Press Releases

Nearly 40 natural caves across the country have been placed under the protection and management of the government, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said.

The DENR recently classified an additional 39 caves, bringing to 454 the total number of caverns that are now part of the country’s natural wealth and therefore require sustainable management and protection.

DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said the classification, as embodied in Memorandum Circular 2016-05 that he signed, was necessary to ensure that the caves would be “preserved and properly enjoyed by the public.”

“The directive will help enhance public awareness and appreciation that caves are part of our natural resources because of their significance as ecosystems which host various forms of wildlife,” Paje explained.

“It also helps protect the geological, archaeological, historical and cultural values these caves carry, and helps sustain them for the enjoyment of future generations,” he added.

The 39 caves are distributed as follows: 6 in the Cordillera Administrative Region; 7 in Ilocos Region; 2 in Cagayan Region; 15 in Bicol; 3 in Davao del Norte province; and 6 in Region 12 or SOCCKSKARGEN.

Nine caves were categorized as Class I for their delicate and fragile formations, threatened species and extremely hazardous conditions being closed to ecotourism. Activities allowed within these caves are limited to mapping, photography, and educational and scientific purposes.

Categorized as Class I caves are the Karilagan and Aswang caves in Catanduanes, and the Kasilac Bat Cave in San Isidro, Davao del Norte.

A total of 23 caves were classified as Class II, including the Sorolla Cave in Koronadal City. Class II caves have portions with hazardous conditions, as well as sensitive geological, cultural and historical values or ecosystems. These sections may be declared closed, while the other portions may be open to experienced spelunkers or guided visits.

Seven caves, including the Dalangin Cave in Camarines Sur and the Sibud-Sibud Cave in Abra, were identified as Class III or those safe for inexperienced, yet expert-accompanied visits. These caves may also be utilized for economic activities like extraction or collection of guano or bird’s nest.

The DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau has been studying the caves prior to their classification, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9072 or the National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act.

The law mandates the DENR to formulate, develop and implement a cave management program to conserve and protect caves and cave resources. #

The thriving local automobile industry is forcing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to more strictly monitor and assess air quality in the country, particularly in Metro Manila.

DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said a more stringent air quality monitoring is necessary amid record-high car sales in recent years given the potential of motor vehicles to contribute to ambient air pollution.

“The increase in purchasing vehicles is one of the reasons why we have to become stricter in monitoring the air quality and the smoke emissions,” Paje said, in a speech read by Environmental Management Bureau Assistant Director Eva Ocfemia during the Clean Air Forum held Tuesday at the DENR’s social hall in Quezon City.

In 2015, the Philippine automotive industry posted total vehicle sales of 323,928 units, the highest ever in cumulative local sales surpassing the previous record from 2014 at 269,841.

Paje noted that 70 to 80 percent of air pollution in Metro Manila still comes from vehicle emissions.

He said the DENR, through its Environmental Management Bureau, had successfully installed air quality monitoring stations in each of the 17 local government units in Metro Manila.

“These monitoring stations broadcast real time values of ambient air quality over the National Capital Region. The values from the monitoring stations are reported in comparison with the national air quality guidelines for health,” Paje said. #

In celebration of the Environment Month, the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) conducted a tour of its headquarters in the National Ecology Center in Quezon City for its stakeholders and other government agencies.

The new office, a leading example of the "Green Building Revolution", is considered as the first-ever Philippine structure to be accredited as a "Green Building" after passing the stringent international standards set by the Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence (BERDE) in conjunction with the Green Buildings Council of the Philippines.

"This Green Building is LLDA's share in the protection of our environment and defines the very purpose of our work and mission, "Ibalik ang Luntiang Yaman at Diwa ng Lawa". It is a testimony of our commitment to preserve and protect the Earth and its ecosystems," said Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection and LLDA General Manager J.R. Nereus O. Acosta.

Designed by Architect Cascante, the two four-storey buildings interconnected by bridge ways on all levels, are "energy-efficient, climate-smart, ecologically adaptive and occupant-friendly", according to Acosta.

It stands on 3,021 sq. m of land with a gross floor area of 5,600 sq.m.

Its 149 sq. m. green roof planted with plants and small trees reduces the building's footprint or the area of the slab by 11%.

Acosta added that the building orientation of having the longest sides at the east-west axis minimizes heat gain and captures wind from the northeastern, southwestern and southeastern sides thus promoting natural ventilation in 86% of the total gross floor area.

Double low-emitting glass windows with argon gas boost energy efficiency and insulated walls prevent heat absorption thus rooms are cooler and air conditioning units do not have to be set very low.

"As a result of all these combined features, only 49% of our gross floor area require air-conditioning and we have reduced our power consumption by 12.5%. This definitely reduces our carbon footprint and in a way supports the Philippines' commitment in the Paris Agreement to help reduce global temperature rise by below 1.5 degrees Celcius."

The new headquarters also has its own waste water treatment facility. Water from the comfort rooms and sinks is recycled by passing through the aerated tank, reed bed, polishing pond and is finally collected in the constructed wetland. Natural plants and microorganisms in the wetland allow natural cleansing of the water which can be used to water plants.

