Best of our wild blogs: 10 Dec 13

White comb of the Dwarf Honeybee Apis andreniformis
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Butterflies Galore! : Common Mormon
from Butterflies of Singapore

Food Secure India
a website by four students who attended the Sunburst Enviroment Programme in Singapore

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Environmentalists hail China’s banquet ban on shark fin

AFP South China Morning Post 9 Dec 13;

Environmentalists hailed on Monday a Chinese government ban on serving shark’s fin, bird’s nest soup and other wild animal products at official functions, saying it will set a precedent that will help protect endangered species.

China’s ruling Communist Party announced the ban as part of a sweeping government crackdown on corruption, excessive spending and extravagance.

An official notice from the party’s Central Committee and the State Council, China’s cabinet, released on Sunday “ruled out dishes containing shark fins, bird nests and wild animal products in official reception dinners”.

“I think it is great. I think it is extremely important for a whole bunch of reasons,” said Matthew Durnin, a former director of science at the Nature Conservancy, who has spent 20 years in China working on projects concerning endangered species.

“With sharks particularly, they are an apex predator, they are very important. Lots of systems and animals are getting destroyed in the oceans.

“Something that is at this higher level in China really sets a precedent that needs to be set,” he said in Beijing.

Shark fin soup has long been a luxury enjoyed by China’s wealthy, but environmentalists say shark populations around the world have been decimated by its consumption.

Durnin said he believed Beijing would enforce the new ruling, as concerns over the environmental impact of such habits had become “very high profile” in recent years.

Huge banquets are commonly held by local officials and state-owned companies in China to show off wealth and status to visiting guests, and expensive dishes such as shark’s fin have long been staples of the occasions.

Yao Ming, the former NBA basketball player who is possibly China’s biggest ever sports star, pledged to stop eating shark fin in 2006 and two years ago launched a campaign urging Chinese to do the same.

“It’s a commendable decision and a brave one that the Chinese government has taken,” said Alex Hofford, executive director of the marine conservation group MyOcean, based in the southern Chinese territory of Hong Kong.

The decision was “hugely significant”, he said.

“It’s going to have a great impact on society, because what the government does shows leadership in society and then the corporate sector will quickly follow suit,” Hofford said.

“From a cultural point of view, it’s pretty important that they... recognise how outdated traditions can be left by the wayside eventually like footbinding and slavery - why not shark fins?” he said.

“It doesn’t really matter if it is for environmental (reasons) or for curbing official extravagance, as long as the job gets done,” he said.

The decision would have a “massive impact” on some restaurants serving shark fin, said Gary Stokes, Hong Kong coordinator for the conservation campaign group Sea Shepherd.

“The reason why they’re doing it mainly is austerity cuts, however the ramifications it’s going to have on conservation to the sharks is huge,” he added.

The new rules were intended “to provide diligence, fight extravagance, and to build a clean government”, the official announcement on Sunday said.

The detailed document also bars expensive liquors and cigarettes from being offered at local authority receptions.

Officials below provincial level are banned from staying in hotel suites on business trips, while local hosts are forbidden to give them cash, securities or souvenirs as gifts.

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Malaysia floods: Waters receding in all affected states

The Star 9 Dec 13;

KUALA LUMPUR: The flood situation in several states are improving, including in Terengganu where several major roads in the state have been re-opened to traffic.

The state Public Works Department reported that the main roads, namely Kuala Terengganu-Kuantan, Jerangau-Jabor Highway and Jalan Pantai could be used by all vehicles.

The state Drainage and Irrigation Department reported that water levels at all major rivers in Terengganu were below the warning level.

The number of flood victims at relief centres in the state was also decreasing, with only 15,876 people still at the centres, compared to 22,617 earlier in the day.

According to the National Security Council (MKN) portal, they comprised 3,475 families at 45 relief centres in six districts in the state, including Dungun, Kemaman, Kuala Terengganu and Marang.

Kemaman recorded the highest number of victims who had returned home at 7,534 people this evening, as compared to 13,335 people who were still staying in relief centres.

Prior to this, Kemaman recorded the highest number of flood victims at relief centres, namely 19,869 people from 4,901 families.

In Dungun, the number of flood victims also went down, with 2,512 people still at relief centres this evening, compared to 2,719 people in the morning.

