THE anti-illegal logging taskforce of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was re-launched on Saturday, January 30, to further strengthen the forest protection capability and boost the anti-illegal logging campaign of the government.
The launching was held at the more than 2,000-hectare Biak na Bato National Park in Dona Remedios Trinidad town in Bulacan.
Undersecretary for Special Concerns of the DENR Edilberto Leonardo, who spearheaded the event, said the goal of further strengthening the anti-illegal logging campaign is to prevent the actual cutting of trees in the forests and not just apprehend illegal loggers and forest products.
"Our trees are important. It provides numerous benefits to human and biodiversity. It acts as natural barriers against disaster and calamities including strong typhoons," he said.
He said the new approach to forest protection is that the police, military and foresters from the DENR will be deployed in every exit and entry of protected areas and regular patrolling will be conducted to give support in the enforcement of environmental laws.
According to Paquito Moreno Jr., executive director of DENR regional office, forest protection is one of the most challenging activities of the DENR and it takes strong collaboration and partnership with the police and military including the local government units and local communities.
"We admit that the DENR cannot win this battle alone. But with the support and cooperation of our law enforcement and civil society, we are more confident now that we can put an end to this vicious cycle of forest degradation," he said.
Moreno also reported that given the limited number of forest rangers patrolling the more than 900,000 hectares forestland of the region, they managed to reduce the illegal logging hotspots from 23 to only four at the moment and have apprehended over 218,000 board feet of illegal lumber worth P10 million last year.
The DENR-Central Luzon has also regularly manned its eight-forest product monitoring station strategically located in Bulacan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija and Aurora to check movement of forest contraband.
Moreno also expressed his appreciation to the police, military, local government units and the civil society for their all-out support in the anti-illegal logging campaign of the DENR.
Some 200 seedlings of Narra and Molave were planted also inside the Biak na Bato National Park during the event to provide additional forest cover to the protected area.
Section 3 of Executive Order 23 series of 2011 provides for the creation of anti-illegal logging task force composed of DENR as chair and the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of National Defense, Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines as members.
The task force is mandated to take the lead in the anti-illegal logging campaign and assist the DENR in the enforcement of other environmental laws.