Aside from the wetland, the building also has three (3) rainwater harvesting tanks with a capacity of 1,000 gallons each. After filtration, the collected water is used to flush toilets and urinals.

"The wetland and rainwater catchment has reduced our water consumption by 20%. This and the reduction in power consumption resulted to considerable savings for the office," said Acosta.

Pervious pavements, a materials recovery facility, solar-assisted air conditioning units, LED lighting for the entire building are the other green building features that the agency has employed.

"All these features put together translate to pleasant working conditions, increased efficiency and improved productivity for all our employees," he remarked. "These have put our office building in harmony with nature and our environment."

The LLDA Headquarters has received the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System certification in November 24, 2015.

BERDE is the National Voluntary Green Building Rating System in the Philippines developed by the Philippine Green Building Council (PHILGBC). The system is used to measure, verify, and monitor the environmental performance of buildings that exceed existing mandatory regulations and standards.###

A state-of-the-art forest nursery with the capacity to produce up to 30 million tree seedlings a year, will soon rise in the province of Laguna, which is home to the country’s premier institution of higher learning in forestry and environmental management.

This was after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently signed an agreement with the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) in Laguna to construct a P27.5-million Modern Mechanized Forest Nursery. The project is set to be completed within the year.

The agreement was in line with the implementation of a five-year project called “Integrated Research and Development Grant for High Value Forest Crops” that aims to produce high quality seeds to be used in the government’s National Greening Program (NGP).

NGP is the flagship reforestation program of the Aquino administration that aims to cover 1.5 million hectares of denuded forestland by the end of 2016.

However, the program was extended until 2028 by virtue of an executive order issued by President Benigno Aquino III to cover the remaining 7.1 million hectares of unproductive, denuded and degraded forestlands nationwide, which can contribute to environment-related risks such as soil erosion, landslides and flooding.

UP President Alfredo Pascual and DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones led the groundbreaking rites last week for the construction of the forest nursery, pursuant to a memorandum of agreement (MOA) earlier signed by Pascual and DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje.

According to Paje, the MOA was in keeping with the DENR’s push to tap biotechnology in the production of quality planting materials as a strategy to boost the NGP’s performance.

“We once more demonstrate our strong partnership through this endeavor,” Paje said, adding that the initiative was “another testament to invaluable role the UP system has played in the DENR’s efforts to raise the performance standards for its workers.”

In January, the DENR and UP launched the UP Program for Environmental Governance (UPPEG), a five-week intensive training meant to enhance the capacity of provincial and community environment and natural resources officers on environmental governance. The program consisted of six learning modules and involved 22 ranking UP professors as lecturers.

Under the latest DENR-UP collaboration, the DENR will fund the construction and operation of the mechanized nursery, situated on a three-hectare area within UP-Los Baños.

At the heart of the facility is the “seeder building,” which would process the sowing of seeds into the styro-blocks propagation container with customized seed pads, and treated through a misting area for watering before they are placed into the greenhouse.

There are also “growing areas” to be built in the area, consisting of greenhouses equipped with misting devices and other facilities that helps in the germination process of the germinants, commonly known as “sprouts.”

The “hardening area” is where gradual exposure of the seedlings into full sunlight is conducted to ensure the sturdiness and high-quality planting materials before they are planted into selected planting sites.

Once fully operational, the mechanized nursery is expected to produce and accommodate up to 30 million seedlings a year, depending on the variety of seedlings grown. ###

The Philippines, through the Forest Management Bureau (FMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) plays host to the 10th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Social Forestry Network or ASFN in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan from June 14-16, 2016.

“The Philippines was accorded the honor to host and chair this year’s ASFN meeting by Myanmar during the 9th ASFN meeting held last year in Inle Lake, Shah State, as part of the agreement among ASEAN member states that the hosting and chairmanship of the ASFN meeting shall be rotational and in an alphabetical order,” Forest Management Bureau Director Ricardo Calderon said.

Calderon said that ASFN is a government driven social forestry network in Southeast Asia with the main goal to strengthen ASEAN cooperation in Social Forestry through the sharing of information and knowledge.

He also said that ASFN links government forestry policy makers directly with network members from civil society, research organizations, academe, private sectors and experts of related fields.

“ASFN supports the development of the ASEAN Community,” Calderon stressed.

Expected to attend the 10th Annual ASFN Meeting are delegates from 10 ASEAN Member States including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam to be headed by their respective ASOF/ASFN Leaders and Focal Points.

Representative of the Implementing Partners of ASFN such as the Centre for People and Forests (RECOFTC) Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Non-Timber Forest Products-Exchange Program (NTFP-EP), World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), and the Southeast Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) are joining the meeting.

The agenda of the meeting include discussions on ASEAN Cooperation in Forestry, Promoting Policy and Practice of Social Forestry including reports by ASEAN Member States and Implementing Partners and development of Strategic Plan of Action of ASFN to support ASEAN and Global objectives.

The establishment of ASFN was endorsed by the ASEAN Senior Officials on Forestry (ASOF) during their 8th Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in August 2005. ###