Threats to the forest and biodiversity in Eastern Visayas will continue to be monitored and addressed as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 8 takes off with its intensified forest patrolling this year.

“This year, through the Landscape and Wildlife Indicators (LAWIN) Forest Biodiversity and Protection System, we shall strengthen the enforcement of our forest laws in partnership with the law enforcers so that violators are brought to the courts of justice,” OIC-Regional Executive Director, Tirso P. Parian, Jr, says.

DENR Enforcement Division Chief Forester Allen Cebuano says that data from forest patrol shows timber poaching and forestland conversion to upland farming are the major drivers of forest degradation. He added that effective forest protection should lead to the search and seizure of illegitimate lumber possessors, warehouses including conveyances, tools, implements, and other equipment as well as the criminal conviction of violators.

“LAWIN will take off this week with our 30 kilometers (km.) target for forest patrolling routes in the first quarter of the year. A 10 km. patrol route is targeted for areas within the jurisdiction of Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Borongan and another 20 km. for CENRO Palo. We hope to surpass our accomplishment in the previous year by not only documenting threats to forest and biodiversity but also in deterring future violators of environmental laws by filing cases against them in court,” Cebuano underscored.

DAO 2018-21 issued on October 3, 2018 by Secretary Roy Cimatu created the LAWIN Forest Biodiversity and Protection System which is a tool for forest patrolling by forest protection officers carried out through the use of a smartphone/tablet to record threats to forest and biodiversity and provide accurate feedback on the the condition of the forest. Data gathered is immediately transferred to the SMART Desktop in the Central Office for policy planning and formulation.