In Kuala Terengganu, six victims from a family were still staying at the relief centre in SK Felda Belara, and in the district of Marang, the situation remained the same with 23 victims form eight families still staying at the relief centre in SK Pasir Puteh.

In JOHOR BARU, only seven relief centres were still open in Segamat in the evening, with 449 victims from 114 families.

The centres were Balai Raya Kampung Sanglang, Balai Raya Kampung Tandong, SK Kampung Spang Loi, Balai Raya Gemereh IV (Batu Badak), Balai Raya Kampung Gemereh III, Balai Raya Pogoh 2 and Sekolah Agama Kampung Kuala Paya.

The Linau Kechil community hall in Batu Pahat and the Parit Stan community hall in Pontian which were opened this morning, were closed and all flood victims were allowed to return home.

In PAHANG, the number of flood victims placed at relief centres in the state had gone down to 32,189 people, while all relief centres in Raub were closed as floods in the district had fully receded.

According to police, all 137 flood victims at seven relief centres in Raub were allowed to go home this afternoon.

"As of 5pm, 32,189 flood victims from 9,879 families were still at 132 centres in eight districts which were affected by flood," a spokesman told Bernama.

Kuantan has the dubious honour of having the most number of flood victims at 26,397 people in 34 relief centres.

In Pekan, there were still 3,182 victims at 34 relief centres, Temerloh (1,049/23 centres), Maran (839/17 centres), Jerantut (456/10 centres), Bera (170/seven centres), Lipis (60/five centres) and Rompin (36/two centres).

Meanwhile, several main roads were still closed to all vehicles, among others, at Km14 Jalan Temerloh-Bahau and Jalan Jerantut-Kuala Lipis (Kampung Sepial). - Bernama

Floods: Further improvement in Johor
Kathleen Ann Kili The Star 10 Dec 13;

JOHOR BARU: The flood situation in the state has steadily improved, with relief centres in most affected districts shutting down except in Segamat, at 6am Tuesday.

A spokesman from the state flood operations centre said only seven relief centres in Segamat remained open for 301 victims from 71 families.

He added that with two other relief centres closed in Segamat, the victims seeking shelter there had dropped by approximately 38% compared with Monday.

"Many of the victims from several affected districts have returned home and started conducting restoration and cleanup works at their respective homes.

"If the weather remains sunny like the past two days, we are confident that more centres will be closed by today (Tuesday)," he said when contacted.

He also said state Welfare department did not report of any food or water shortage for victims at the districts hit by the floods throughout the past week.

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Malaysia: 'bombed' fish worth RM1,450 seized

New Straits Times 10 Dec 13;

SEMPORNA: Marine police seized about 200kg of fish, worth RM1,450, at a wet market here on Sunday.

Sabah marine commander ACP Mohammad Madun said the fish was believed to have been caught using explosives.

"The Op Cantas Khas with the district Fisheries Department aims to prevent fishmongers from selling fish that had been 'bombed' to consumers. The public and the community living along the coastline, especially here, can provide information on fish bombing activities to the marine police."

Most of the vendors escaped during the operation which involved 17 marine police and four fisheries officers.

Fish "bombing" is destructive to the coral reef ecosystem as it destroys the surrounding habitat.

Mohammad said they would work with the Fisheries Department to tackle such activities in Sabah waters.

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Indonesia: Fragile Comeback Among Kutai Orangutan Population

Jakarta Globe 10 Dec 13;

A prime habitat for the endangered orangutan in East Kalimantan’s Kutai National Park has only just recovered from a series of major fires that tore through the area in the 1980s, a conservationist says.

Anne. R. Russon, the director of the Kutai Orangutan Project, told on Monday that following the fires of 1982-1983 and 1987-1988, “the conservation area is already in recovery.”

She said one indicator of the recovery was the increase in the local orangutan population.

Russon, a researcher from York University in Toronto who has been researching orangutans in Kalimantan for 25 years, four of them in Kutai, cautioned that the national park still faced a lot of dangers that could also threaten the orangutan population.

“We’re grateful that the source of food for orangutans in Kutai National Park is improving, but I’m still worried about the hunting and the conflict with coal and palm oil companies, which can disturb the endangered species,” she said.

“I am very concerned that orangutan hunting and torture still happens because the population of orangutans in the wild has been reduced to only 40,000 to 45,000 individuals.”

