THE coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has led to the growth of plant lovers, colloquially called “plantitos” or “plantitas.” With people working or studying from home, some have found a new hobby by attending to their garden or rearing plants. Others have also made a business out of it.
However, this growth of plant lovers, which may sound good, also has its flipside. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and environmental groups and advocates have recently raised alarm on plant poaching.
"Pero karon man gud nauso ang collection of plants (nga) minsan kay ginakuha na gyud sya sa kalasangan, mao gusto namo ipa-remind sa mga tao na naa puy other plant species na bawal kuhaon or bawal kolektahon (But because plant collection has become the trend nowadays that sometimes people take plants directly from the forest, what we aim now is to remind the public that there are plant species that should not be taken or collected (from its natural habitat))," Jayvee Jude Agas, DENR-Davao Regional Public Affairs Office chief, said.
According to DENR’s Deparment Order (DO) 2017-11, there are a total of 984 threatened Philippine plant species in the country.
DENR-Soccsksargen recently posted an infographic of commonly poached threatened plants that are protected and regulated under Republic Act (RA) 9174 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. These are dendrobium, phalaenopsis, lady slipper, waling-waling, hoya, maidenhari, staghorn, pakpak-lawin, ant fern, pugad-lawin, molave (bonsai), begonia, alocacia, wild ginger, medinilla, tree fern and cyad.
DENR warns that those who violate the law could face fines ranging between P20,000 to as much as P1 million, depending on whether the plant is listed as critical, endangered, vulnerable or threatened. Violators could also face imprisonment of up to 12 years.
As plant lovers, it is also our responsibility to care for the plants that are growing in their natural habitat. Therefore, it is not right for some to just “poach” beautiful plant species growing at the forests or small green patches.
For those purchasing plants, it is good that you also do your background check on where or how the seller got their plants. It is also good to look up the kind of plant you will be getting. It may look nice at home but the plant may be among the 984 Philippine plant species protected under the law. If we patronize threatened plants being sold to us, more will be tempted to go into the forests and take it out of its natural habitat.
Gardening and nurturing plants is a good hobby. It has its benefits and raises the importance of plants in our environment. However, we also have the responsibility to allow certain plants to propagate where they are. We also have the responsibility to prevent it from being taken out of its natural habitat.