Thursday, February 3, 2011

Aquino orders moratorium on logging

President Benigno Aquino III has signed an executive order imposing a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of trees in the country, weeks after heavy rains caused landslides and flash floods in Eastern Visayas, Southern Luzon and parts of Mindanao.

Through Executive Order No. 23, the President prohibited the Department of Environment and Natural Resources from issuing and renewing logging agreements and tree cutting permits involving natural and residual forests.

He also ordered the DENR to review all existing agreements and immediately cancel those whose signatories have violated forestry laws; and to close and disallow sawmills and other wood processing plants that are unable to present proof of sustainable sources of legally cut logs for a period of at least five years.

Aquino also mandated a National Greening Program for tree-planting activities and the creation of a task force that would oversee the implementation of the moratorium.

Exempted from the prohibition on the issuance of tree cutting permits are those for the clearing of road right of way by the Department of Public Works and Highways, the site clearing for tree plantations, silvicultrual treatment and other similar activities, “provided that all logs derived from the said cutting permits shall be turned over to the DENR for proper disposal.”

The EO also said that tree cutting associated with cultural practices pursuant to the Indigenous People’s Right Act may be allowed “only subject to strict compliance with existing guidelines of the DENR.”

“(It) is the obligation of the State to protect the remaining forest cover areas of the country not only to prevent flash floods and hazardous flooding but also to preserve biodiversity… and allow natural regeneration of residual forests and development of plantation forests,” the President said in his EO.

“(It) is imperative to arrest the degradation, pollution and contamination of the river and water systems,” he added.


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