Russon said there were between 1,000 and 2,000 orangutan in the 198,629-hectare national park that straddles the three districts of East Kutai, Kutai Kartanegara and Bontang, but that the number of cases of people killing orangutans had stoked international concern.

She said that during her research, she found indigenous groups still hunting orangutans for their meat. Reports of the apes being killed for food are much rarer than reports of deaths at the hands of farmers or plantation workers who consider them pests.

The latest recorded orangutan killing occurred on Nov. 3, reported, when two residents of Pontianak, West Kalimantan, were charged by police for allegedly killing and eating an orangutan.

They were released last week after initially facing the possibility of up to five years in prison for violating the 1990 Natural Resources Conservation Law.

Authorities have recorded at least four cases of people killing endangered orangutans in and around the Pontianak within the past four years.

In 2010, a female orangutan died in Pontianak’s Sungai Pinyuh subdistrict after being captured by villagers with her baby.

In 2012, another orangutan was killed near Pontianak’s Parit Wak Dongkak subdistrict after sustaining serious burns when locals set a tree near the orangutan’s location on fire. The animal died while being treated for its injuries.

In October this year, an orangutan was found dead in Pontianak’s Peniraman village, with its skull reportedly bashed in.

Orangutans are faced with extinction from poaching and the rapid destruction of their forest habitat, driven largely by land clearance for palm oil and paper plantations.

Wildlife experts warn that shrinking habitats have increased contact between the forest-dwelling orangutan and villagers and is the primary cause of an upswing in human-on-animal violence in Kalimantan and Sumatra.

Illegal Timber Seizures a Drop in the Ocean at Kutai National Park
Tunggadewa Mattangkilang Jakarta Globe 9 Dec 13;

Forestry police in East Kalimantan’s Kutai National Park have this year managed to confiscate a total of 80 cubic meters of illegally logged timber, much of it endangered species.

Hernowo, chief of management for the park’s Sangata I area said on Sunday that the Rp 600 million ($50,000) worth of timber they were able to secure from illegal loggers this year was a small amount in comparison to the estimated total illegal logging in the park.

“Those [were secured] from the regular patrol team and the joint team. There are many other cases that are yet to be revealed, because that timber was gathered from an area of 42,000 hectares, which is guarded by only 20 people,” said Hernowo, adding that just six suspects had been arrested this year to date.

“Most of them [illegal loggers] cut Borneo ironwood and meranti and the price at which it is sold is very high.”

The Borneo ironwood tree, known locally as ulin , was the single most targeted timber species in the park, because of high demand for it in East Asia, where it is typically smuggled by way of Malaysia.

The wood, described as one of the densest and most durable timbers in the world, typically sells for around $2,000 per cubic meter abroad, but it is banned for export by the Indonesian government.

In addition to insufficient law enforcement officers in the area, the existence of communities living inside the Kutai National Park was among the greatest contributing factors hampering the elimination of illegal logging in the park, Hernowo said. In many cases, he said, local residents work together with illegal loggers, warning them of any patrol officers.

According to data by the Central Statistics Agency (BSP), a total of 26,800 people have been living inside the national park since the 1990s, where they make a living out of farming and breeding livestock.

“However, lands inside the national park are mostly owned by employees of companies who had purchased the land from local residents who no longer live there,” he said.

The Kutai National Park has a total area of approximately 199,000 hectares, and comprises coastal mangroves, lowlands rainforest and freshwater swamps.

It is among the most important conservation areas in the country with vulnerable and rare fauna making their home within its borders, including orangutan and proboscis monkey.

Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said last week illegal logging had become a major threat to the nation, with the potential to accelerate extinctions and worsen flooding.

“Landslides and floods will continue to haunt [Indonesia] and Indonesian animals will become extinct if this [illegal logging] continues,” Zulkifli said during National Tree-Planting Day in West Sumatra on Wednesday.

He added that discussions on the draft bill on prevention and eradication of illegal logging, which includes severe penalties for forestry crimes, was still ongoing, and that he hoped the bill would soon be ratified.

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Indonesia: Tighter Rules for Bali Starling Trade

Ari Susanto Jakarta Globe 10 Dec 13;

Solo. Conservation officials in Solo, Central Java, have imposed new rules for the trade in the critically endangered Bali starling, in a bid to stamp out the illegal practice of passing off wild-caught birds as captive-bred ones.

Chrystanto, the head of the Central Java Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), said on Sunday that the regulation, taking effect immediately, would give his office full authority to certify the origin of birds destined for the pet trade.

