DENR pressed to develop a marine conservation program ASAP

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The Senate climate change committee has pressed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to develop a major marine conservation program, particularly on coral restoration since only five percent of corals in the country are still in ideal condition.

Sen. Loren Legarda, committee chairman, said the program, like the DENR’s successful National Greening Program (NGP), should be launched as soon as possible since coral reefs are the food basket fish.

Under the DENR’s NGP, it would take about 20 years to reforest 7.2 million hectares of denuded forests, according to DENR Secretary Ramon Paje.

Without the NGP, Paje said DENR would take 230 years to reforest the 7.2 -million denuded forests. This means the DENR would only be able to reforest an average of 30,000 hectares a year.

The Philippine land area is 30 million hectares of which 7.6 million hectares are considered forest lands and the remaining 7.2million hectares are considered “denuded, degraded and open areas.’’

The country has 240 million hectares of marine land based on the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

These were stressed by Paje when he appeared before a Senate finance sub-committee chaired by Legarda to defend his department’s proposed 2016 budget of R22.9 billion.

SAVE MARINE RESOURCES, TOO

“I have always espoused for the protection of our forests. But in terms of ecosystems, it looks like we do not give as much attention and resources to our marine ecosystem our corals, sea grass beds, tidal flats,” said Legarda as she noted that only five percent of our corals are in good condition.

The country’s land area is only 30 million hectares. Ideally, coral reefs in the 60 million hectares of marine area around the country, the area which is considered possible for fishing including sea grass beds, tidal flats, should be in excellent condition, she added.

Paje explained that since coral reefs are the food basket for the fish, the destruction of coral reefs would mean less fish population, which would translate to lower fish catch and lower protein for the people.

by Mario Casayuran
Published, September 19, 2015

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