June 20, 2024

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is encouraging local government units, the academe, private sector, and other stakeholders to achieve its targeted prioritization of one million hectares of classified forest areas for afforestation and reforestation.

During the celebration of the 160th anniversary of the Philippine Forestry Service, Philippine Environment Month, and Arbor Day (National Tree Planting Day) held at the DENR central office in Quezon City, DENR Sec. Antonia Loyzaga said that such partnership would help support lives and livelihood and accelerate delivery of the country’s global commitments towards building a low carbon, green and blue future.

“We need to work across departments, with agencies and LGUs, the academe, private sector, and non-government and people’s organizations to protect, enhance, and sustainably manage our forest resources,” Loyzaga said.

“This convergence will ensure that the goals of the community-based forest management, which started with the integrated social forestry program of the government, established by President Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1982, along with those of our Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 are fully realized,” she added.

During the event, Loyzaga echoed the call to plant more native trees species throughout the country, particularly molave, narra, and mountain agoho, as this help “recover and expand forest habitats for threatened native species of plants and animals, protect the watershed and freshwater resources, and secure the livelihood of local people.”

By beginning the event with tree planting, Loyzaga said it serves as a reminder of the essential importance of forests in maintaining ecological balance and integrity, mitigating and adapting to climate change, and enhancing biodiversity.

“They are our life support, without which water, energy, and food security would be impossible,” she said.

DENR data show that as of 2020, there are about 7,226,394 hectares of estimated forest cover in the country, with a 3 percent increase for the past five years.

Among the top regions with the most forest cover are Region 2, Mimaropa, and the Cordillera.

Meanwhile, Palawan emerged as the top province with 0.70 million hectares of forest cover, followed by Isabela with 0.41 million hectares, and Cagayan with 0.38 million hectares. PNA