“Before today, these certificates were issued by each farm registered as a bird-breeding facility,” he said.

“But we found fake documents being issued by unregistered breeders, indicating they may be involved in illegal trading.”

The certificates issued by the BKSDA are printed on the same type of paper used to print money and come with a watermark, making them virtually impossible to forge, Chrystanto said.

He added that only registered breeders would be allowed to obtain the certificates, which are required when transacting the sale of the Bali starling, whose trade is tightly regulated.

Samino, a registered Bali starling breeder from the Lintang Songo bird farm in Solo, welcomed the new measure, saying illegal traders had frequently issued fraudulent certificates bearing his farm’s name to make it appear as though they had obtained their birds from him.

“They produce these certificates using my name as if the birds were bred by me,” he said. “I hope the new, secure certificate from the BKSDA will ensure that only legally bred birds are permitted for trade.”

Demand in the pet market for the Bali starling, a member of the myna family with an all-white body, black wing and tail tips, and dramatic patches of dark-blue skin around the eyes, has long been fueled by the bird’s rarity.

The starling is found in the wild only in Bali and is protected by law. Poaching of the bird reached such critical levels in the 1990s and early 2000s that by 2005, there were estimated to be only six individuals left in the wild, according to the BKSDA.

To revive the population, conservation authorities allowed breeders who already owned captive starlings to sell them in the pet trade, previously prohibited, in exchange for submitting 10 percent of their birds for release back into the wild in Bali.

Solo has 46 registered Bali starling farms with a combined 900 birds, the most of any city in Indonesia.

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Philippines environment department to provide mangrove saplings

DENR 7 to provide mangrove saplings
The Visayan Daily Star Negros Oriental 10 Dec 13;

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 7 will provide mangrove seedlings and saplings to local government units in Central Visayas to protect coasts from storm surges, a government press release said.

DENR 7 regional executive director Isabelo Montejo said LGUs that want to help plant mangroves should coordinate with their Community Environment and Natural Resources Office for seedlings and saplings.

He added the DENR will help identify suitable planting sites for mangroves.

He said that typhoon “Yolanda” has taught a lesson that storm surges could happen and have devastating effects to communities and coastlines. “It is high time that we reflect on the degraded coastal forest and how we could regenerate it through mangrove reforestation to make our coastlines less vulnerable to extreme weather events, Montejo said in the press release.

He said storm surges, or sea waters carried or lifted by strong winds to engulf coastal areas, occurred in Tacloban City and Dulag town in Leyte; Guiuan, Llorente and Balangiga towns in Eastern Samar; and Basey in Samar at the height of “Yolanda” a month ago.

Rep. Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu, 4th District) said Bantayan Island off northern Cebu mainland was fortunate it was not hit by a storm surge because it was low tide at the time the typhoon made landfall.

Montejo said mangroves, ranging from small shrubs to tall trees, thrive in salty environment, are woody and bear seeds called propagules. They grow along sheltered inter-tidal coastlines and in association with estuaries and lagoons, he added.

Aside from protection against several causes of calamities, mangroves can increase food production because it provides nursery grounds for fish, prawns and crabs, and support fisheries production in coastal areas.

Mangroves have extensive rooting structures that slow water movement to trap sediments. Pollutants washed from the land, particularly those that adhered to sediment particles, are filtered and absorbed by mangroves. The trees anchor the soil and absorb and dissipate the energy of the waves, slowing their passage in land, the press release added.*

Viewpoint: ‘Green wall’
Juan L. Mercado Philippine Daily Inquirer 9 Dec 13;

They call it—what? “The green wall,” our banker friend said. He oversees banks in the Visayas. Mangroves in Eastern Samar buffered the storm surge that killed thousands elsewhere, his clients stated.

That’s correct, noted Neil Chatterjee writing for Bloomberg. In Southeast Asia, replanted mangroves are getting credit for protecting communities against tsunamis and supertyphoons such as “Yolanda” in the Philippines. They trim greenhouse gas emissions.

Mangrove regeneration in Northern Samar minimized damage from the Nov. 8 typhoon, Trowel Development Foundation reports. Planting 30 coastal trees, per 100 square meters, may reduce the flow of a tsunami up to 90 percent, the journal Science concludes from a study of the 2004 tsunami that killed 220,000 people in Aceh, Indonesia.

