Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) marked today’s celebration of the World Wildlife Day with the unveiling of a life-size statue of an elephant made partly from the ashes of seized tusks it destroyed in a landmark action against ivory trade more than two years ago.

At the same time, the agency gave recognition to 97 individuals with Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards, for having supported the DENR’s campaign against illegal wildlife trade that resulted in the rescue or confiscation of about 2,270 heads of different species, other biodiversity byproducts, and the filing of charges against wildlife law violators.

“The actual value of this sculpture is priceless, because we cannot put a value to the thousands of elephants that were killed for their tusks,” said DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje.

Paje also said the sculpture will “remind everyone of the country’s strong support to the global efforts against elephant poaching and illegal ivory trade”.

The sculpture contains figures of a mother elephant and her calf, clinging to tusks that are crucial to their survival. It is located at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) in Quezon City, which serves as the headquarters of the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau.

In June 2013, the DENR destroyed at least four tons of smuggled elephant tusks using a road roller, making the Philippines the first country in Asia to conduct physical destruction of massive ivory stockpile in support of global efforts to stamp out illegal wildlife trade.

The pulverized tusks were later on cremated at a government animal incinerator to ensure complete destruction. The tusks were reduced to more than two tons of ashes after burning.

A few days after that historic event, Paje vowed to build a life-size sculpture of an elephant made from the ashes dedicated to the thousands of elephants killed for their tusks.

He also said the statue aims to enhance public awareness and support for worldwide efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade, as part of the country’s commitment to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).

The Geneva-based CITES is an international treaty developed in 1973 to regulate commercial trade in certain wildlife species, including the critically endangered elephants.
In 2013, the CITES Standing Committee has included the Philippines as one of eight countries of priority of concerns as regards illegal ivory trade, particularly its role as a trade route and transit country for elephant tusks.

The other seven are Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, which are considered as major sources of ivory in illicit trade; China (including Hong Kong) and Thailand as destinations of illegal ivory; and Malaysia and Vietnam as trade routes and transit countries.

The country’s decision to destroy its ivory stockpile earned commendations from former U.S. Secretary of State and now presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton, and the United Nations Environment Programme.

The elephant monument at the NAPWC depicts figures of a mother elephant and her calf, clinging to tusks which are crucial to an elephant’s survival. It was conceptualized by University of the Philippines Fine Arts graduate Janus Nuñez.

The unveiling of the statue of the elephant supports this year’s WWD celebration theme, “The future of wildlife is in our hands,” with global campaigns focusing mainly on the protection of African and Asian elephants.

The celebration of WWD commemorates the adoption of CITES as a multilateral treaty to protect endangered species of plants and animals. ###

The Philippine government is committed to pursue policy objectives that will ensure the preservation of its forests and stop deforestation, Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said on Tuesday.

“Despite fiscal limitations, the Philippines is seriously endeavoring to preserve its forests and reverse the trend of deforestation,” Paje said in his speech during the opening of the five-day Asia Pacific Forestry Week at the Fontana Hotel in Clark Freezone in Pampanga.

“We continue to pursue vital reforms through the imposition of forest protection measures and the rehabilitation of denuded forestlands,” he added.

Paje cited the National Greening Program (NGP) as among the measures the government is currently implementing to achieve its targets on forest rehabilitation.

Since 2011, he said, a total of 1,351,803 hectares of land have been reforested under the NGP, which is also part of the government’s climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives.

“The NGP goal is to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares from 2011-2016. Upon completion, this would translate to an absorption capacity of 30 million tons of carbon dioxide annually,” Paje pointed out.

Aside from the NGP, the Aquino administration also pursued an intensified anti-illegal logging campaign which significantly reduced by 88 percent the number of municipalities and cities in the country considered as illegal logging hotspots.

During the event that was attended by more than 1,000 delegates from over 30 countries, Paje expressed the willingness of the Philippine delegation to “share our experiences and best practices” on forest governance.

