PNOy’s log ban implementation is the key to success-Zubiri

By Jason de Asis


SENATE OFFICE, Manila, February 5, 2011-Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, lauded President Aquino's Executive Order 23 declaring a moratorium on cutting and harvesting of timber in natural and residual forests nationwide, saying that the country lost  too much forests and reported that only less than 3 million hectares of closed canopy forest is left or just 20% of 15 million hectares of classified forestland.


He said that the victims of deforestation have long been waiting for this log ban in the country where the deforestation has claimed many lives and properties that the United Nations has declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests.


“It is very timely for nationwide log ban to give time the country’s foresters and villagers to determine who are legal and illegal, enforce the responsibilities and declare the extent to which legal loggers can exercise their privilege,” he said, adding that the citizenry and forests need a respite from the assaults brought about by illegal logging where he cited the Department of Natural and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as the lead implementing agency.


"Since August last year, only a few Timber License Agreements (TLA) are operating and there have been no approvals. The end of the TLA regime however, did not stop illegal logging when former TLA areas became so-called open access forests. However, through EO 23, the areas covered by the expired TLAs would not turn into free-for-all logging areas,” Zubiri said.


He exulted President Aquino for responding to deforestation where he said that it aggravates the effects of heavy rainfall, flood and soil erosion in many provinces where their forests are being affected particularly in Palawan, Cagayan, Isabela, Agusan, Surigao, Compostela, Lanao del Sur, Aurora, Quezon, Albay, Leyte and Samar, among others.


Industrial tree plantation should be re-assessed to find out whether the reforestation by planting denuded forest to gmelina trees is still within the bounds and limits of the said program. This should be allowed to sustain the woods supply for domestic and industrial needs.


“The forest created by God should be protected, the trees planted by man can be harvested," Zubiri furthered, adding that they are conducting hearings on the Sustainable Forest Ecosystem Management bills filed by Senators Pia Cayetano, Legarda, Lapid, Estrada, Villar and Trillanes.


They also prioritized hearings on the National Land Use Policy bills filed by Senators Loren Legarda, Cayetano, Honasan, Estrada and Trillanes. Bills on natural parks and protected areas are also being heard and ocular inspections are being lined up for Camotes Island in Cebu, Northern Negros forest reserve, Pasonanca watershed in Zamboanga and Subic-Bataan natural park and watershed in Western Luzon.


He added that the bills on Greening as well as those on mangroves filed by Senator Legarda that are very important for developing sustainable communities will be taken up.


EO 23 also banned the issuance and renewal of logging permits and agreements in all natural and residual forests. The DENR is tasked to review and evaluate all existing Integrated Forest Management Agreements (IFMAs), Socialized Integrated Forest Management Agreements (SIFMAs), Community-Based Forest Management Agreements (CBFMAs) and other forestry agreements/contracts and cancel agreements/contracts which are detrimental to forests.


Within one month, sawmills, veneer plants and other wood processing plants should prove that they have been using wood from sustainable sources of legally cut logs for a period of at least five years, or, face closure."

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