Press Release
January 18, 2011

Legarda calls for Mandatory Urban and Countryside Greening To Offset Adverse Effects of Natural Hazards

As various parts of the nation continue to experience flooding and landslides due to heavy and incessant rains, Senator Loren Legarda today reiterated her call for urban and countryside greening as a way to ward off the adverse effects of natural hazards.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, filed Senate Bill 2630 to mandate tree planting and adoption of forest sanctuaries in all barangays, municipalities, cities and provinces, particularly in all public parks and public school grounds in urban and rural areas.

"The vital role of trees--in the midst of recurring landslides, loss of soil cover, water deficiency in watershed areas, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity and essential ecosystems as well as global warming, among others--is still not given the attention, much less the protection it rightly deserves from the government," she said.

The Senator said that data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Forest Management Bureau (DENR-FMB) and the National Mapping and Resources Information Authority (NAMRIA) showed that of the country's total land area of about 30 million hectares, our forest cover is only 7.2 million hectares. The ideal should be at least 12 million hectares or 48% of the total land area.

Furthermore, annual forest losses reached 157,000 hectares or 2.1% reduction between 2000 and 2005, making the Philippines one of the top ten deforested countries in the world.

Under the proposed legislation, public elementary schools and secondary schools are mandated to build, adopt, develop and maintain forest parks and sanctuaries. It also encourages active participation in tree-planting activities in the community, especially among students, youth and other civic action groups, and the academe.

"This measure seeks to empower the youth, as effective catalysts for change as well as the academe, as the best medium to disseminate information, as they adopt or create forest sanctuaries or gardens. With more than twelve million students in the public school sector planting trees the whole year round, the country's forests can surely be revived in the shortest possible time," Legarda stressed.

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