Environmental activists urge candidates: Curb climate change by protecting Philippines forests

Apr. 18, 2007

26 Matulungin St. Central District, Quezon City , Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756; E-mail: kalikasan.pne@gmail.com

April 18, 2007

Environmental activists urge leading candidates: Curb climate change by protecting Philippine forests

National and district-level candidates and partylists in the 2007 elections should lay the foundation for managing extreme weather conditions expected to result from climate change by immediately supporting an urgent moratorium on commercial logging operations rampant in the Philippines, Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) said today.

“There are many significant ways to contribute to the international campaign against global warming, and instituting an urgent commercial logging moratorium in the Philippines is one of them,” Kalikasan PNE National Coordinator Clemente Bautista, Jr. said.

“Forests, next to oceans, act as a carbon sink. They help generate a liveable air environment by absorbing carbon dioxide emissions, pollutive chemicals in the atmosphere and particulates and release oxygen back into the atmosphere. Forests play a significant role in moderating the movement of greenhouse gases (GHGs) between land and the atmosphere. By supporting policies that protect, preserve, and increase the Philippine’s forest cover, we will be able to partially but significantly mitigate the threats posed by climate change and extreme weather occurrences in this part of the region,” Bautista explained.

“Saving the Philippine forests from wanton plunder is not just an issue of climate change,” Bautista clarified, “The Philippines has an ecosystem that is archipelagic, generally mountainous and sloping, so we really should maintain an ideal forest cover of around 54% of the total land area or more to help prevent occurrences of flash floods, exacerbated landslides, and biodiversity loss,” he said.

“However, this isn’t what’s happening in the country. According to the last credible inventory of the Forest Management Bureau in 2002, forest cover has dipped to only 16% of the Philippine’s land area. 124 out of 154 watershed areas designated by the DENR are already in critical state. Yet the Arroyo administration continues to promote the wanton extraction of our fast disappearing forest reserves: it has one by one lifted log bans and farmed out commercial logging permits in the form of Timber Licensing Agreements (TLAs) and 23 Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) permits from January 2001 to 2004. IFMAs allow their holders, including private industrial tree plantations, the right to timber and all other forest products in their territories,” Bautista explained.

“Electoral candidates should stand against this issue with grave implications on the people and look for ways to reform the Arroyo administration’s existing environmental policies. They should stand in favor of commercial log ban and substantial moratoriums on logging until sufficient rainforest cover for the country has been achieved. Logically, they should also support a moratorium on timber exports and encourage log production for domestic use alone. They should also work to immediately cancel all commercial logging permits, rehabilitate and protect watershed areas, and promote community-managed forestry and the use of indigenous tree species in reforestation,” Bautista said.

“As Earth Day 2007 nears, there is an urgent need to increase awareness and support of environmental issues among candidates. As of now, party lists which have supported this call from environmental activists include Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, and Kabataan partylists. Among the Senatoriables, we hope for the continued support of people like Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Francis Escudero, Pia Cayetano, and Sonio Roco for such policies,” Bautista said.

Reference: Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan PNE National Coordinator 0922-844-9787.

national coordinator
Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy, Central, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
Email: kalikasan.pne@gmail.com

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