Press Releases

Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje called for sustained efforts among Filipinos in the fight against climate change, as the Philippines once again joins the Earth Hour movement on March 19.

“Climate change is our planet’s biggest environmental challenge, and to fight it requires mass participation across all continents, even in countries like the Philippines which has a very small carbon footprint,” Paje said.

“Earth Hour is but only one response by our country and the rest of humanity,” he added, referring to the global annual event where millions of people switch off their lights for one hour to show their concern for the planet.

The country has been participating in the Earth Hour since 2009, and is consistently one of the biggest advocates of what has been dubbed as the world’s largest climate movement organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Although it has smaller carbon footprint compared to industrialized nations, the Philippines is considered an important player in the fight against climate change being one of the countries most vulnerable to the global phenomenon.

Since joining the movement in 2009, the country consistently had the biggest Earth Hour participation and has been very active in the global fight against climate change.

“We have actually been ‘waking the talk’ beyond merely pledging to limit our carbon emissions,” Paje said.

He said the biggest action the government has taken was to implement the National Greening Program (NGP), the Aquino administration’s flagship reforestation project that is set to surpass its target of reforesting 1.5 million hectares of denuded lands by June this year.

“Our new forests will greatly increase the capacity of our carbon sink to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thereby mitigating climate change,” Paje said.

Paje noted that satellite data from 2002 to 2014 showed sea levels near the Philippines rising by more than 14 millimeters per year, or five times more than the global average.

“There is increased urgency to act on climate change, and while Earth Hour is symbolic, we must go beyond one hour each year,” he said, adding that the Philippines has been doing its share beyond local boundaries.

Paje cited how the country emphasized the importance of innovations in transferring useful technology and building climate-smart infrastructure during the United Nations Climate Change Summit in 2014.

He said this was followed in February 2015 when the Manila Call to Action on Climate Change was launched in Malacañang.

Also in 2015, the Philippines chaired a forum of vulnerable countries during the 21st session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change or COP21.

The forum resulted in the Manila-Paris Declaration of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, which called for being carbon-free and fully producing renewable energy by 2050, Paje said. #

Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje has announced that about one-third or 33 percent of management positions in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are now occupied by women.

Paje said women currently hold 269 of the 798 management positions in the agency, or 251 percent higher from the 107 positions recorded in 2008.

As the country observes Women’s Month this March, Paje said it is only fitting that the DENR recognize the important role of women in society and nation-building.

He said the growing number of women with management roles in the environment department was largely due to the Aquino administration’s strong commitment to Gender and Development to ensure fairness and equity in the workplace, allowing women to compete with men on equal basis.

“Gender equality has been a major policy that I pursued when I assumed office in 2010, and whatever accolade or recognition the DENR has been receiving either from local or international bodies is greatly attributed to the increasing role that women play in the DENR organization,” Paje said.

Paje noted that in 2012, the DENR received a “double upgrade” in a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) on corruption, based on interviews with 826 company executives representing large, medium and small enterprises nationwide. It was the first time since 2005 that the DENR got a positive rating in that survey.

Also in 2012, the Philippines ranked 42nd among 132 countries under the “strong performer” category in the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) prepared by Yale and Columbia Universities.

Just recently, the DENR central office became the first institution in the country to receive ISO 14001:2015 Certification from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a Switzerland-based international standard-setting body composed of representatives from national standards organizations of 164 member-countries.

ISO 14001 is an internationally agreed standard that sets out the requirements for an environmental management system. It helps organizations improve their environmental performance through more efficient use of resources and reduction of waste, gaining a competitive advantage and the trust of stakeholders.

Paje said these achievements would have not been possible without the support of DENR women executives, who supervise offices that are directly responsible for the implementation of environmental policies and programs.

He noted that “80 percent of assistant bureau directors are now occupied by women, and 37 percent of the division chiefs are women.”

According to the DENR’s Statistics and Data Resource Management Office, female top executives rose to 38 this year from 36 in 2015, ranging from the Secretary down to Bureau Directors and Assistant Directors, Administrators, General and Assistant General Managers and Service Directors, including Regional Directors (RDs) and Assistant Regional Directors (ARDs) and Provincial Environment and Natural Resource Officers (PENROS).

