alone,” said Loyzaga.

Republic Act 11898 or the EPR Act serves as the environmental policy approach and practice that requires producers to be environmentally responsible throughout the life cycle of a product, especially its post-consumer or end-of-life stage. This requires large companies to adopt and implement policies for the proper management of plastic packaging wastes, including single-use plastics.

Loyzaga cited a report by the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) stating that the Philippines generates 61,000 metric tons of solid waste daily, 12 to 24 percent of which come from plastic waste. Moreover, other studies have shown that Filipinos were found to utilize more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags, and 45 million thin-film bags daily, 33 percent of which is disposed in landfills and dumpsites, and around 35 percent is leaked into the open environment and oceans.

With the EPR law now in place, Loyzaga said the full responsibility for the entire life cycle of plastic waste is on its producers through the development and implementation of EPR programs that focus on waste reduction, recovery, and transfer.

As of August 2023, 662 firms have submitted to the National Solid Waste Management Commission their programs for the proper management of their plastic waste. Data from the Department of Trade and Industry however indicates an estimated 4,000 large enterprises that may be mandated to comply with the EPR law.

“So we do need the help of our friends in the media, our friends in the private sector, and the NGO sector to build up that registry in order for us to really take this law in expansible effect,” Loyzaga said.

The DENR has partnered with other government agencies for solid waste management support, namely: the Department of Science Technology for the establishment of an information hub for cleaner technologies on solid waste management; the Department of Trade and Industry for solid waste management information database and development; with the Food and Drug Administration on the mandatory adoption of eco-labels and collaboration with industries; the Department of the Interior and Local Government on the establishment of collaboration with LGUs, communities and informal waste sector; with the Department of Labor and Employment on the establishment of standards and rules on fair wage policies; and the Department of Finance on the establishment of policies on fiscal incentives.

The DENR also seeks to partner with the Department of Social Welfare and Development on enforcing laws on the possible integration of the informal waste sector and the protection of children from child labor, and other types of vulnerabilities.

Loyzaga is calling on more members from the private sector to help in the implementation of the EPR law by formulating an industry-led roadmap that would address marine litter, establishing a network of LGUs, NGOs and industry for compliance, and establishing a national network to promote a recycling market, among others.

She said there are also various ways by which the public could help in this mission, such as segregation at source, composting, and reduction of food waste.

“The EPR mechanism is one of the transformative ways to promote sustainable consumption and production. It provides a more sustainable way of doing business and towards production and green job creation. It enables collaboration between the government, companies, communities, and informal sectors to reduce the generation of plastic wastes in the country,” Loyzaga said. #