“With the ocean holding about 97% of the Earth’s water and covers 70% of the planet, having aworking knowledge of the ocean’s role on the global effect of climate change and other weather-related natural hazards is a must. More so, scientific research becomes imperative if we want to properly utilize the resources our oceans have to offer while conserving it,” says Tirso P. Parian, Jr., OIC-Regional Executive Director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 8.
RED Parian issues this challenge as the country observes Month of the Ocean (MOO) this May by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 57 issued in 1999. The theme for this year’s observance is inspired by the United Nation’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development which is, “The Science We Need, for the Ocean We Want”. This highlights the need to protect our oceans, seas, and marine resources while utilizing them sustainably. “Likewise, the continuing effort for discoveries for its better understanding remains important, if not, urgently needed”, says RED Parian.
The yearly observance of MOO mandates the DENR and the Department of Agriculture through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) to spearhead the activities of MOO in collaboration with the different sectors of the society.
“The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recognizes every effort that answers our call for the conservation of our marine turtles locally known as pawikan”, says DENR VIII Regional Executive Director Tirso P. Parian, Jr.
Director Parian particularly lauds a fisherman from Sitio Omas, Brgy. San Isidro, Biliran, Biliran who turned-over a marine turtle to the Philippine National Police in his hometown. According to the fisherman, he found the pawikan trapped in his fish coral (bono-an). To ensure that the pawikan is back safely to its natural habitat, he decided to turn it over to the PNP who immediately coordinated with the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) Biliran for its release.
Per assessment of technical staff from PENRO Biliran, the pawikan was identified as Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas), measuring 43 cms in length and 42 cms in width. Before it was released, DENR metal tag with serial number PH1084K was placed on its right flipper. Staff from PENRO Biliran together with PNP personnel and some fishermen facilitated the release of the pawikan, the same day it was turned-over to authorities.
The DENR is encouraging the community to turn-over captured or rescued pawikan to authorities and report any sightings of the species to the nearest DENR office for proper care and immediate release to its natural habitat.
The green sea turtle is listed as endangered per DENR Administrative Order 2019-09 dated July 12, 2019, thus the government is moving for stronger conservation measures to address the continuing decline of marine turtles in the country.
“As we observe the Month of the Planet Earth, we encourage each one to contribute in their little ways any act that is directed towards restoring Mother Earth to its pristine, livable and healthy condition,” says Tirso P. Parian, Jr., OIC-Regional Executive Director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 8.
The observance of Earth Month this year carries the theme, “Doing our Fair Share to restore the Earth”. It is a general call for all to be mindful of pressing environmental issues that continue to hound planet Earth from climate change, water and air pollution, improper waste management, and many others. Unfortunately, most of these environmental issues can be traced back to human activities.
With the continuing threat brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is all the more reason for all stakeholders to push for an individual as well as collective action to usher in the new normal. One where we are already enlightened of the adverse impact of an ecological imbalance and motivates each one into concerted action and changed lifestyles.
“It is a challenge, not only for our leaders but for everyone to fully support and demonstrate a call to action for environmental protection. Collectively, there is no doubt that Mother Earth will be restored,” says Director Parian.
The DENR has lined up a series of activities for this month-long celebration which will be highlighted by the Earth Day celebration on April 22 as an international annual event to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Some of these activities are teach-ins in selected communities, Restore our Earth Tiktok Challenge and Adopt-a-forest campaign with partner stakeholders.
A year after it was closed due to COVID-19, the Lake Danao Natural Park (LDNP) in Ormoc City reopens to tourists and visitors.
Protected Area Superintendent (PASu) Merlyn Barte said starting March 31, 2021 the LDNP will accept up to seventy five (75) visitors a day, or 50% of the protected area’s carrying capacity of one hundred fifty (150) visitors daily.
The LDNP is offering amenities for overnight stay, small meetings and functions, photo shoots, nature appreciation, and activities such as kayaking and boating. A floating cottage which can accommodate up to forty (40) persons is also available to visitors. The LDNP collects fifty pesos as entrance fee. PASu Barte said visitors coming in to the park are required to present their Ormoc City QR codes and follow minimum health protocols.
The community and the people’s organizations within the PA celebrated the reopening of the ecotourism site hoping that they will be able to revive the livelihood activities they once depended upon to support their daily needs.
“Many have lost their source of income when LDNP was closed due to COVID-19. We are very happy that we will be able to earn income and restart our livelihood, even partially and under strict health protocols”, Barangay Danao Chairman Richard Impas says.
Mr. Reynaldo Franco, Chairman of LDNP Protected Area Management Board Technical Working Group (PAMB-TWG), said after months of restrictions amid the pandemic, the LDNP reopens with new developments. More plans, programs, and projects are to be implemented in partnership with the community and the local government unit before it fully reopens.
Meanwhile, the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) of Ormoc Alejandro Bautista invites tourists to visit the LDNP, known for its 148 hectares guitar-shaped lake, cool atmosphere, rich wildlife, and lush mountain ranges.
The LDNP is one of Eastern Visayas’ seven protected areas legislated under the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Act of 2018.
Beneficiaries of the Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP) ‘family approach’ in Tacloban City received their initial mobilization fee from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) of Leyte through its Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Palo contracted fifteen (15) families from barangays Paglaum, Camansihay, and San Roque in Tacloban City to establish a tree plantation of indigenous and fruit trees covering an aggregate area of ninety seven (97) hectares. Said families will be working on seedling production, plantation establishment, and maintenance and protection activities under a total contract price of over 1.9 million pesos.
In Barangay Paglaum, six (6) families are set to produce 525,000 fruit tree seedlings for a thirty (30) hectare plantation to be established under a contract price of P780,000.00. Also, three (3) families in Brgy. San Roque were contracted for the production of 6,500 fruit tree seedlings for planting in a 13-hectare ENGP site under a contract price of P338,000.00. In Brgy. Camansihay, six (6) families shall produce a total of 375,000 seedlings of indigenous trees for planting in an area of fifty four (54) hectares under a contract price of P864,000.00.
Recently, the beneficiaries received the initial 15% of their contract cost to finance their first activity which is seedling production. The DENR released P117,000.00 for the six families in Barangay Paglaum, P50,700 for the three (3) families in Brgy. San Roque, and P129,600 for the six (6) families in Barangay Camansihay. Said amount was divided by the families according to the species and the number of hectares they are set to establish.
According to Forester Loreta Baldonaza, Officer-in-charge of PENRO Leyte Management Division, succeeding payments will be released corresponding to the contracted families’ performance and their plantation’s survival rate of at least 85%.
“This new approach for the implementation of the National Greening Program is helpful to my family because it directly compensates our labor and efforts”, says Adelfa Balmes, a beneficiary from Brgy. Paglaum. “This mode inspires us to be more committed in performing the job expected from us”, she adds.
Forester Baldonaza enjoined the beneficiaries of the ENGP family approach to value the project that is expected to support the family’s daily needs while enhancing the condition of their environment.
The DENR is adopting the family approach as one of the modes of engaging Filipino families in the National Greening Program (NGP) in relation to a memorandum signed by DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu last May 6, 2020.