Female middle managers, consisting of Divisions Chiefs and Community Environment and Natural Resources Officers (CENROS), rose from 196 to 231 from 2015 to 2016, respectively.

Meanwhile, the DENR has awarded housing units to 55 employees, 34 of them are women, under the agency’s housing project dubbed Project HOPE.

This brings to 2,574 the total number of DENR workers who have availed of the housing units since the project was launched in 1998.

Project HOPE was launched in 1998 after the then Philippine Estates Authority (PEA) transferred to the DENR the housing units, which were part of the 21,000 socialized housing units built through a joint venture agreement between PEA and Filinvest Development Corporation in 1993.

Three more housing projects are being developed by the DENR management for its employees to avail, namely: the Garden Cottages in Tanay, Rizal (130 hectares); the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority Housing Project in Taguig City (5.7 hectares); and the Government Employees Housing Project in Muntinlupa City (78 hectares). #

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is tapping the power of wireless communications technology to expand conservation efforts within protected areas (PAs) across the country.

The agency launched on Thursday a web-based mobile application called Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System (LFBPS) that would provide accurate information about the status of PAs covered by Republic Act No. 7586, or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act.

LFBPS would enable park rangers and planners to access critical information in real time and share information about what they find in the field, and would allow wildlife authorities speedy access to information on hundreds of protected species and resources which they can use in identifying and prosecuting wildlife crime.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje welcomed the application as a way to facilitate the country’s wildlife conservation efforts.

“Technology and its applications, like the LFBPS, will surely allow us to cope with the different challenges the environment faces. We see it as a way for us to come up with better ways to reverse environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, and at a faster pace,” he said.

The debut of the mobile app was held at the Fuyot Spring National Park (FSNP) in Ilagan City, Isabela, one of the local government units that overlap in the 360,000-hectare Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park (NSMNP), the largest protected area in the country.

The launching rites was led by DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations Demetrio Ignacio and Isabela Gov. Faustino Dy, who also witnessed the signing of the guidelines and mechanics for the national adoption of the project by Forest Management Bureau Director Ricardo Calderon and Biodiversity Management Bureau Director Mundita Lim.

Project Lawin is developed by the DENR and the Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) Program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

It aims to improve the response mechanisms to address observed threats and ensures the sustainability of conservation efforts inside the country’s PAs over the long-term with active support from local communities in the monitoring and enforcement of wildlife laws, especially in areas that are considered hotspots for timber and wildlife poaching.

Pilot testing of the project started in 2015 in FSPN and in seven other B+WISER project sites, covering a total area of 442,000 hectares.

The other pilot sites were NSMNP in Region 2; Kaliwa-Upper Marikina Watersheds in Tanay, Rizal and General Nakar in Quezon province; Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro; Quinali “A” Watershed in Albay; Bago Watershed Forest Reserve in Negros Occidental; Mt. Kitanglad Natural Park in Bukidnon; and Mt. Apo Natural Park in Southern Mindanao.

At least 670 wildlife workers, consisting of resource and data managers and community monitors who are mostly indigenous peoples, were trained during the pilot testing.

The project’s system operates web-based, open-source software called “CyberTracker” for the data collection interface and the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) for data analysis, mapping and report generation.

Data can be transferred to Google maps and other tools for creation of actionable reports, which facilitate decision-making. Decision-makers at the regional and national level could easily access Lawin patrol reports generated at the field level.

During the pilot testing, the system was found to be effective in spotting the trends and patterns of wildlife species using Geographical Information System or GIS.

The data collected gives national and local planners a more detailed perspective of a PA’s biodiversity and how to manage them more intelligently and efficiently.

The system was also found to be helpful in enabling wildlife patrol rangers, which are mostly community volunteers, to quickly alert wildlife officers to recent clearing of wooded areas, and allows them to upload observations and photos of signs of illegal logging as evidence, and send these photos to concerned law enforcement agencies. #

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.#