Few have heard of Republic Act 7586, the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, that upholds the constitutional right of Filipinos to a balanced and healthy ecology, and RA 11038 that amends it, the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2018 (ENIPAS Act) that was signed into law in July 2018.
The amendment increased the protected areas in the country “from 13 to 107, where the additional 94 protected areas [expands] the covered protected land area from the current 800,000 hectares to 3.6 million hectares,” according to Forest Foundation Philippines.
The Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 2002 under two bilateral agreements between the U.S. and Philippine governments.
Last November, the Foundation partnered with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Biodiversity Management Bureau and Tanggol Kalikasan for a series of consultative workshops to craft revised implementing rules and regulations for the ENIPAS Act. These workshops were enabled by a Foundation grant to TK, which acted as workshop facilitator.
Also that month, through a capacity building activity, the Foundation trained DENR Climate Change Focal Persons on multilateral processes related to climate change, forests, and biodiversity.
The work the Foundation does is important for conserving our forests as natural habitats for diverse flora and fauna and for reducing the country’s carbon footprint. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions contribute to global warming; trees are carbon eaters and help sequester CO2.
Forest Foundation Philippines has protected and preserved forests in their four focal landscapes of the Sierra Madre, Palawan,-Samar, Leyte-Bukidnon, and Misamis Oriental.
It has “supported over 450 forest- and community-related projects” to date, contributed to the “improvement of the management of 1.5 million hectares of forest lands, the restoration of [some] 4,200 hectares of forests through the reintroduction of appropriate native species, the establishment of over 40 community-conserved areas, and creation of over 60 community enterprises.”
They also have projects on small islands: Ilin and Ambulong Islands in Occidental Mindoro, with Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc.; Polillo Islands in Quezon, with Polillo Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. and Institute of Social Order; Dinagat Island, with Dinagat Island Development Foundation/Balaod Mindanaw; and Siargao Island, with Sentro para sa Ikauunlad ng Katutubong Agham at Teknolohiya Inc.
Furthermore, the Foundation has allocated P32 million for mangrove reforestation outside their four focal landscapes. Mangroves are important because they are “ecosystems that provide livelihoods for coastal communities, as well as protection from waves and water movements” and they are “important in mitigating climate change,” according to information on their website.
How else does the Foundation give help? Apart from extending technical assistance, they give grants to organizations and individuals for forest conservation and protection projects; award scholarships to individuals who wish to pursue post-graduate studies on forest conservation; and partner with organizations on conservation programs.
They also engage with the public, notably through their “BFF Movement.” Best Friends of the Forest are millennial environment advocates, young people who have a love of nature and forests and who want to take active part in forest conservation. They participate in a series of activities including tree-growing, learning workshops, expression sessions, general assemblies, and exploring the Foundation’s focal landscapes.
As another component of their information campaign, late last year the Forest Foundation released a tree-themed planner that raises awareness about native trees, promotes their protection and conservation, and keeps you on time for your meetings.
‘Philippine Forest Blooms,’ dubbed a “native tree-spotting, green goals-setting, undated planner” aims to help you “discover some of the country’s beautiful native trees while fulfilling your green goals.” Illustrator Cynthia Bauzon-Arre created lavish illustrations of foliage and trees for the cover and inside pages.
The planner holds a wealth of information on trees. The local and scientific names of each tree are given, e.g. “Malabulak: Bombax ceiba L.” Flowering months, the area where the tree usually flourishes, and textual descriptions and visual depictions of the bark, leaves, and flowers make the learning experience interesting and engaging.
Through this and their many other initiatives, the Foundation fulfills its mission and helps the government and private groups achieve the objectives of the ENIPAS Act.
Visit their website at http://www.forestfoundation.ph, Facebook and Instagram at @forestfoundationph. See more of Cynthia Arre’s art at www.cynthiabauzonarre.com.
I think that I shall never see, a planner as lovely as a tree. FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO