Wednesday, January 19, 2011

P-Noy’s nationwide log ban finds ally in Greenpeace

PRESIDENT Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III found a strong ally in environmental groups for his initiative to introduce a nationwide log ban, saying the move will boost effort to protect the forest and arrest the degradation of the environment.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Philippines country representative Mark Dia called on Mr. Aquino to be resolute and demonstrate that the executive order to implement such a ban “ensures a tangible improvement in forest governance and law enforcement.”

The group has been calling for an increased budget for the environment and natural-resources sector and is pushing for integration of climate-change mitigation and adaptation measures in the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) of the Aquino administration.

“Together with the logging ban, it is important that the executive order also considers a participatory land-use planning process based on the needs and rights of forest-dependent communities with a view to protecting the climate and biodiversity,” he said in press statement.

According to Dia, for the ban to be effective, investment in alternatives to logging that will support local development and sustainable forest use for the benefit of local communities is critical.  This can be achieved by establishing and ensuring the participatory management of protected forest areas, he added.

Forest destruction contributes one-fifth of the total global emissions—more than the emissions from cars, planes and trains around the world combined. 

Last year Greenpeace and other member-organizations of the EcoWaste Coalition held a survey—the Green Electoral Initiative (GEI)—among presidential aspirants regarding their intentions for the environment. 

Mr. Aquino had promised very concrete steps to stop illegal logging and curb the corruption that allowed loggers to circumvent environmental-protection laws.  

Mr. Aquino had indicated that his administration would “engage the police and military authorities, local communities and local government agencies in a sustained, vigorous campaign to seize illegally cut logs and prevent further clearing of primary forests.”

Deputy Presidential Spokesman Abigail Valte had announced last weekend that the President is considering the possibility of an executive order for a total log ban nationwide. 

The announcement was made following recent devastation brought about by heavy rains in a number of vulnerable areas in the country that suffered landslides and other debilitating effects from extreme weather events, soil erosion and other impacts of environmental degradation.

According to the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change, droughts and typhoons will intensify, putting the most vulnerable and least- prepared countries at greater risk to impacts of climate change.  The Philippines has been ranked as seventh on a list of 10 countries most vulnerable to extreme weather events.       

Dia said Mr. Aquino made the commitment in the GEI survey that, for his first 100 days in office, he would push “to enact a law, as mandated by the Constitution, to delineate, once and for all, forest lines in the country, as a clear basis for crafting a comprehensive national land-use policy, as well as for the definition of watersheds and fragile ecosystems.” 

“We should all hold the President to these promises he made because it will affect all of us, rich or poor.  We are already feeling the effects of climate change in our daily lives.  Both the science and people’s experiences on the ground are overtaking earlier predictions made regarding the impacts of climate change.  But the solutions are already before us. 

“The only thing needed is political will and cooperation among people, government and industry.  The survival of humanity should take precedence over profit, power or greed.  But steadfast leadership and cooperation will surely get us there,” Dia said.

In an interview with the BusinessMirror, La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) environment campaigner Jonathan Ronquillo said: “It is about time that government considers implementing a log ban.  Issuing an executive order to that effect shows how serious is this administration in mitigating the effects of climate change.”

More important, however, Ronquillo stressed the need for Mr. Aquino to give premium to the environment and climate change, by making the annual national budget of the government more “climate change-sensitive” and by “greening” the 2011-16 MTPDP. 


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