We protected mangroves against illegal cutting, e-mailed Leonardo Rosario, a development consultant on the Northern Samar project. Areas surrounding fish farms were planted with native mangrove species. They buffered residents and fish farms from the brute force of Yolanda.
Mangroves in the Philippines, however, are cut or paved over with concrete at a rate of 1 percent a year. They’re “very much degraded,” notes Daniel Murdiyarso, a forestry scientist at the Bogor, Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research. Indonesia’s mangrove loss is four times higher than the government’s figure.

Had the mangroves in Leyte and Eastern Samar been conserved, the storm surge would have been dissipated by 70 to 80 percent of its strength, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje estimates. The devastation of Tacloban, which faces open seas, was aggravated because no mangroves provided a buffer. Affected coastlines once had extensive mangroves and beach forest areas. But most were converted into squatter settlements, others for projects.

President Aquino directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to “earmark P350 million for the restoration of the ‘green wall.’” Priority will focus on Leyte. “Tacloban is a major concern given its being a major population center. But the undertaking will cover practically the entire eastern seaboard of Eastern Visayas,” Paje says.

Mangroves on marine coasts and estuaries may help low-lying coastal areas adapt to rising sea levels, which could uproot 13.6 million Filipinos by 2050, the Asian Development Bank projected in an earlier study titled “Addressing Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific.”
Countries like the Philippines must redo earlier estimates of a 20-centimeter rise in sea level. It will probably double. And this threat runs “along the Pacific seaboard: from Samar to eastern Mindanao,” Wendy Clavano wrote in “Environmental Science for Social Change.”

Not everyone agrees. “I’ve been in far too many disaster areas as a member of the Unesco International Tsunami Survey Team,” said Brian McAdoo, professor of science at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. “And I’ve seen too many coastal forests overwhelmed to put much faith in trees being effective defenses against a tsunami.”

Article 51 of the Philippine Water Code (Presidential Decree No. 1067) bars people from building in shores of the seas and lakes throughout their entire length and within a zone of three meters in urban areas. That goes up to 20 meters in agricultural areas and 40 meters in forest areas, “along their margins (and) are subject to the easement of public use in the interest of recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing and salvage.”

But it is a law honored more in the breach than in the observance. Now, the 5,924—and still rising—Yolanda deaths require political reform. “The onus is on local government
officials to restore their mangrove areas and beach forests,” Paje says. It is at the local level where reform takes root or withers.

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late,” Shakespeare once said. Yolanda
clobbered us before what the world’s top scientist on mangroves has been insisting all along started to sink in.

She is a Filipino, Time Magazine pointed out. In its 2008 cover story on 100 of the world’s top environmental scientists, Time reported about Jurgenne Primavera, former senior scientist at Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center in Panay, campaigning to protect mangrove forests that act as a crucial buffer zone between land and sea.

Roughly a fourth of mangrove forests here have disappeared since 1980. Time’s Hanna Beech noted in her report on Primavera: One of aquafarming’s side effects is to wreck mangroves—a plant network that sponges nasty effluents and are a barricade against typhoons and tsunamis. The propensity to introduce exotic seafood species into local habitats—as opposed to farming native species—can also badly damage delicate ecosystems.

Save some mangroves so aquaculture flourishes sustainably, Primavera urges in the just-published “Manual on Community-based Mangrove Rehabilitation.” Backed by the Zoological Society of London, the book distills lessons from rearing 58,000 seedlings of a dozen mangrove species in on-site nurseries. Some, 100,000 wildings and nursery seedlings were planted by 4,000 volunteers from nongovernment organizations, church groups, etc. It stitches biophysical and sociopolitical “do’s and don’ts” when trying to build “a green wall.” As interest in rehabilitating mangroves grows in the wake of the devastation from Yolanda, search the Net for this link:,2261,AR.html

But then, when did countries ever listen to their own prophets?

Beach forests and greening the Philippines
Jose Rene C. Gayo Business World Online 9 Dec 13;

I HAVE gone to Palawan at least once a month over the past two years. I also get a chance to travel to other parts of the Philippines because of the work I do. Every time I fly over Palawan, I wonder why this province managed to maintain much of its forests. This is a startling contrast to the other parts of the Philippines where one can see bald and cogonal "forest lands."
Of course, we are too familiar with forest on those hills and mountains or at least that is what our mind conjures as images of the forest. But lately, I observed a different type of forest. Maybe it was just the mental images that failed me to see that indeed there is a different type of forest. These are beach forests. These are usually forested by mangroves. In some areas agoho trees are the predominant forest species like those I saw in Real, Quezon; Pundaquit, Zambales; and Agoo, La Union.

