Envi groups look forward to continued engagement with DENR on envi issues

August 30th, 2012 by

DAVAO CITY –  A month after the former Regional Executive Director  of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was replaced,  local environmentalists are eager to continue their engagement with the agency  under its new Executive Director,   Joselin Marcus Fragada.

Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (IDIS) Executive Director Ann Fuertes said that the series of discussions begun by DENR earlier in the year  should be continued so that the issues and concerns which were identified by environmental civil society organizations  (CSOs) would be monitored with regards to their resolution.

“Understandably, the regional DENR is in transition , following the assumption of the new Regional Director. But we look forward to the immediate  resumption of DENR’s Interfacing Dialogue with CSOs so that we can follow up the agreements previously agreed upon so that we can track if these have been resolved.”, said Fuertes.

Last January, the DENR XI had begun  an interfacing activity with various environmental  CSOs to find ways of collaboration among stakeholders for the management and protection of the natural resources in the region. The output of those discussions was the adoption of a matrix of issues and concerns , with their corresponding action points, which was constantly updated at every interfacing meeting.

“There was a positive vibe coming off from that activity because it allowed us CSOs to thresh out and clarify issues with the DENR in a participative and collaborative manner.”, recalled Fuertes.

“More importantly, it provided an opportunity for a convergence of activities from both sides, all for the goal of protecting the environment.”

Among the issues identified for resolution in the matrix  were qualified CSO representation in the Multipartite Monitoring Team (MMT) for banana  plantations in Region 11  and access of CSOs to MMT reports submitted  to the regional  Environmental Management Bureau  (EMB-XI) in the past five years.

Also in the  matrix  is a commitment from DENR XI to take care of the remaining budget needed for the Watershed Management Council (WMC) activity of delineating the city’s watershed areas.

“With the implementation of the Watershed Code already underway, it is imperative that the delineation of the areas protected by law should begin. Now that the City Government has already provided its own fund counterpart, it is about time that we follow up on the DENR’s commitment to  provide its own share of technical and financial support as agreed upon during the discussions.”, said Fuertes.(#)

Indigenous trees help save the watershed, says envi org

August 30th, 2012 by

DAVAO CITY – With  more and more  corporate social responsibility initiatives focusing on tree planting activities,  the Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (IDIS) is calling to prioritize the use of indigenous  species of trees in reforestation projects.

“The use of indigenous trees takes into account that the local ecology is more conducive for native trees.”, said IDIS Executive Director Ann Fuertes.  “If the goal of every reforestation activity is to recreate the forest ecosystem as close as possible to the original state of the forest, what better way to do this than by using native trees.”

Until recently, reforestation efforts in the Philippines were undertaken using exotic  species like gmelina and falcatta because they were easy to germinate and fast growing.

But environmentalists contend that the use of exotic species leads to a negative impact on the local ecology because these are usually invasive and dominant over native species.

“For instance, gmelinas are voracious nutrient absorbers. They deplete the environment of water and other nutrients that other plants need.”, Fuertes pointed out. “This is why conventional reforestation efforts failed in the past.  The use of exotic species failed to ensure forest biodiversity , leading to the failure of forest habitat restoration.”

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has also embraced this paradigm shift with the emphasis of its National Greening Program on planting indigenous trees.  By partnering with CSOs like IDIS, the DENR ensures the establishment of nurseries which will nurture indigenous tree saplings  to meet the project demand. Through the NGP , DENR hopes to plant 1.5 billion trees in around 1.5 million hectares of public land for six years, starting from 2011 to 2016.

In one such  nursery established in Brgy Tawantawan, members of IDIS’s partner people organization, the Mt. Tipolog Bantay Kinaiyahan Association (MTBKA), care for  various saplings of apitong, almaciga, lawaan and narra .These saplings will later be used as part of the rehabilitation efforts along the slopes of Mt. Tipolog.

“More important, is that the use of indigenous tree species  allows us to protect the watershed ecosystem. Since these trees have already adapted to the local soil and climate and generally require less water and fertilizer, the water in the underground aquifers will remain healthy and sufficient for generations of Dabawenyos.”, Fuertes said.  (#)

Aquino fails to deliver promise for environment

August 30th, 2012 by

MEMBERS of the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (Maas) gives President Benigno Simeon Aquino III a failing grade.

Dagohoy Magaway, Maas president, said the failing grade reflects the dismal record of the President for not fulfilling the promises he made during his electoral campaign, especially the banning of aerial spraying in banana plantations in the country.

Magaway said it has been two years since Aquino assumed his post but until now, he has not yet handed down an Executive Order banning aerial spraying which is pending before the Supreme Court.

“We’re very disappointed because until now thousands of rural communities are continuously suffering toxic pesticide drift coming from these spraying planes, while we await the court ruling,” Magaway said.

Magaway said according to National Task Force Against Aerial Spraying (NTFAAS), a national network of support groups backing up their campaign, the Department of Health (DOH) and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) have already reaffirmed their positions on the matter so that there is no reason for Aquino to ignore their request.

Chinkie Pelino, specialist of the Interface Development Interventions (Idis) Police Advocacy, said at the executive level, Aquino tasked the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) to consolidate all government actions related to this issue.

“But during the course of the consultation-workshop, the Maas was not invited to air their stand on the matter,” Pelino said, adding that this poses a concern for Maas as their position in banning aerial spray might be set aside in favor of the banana agricultural companies.

Magaway added that their members have already witnessed the resumption of aerial spraying in agricultural districts in Calinan, where Maas does not have a strong membership base.

Magaway recalled that in 2001, they received reports of three barangays in the Third District which use aerial spray.

The Maas and Idis reiterated their call to the President to fulfill his promise and stop the dangerous practice of aerial spraying in the country.

Magaway said if Aquino wants to be known in history as a President who stuck to the straight road, he should fulfill his campaign promises to bring environmental justice to the countless Filipinos. (Ivy C. Tejano, Sunstar Davao