Paje also noted the “bold steps” undertaken by other nations within the Asia-Pacific region to combat deforestation, as pointed out in the 2015 Global Forest Resources Assessment made by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Citing the FAO report, Paje said that eight of 10 countries reported to have the greatest annual forest area gain are member countries of the Asia Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC), including the Philippines, which was ranked fifth in the list.

Despite such gains, Paje lamented that deforestation still occurs in some parts of the region, thus requiring innovation in forest governance.

“What is called for at this rapidly changing time is a dynamic and adaptable forest management paradigm that can adapt to the needs of the times,” Paje said.

The environment chief also called for more efforts in informing the public that “reducing deforestation is not incompatible with economic development.”

“Forests and the ecosystem services they provide serve to ensure the productivity in the other economic sectors and the very survival of forest-dependent communities in our region,” he said.

Paje, meanwhile, expressed his gratitude to delegates from 33 countries in the Asia Pacific region for giving the Philippines, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the opportunity to host the 26th session of the APFC with FAO.

He also acknowledge the participation of soon to be APFC members Brunei Darussalam and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea; international development agencies like the UN Forum on Forests and the International Tropical Timber Organization; and other partner organizations.

Paje said the AFFW was indeed a “golden opportunity” to bring together a large number of stakeholders under a single roof to deliberate on forestry issues of mutual concern, as well as to develop programs for collaborative action.#

More than 1 000 government and forestry and natural resources officials, and representatives of international and non-government organizations and forest industries from over 30 countries are expected to gather at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga from 22 to 26 February for Asia-Pacific Forestry Week 2016.

Spearheaded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) in partnership with the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Forestry Week 2016 will be among the largest and most important forestry events in the region this year. It will run in conjunction with the 26th session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission – one of six such regional assemblies supported by FAO – which convenes every two years to review progress in forestry development, discuss common issues and set new agendas for addressing natural resource management challenges in the region.

“The selection of the Philippines as host country for this year’s Asia-Pacific Forestry Week is very timely. We have much to share with our colleagues from our experience in implementing the first phase of the National Greening Program, through which we were able to reforest more than 1.3 million hectares from 2011-2015,” DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said.

“At the same time,” he added, “we also look forward to learning from other countries and international experts on how to improve the roll out of the expanded NGP and hit our 2028 target of reforesting an additional 7 million hectares of unproductive, denuded and degraded forestlands.”

According to FAO’s 2015 Global Forest Resources Assessment, the Philippines ranked fifth among 234 countries and territories for the greatest reported annual forest area gain, with an increase of 240 000 hectares per year between 2010 and 2015.

Growing our future!

Held only once every four years, the 2016 Forestry Week will focus on “growing our future” through effective integration of forestry with the other facets of sustainable development.

Patrick Durst, FAO’s Senior Forestry Officer for Asia and the Pacific, explains that, “Gone are the days forestry can be viewed as primarily an extractive sector. More than ever, forest managers and policy makers need to recognize and integrate the full range of benefits that forests generate, including contributions in enhancing food security and eliminating poverty, conserving biodiversity, mitigating climate change and strengthening resiliency to natural calamities.“

More than 70 workshops, seminars and side events will take place during Asia-Pacific Forestry Week 2016 and will serve as a springboard for inclusive dialogue on the implementation of commitments made under the Paris Agreement on climate change, future trade and market access arrangements, meeting the evolving needs and expectations of society with respect to forests, emerging institutional and governance issues and green investments.

“FAO is taking significant steps to support nations in sustainably managing the region’s forests while ensuring that long-term social, economic and environmental objectives are met,” said FAO Representative in the Philippines José Luis Fernández. “In the Philippines, we are working in close partnership with DENR’s Forest Management Bureau in the implementation of three projects that will facilitate the adoption of Forest and Landscape Restoration principles as well as the development of a National Forest Monitoring System Action Plan.”