The mangroves (nipa, by the way, is also a type of mangrove) are predominant species that usually cover the tidal flat lands and wetlands inland where sea water still manage to penetrate during high tides. Much of our beach forests are now gone, "thanks" to conversion of these tidal areas into fishponds or simply illegal logging for charcoal and wood. I was informed that wood from mangroves have very high BTUs (British Thermal Units) and is therefore a good fuel source. Thus, these were the favorites of olden bakeries that made use of brick ovens or kilns.

We forgot one important function of these mangrove forests until we saw on TV the killer tsunami that hit Indonesia, Thailand, and India a few years ago. Areas that were protected by mangrove forests suffered little damage compared to those areas exposed to the open sea.

Of late, we have seen in vivid images of the damage wrought by typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan). In one TV report, it was said that the town of McArthur in Eastern Samar suffered less damage because of a mangrove forest in front of it. Just one more proof what these beach forests can do.

Mangroves also function for the maintenance of biodiversity, both on land and in the sea. It harbors many types of birds, insects, and plants. It also functions as a breeding ground for many marine species. If these mangrove forests are located near areas with industrial pollution, they also serve as "cleaners" of dirty water. With the advent of climate change, they also serve as effective carbon sinks that suck carbon dioxide from the air and store it as wood.

With the advent of ecotourism, well managed and preserved mangrove forests have been the attraction for tourists. I have seen this myself in my hometown, Tanjay in Negros Oriental. It was only last year that I had a chance to visit a mangrove forest there because they have built a walkway inside the forest. This has now started to attract tourists to complement the whale and dolphin watching in Bais City.

One of the arguments put forward in the debates related to the Reproductive Health Law is that while land is fixed, the population keeps on growing. We can’t increase the size of land in the Philippines. The logic seems right until I saw from the plane on a trip to Palawan how much more land we have if we can reclaim the tidal flats. And nature is doing this for us if we leave the mangroves to thrive. More land can be reclaimed if there is a serious effort to reforest the beaches and tidal flats.

The government’s efforts towards the National Greening Program should include the reforestation and preservation of our beach forests. By enlisting communities in these areas and awarding them with certificates of tenure or community-based forest management agreements, thousands of poor from these fishing villages will be given gainful employment to propagate seedlings, to plant them, and to maintain the trees. Later on, they can also be paid via carbon credits based on the volume of carbon offsets.

What is important here is that government should tap private sector participation in this program since government has a very questionable track record in implementing reforestation programs, much less in guarding our forests. Just take a look at what is happening in Compostela Valley and the other areas in the Philippines struck by killer floods. If the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is doing its job, then the illegal logging would not have happened. It has been mandated to protect, preserve, and enhance the environment including our forests. But all these years, our forests are dwindling, yet hundreds of billions of pesos have been spent for it, including foreign aid money. This is simple proof that the DENR just can’t do this job alone or they have to do things different from what they used to do. Talk about thinking out of the box?

Sustainable forests are working in other countries. It generates billions of dollars for those countries who plant, harvest, and export these products globally. Why can’t the Philippines do it since we are in a tropical country? While it takes 60 to 70 years for a temperate country to harvest its trees, in the Philippines we can do it in eight to 12 years.

I have said it before and say it again. The great disservice to the development of our forest industry is the total log ban. What we need to do is to define which areas are for permanent forests and leaving the rest for production forests. Yet, until today we don’t have a land use policy. It’s about time we enact into law a National Land Use Policy.

There is talk of a Visayas version of a Marshall Plan to help rehabilitate the areas affected by the earthquake and the recent super-typhoon. I hope our government policy makers and private sector groups involved consider a serious reforestation plan for our mountains and beaches (including tidal flats). Such a project can generate thousands of jobs and billions of pesos in potential revenues from tree farming and carbon trading schemes.

(This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines. The author is a member of the MAP Agribusiness and Countryside Development Committee, and is the Project Manager of the Farm Business School project of MAP and the Dean of the MFI Farm Business School. Feedback can be sent to and For previous articles, visit

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