For more information on the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week and the 26th session of the Asia Pacific Forestry Commission, please visit

The Ilocos Region now has three fully-automated air quality monitoring stations (AQMS) that measure gas and particulate pollution continuously and in real time in three strategic locations.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through its Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), recently caused the installation of differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS) equipment in the third AQMS in the region located at the headquarters of San Fernando City Police Office in La Union province.

This coming Feb. 12, the La Union AQMS will be inaugurated by the DENR-EMB, with DENR Assistant Secretary and concurrent EMB Director Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna, La Union Governor Manuel Ortega, San Fernando City Mayor Pablo Ortega, Police Regional Director Ericson Velasquez and DENR Regional Director Paquito Moreno expected to grace the event.

According to EMB Regional Director Ma. Victoria V. Abrera, the installation of the third DOAS system in Region 1 was by virtue of a memorandum of agreement signed by the regional offices of the DENR and the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the city government of San Fernando.

“This will help strengthen the city’s air quality monitoring, and will further boost EMB’s collaborative anti-air pollution campaign in Northern Luzon,” Abrera said. “By having real-time results, the city can make better plans to address its air pollution situation.”

Abrera said the state-of-the-art DOAS equipment installed in La Union is by far the third air quality monitoring station in the region, measuring six pollution parameters, namely: nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, particulate matter of 10 microns in diameter or PM10, and PM2.5. The first two are located in Barangay Anonas in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan and in Batac, Ilocos Norte but only measure two parameters, PM 10 and PM 2.5,” Abrera said.

The PNP, through its Pulis Kalikasan Patrol, has agreed to support the environmental project by providing space, security service and allowing the EMB to install, construct and operate the station free of charge.

Meanwhile, the city government of San Fernando will assist the environment regional office in the conduct of air quality monitoring, shoulder the power cost of the station, and make use of the air quality monitoring results in the development and implementation of programs relative to the objectives of the EMB clean air program.###

PARIS - With only a few days left before the historic UN climate change conference ends, the Philippines has called on other countries for failing to include crucial adaptation finance in the current draft of the Paris agreement.

"The Philippine delegation is seriously concerned about the fact that there is not enough provision in the draft Paris agreement that provides adaptation finance for the developing countries most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change,” Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said during a high-level meeting held in Le Bourget on December 8.

More than 190 countries have embarked on two weeks of negotiations to hammer out a new universal climate pact that will specify tracks of finance, mitigation and adaptation actions from 2020 and beyond.

Even after the first week of the talks have ended on December 5, there remains no clear language capturing the mobilization of adaptation funds for countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Paje pointed out that there was no reference to the amount of finance needed for adaptation in Article 6, which covers the element of finance in the new climate deal.

“My delegation hereby further intervenes to ensure clear reference to a collective target for adaptation," the environment chief told the assembly.

Paje said there should be a collective target for adaptation with a “solid quantitative goal,” or a particular amount for adaptation finance that should be reviewed every five years.

According to Paje, predictable financing sources are critical for the implementation of initiatives like technology transfer and capacity-building innovations to enable the country to adapt effectively to climate change impacts.

At the same time, Paje said actions that will limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, which now enjoy the support of 112 nations, must be fast-tracked and sustained despite the setback caused by the failure of countries to agree on the review of the 2-degrees Celsius goal.

Such review would have provided scientific evidence for the necessity of increasing mitigation targets, he said.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), an advocacy coalition of 43 middle income and developing small-island nations led by the Philippines, has pushed for the continued adoption of 1.5-degrees Celsius goal even after the setback.

Paje also emphasized that the climate crisis does not spare anyone and will impact all countries whether developed, developing or least developed.

Thus, he said, it is important for the 195 territories participating in the negotiations to work in solidarity in establishing the loss and damage mechanism, increasing national mitigation actions and accelerating capacity development for adaptation.

The Philippine delegation, through its lead negotiator Climate Change Commissioner Vice-Chair Emmanuel de Guzman, ensures that the initiatives of the Philippines on behalf of the highly-vulnerable countries comprising the CVF, are strongly reflected in the Paris agreement.###

Link to video of Sec Paje