Press Release
December 11, 2010


Senator Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, today pressed the DENR-FMB (Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Forest Management Bureau) to come up with an accurate and real data on the state of our forest instead of using old unreliable statistics so that agencies can map out an honest-to-goodness forest management and development conservation plans and laws. Zubiri made this call following a presentation made by the Forest and Management Bureau Assistant director Neria Andin that about 7.2 million hectares of the country's 30 million hectares remain forested based on NAMRIA 2003 statistics.

"You have to tell us the accurate picture, as a biodiversity conservationist, if you give us a report taken seven years ago and present it to us without verifying it on the ground or at least updating it how can we make an effective assessment? If you tell us that you have problems in implementing the existing laws and that we are losing our forest lands then we can speed up the process and come up with appropriate laws," Zubiri stressed.

Zubiri and Senator Loren Legarda, vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, who attended the Senate hearing on Wednesday (December 8) lamented that the same data had been given to them in the 1990s and they doubted whether the forest area has remained at that level. The two senators again expressed disbelief when FMB presented a raw data taken in 2008 that there had been a significant increase in forest lands in Visayas and Mindanao regions.

"The figures are unbelievable, incredible and highly impossible. I have traveled all over the country at nakikita ko at ng mga kababayan natin na kalbo na ang ating mga kagubatan. Let's be realistic," Zubiri said.

FMB further reported that based on comparative data taken in 1988 against 2003, deforestation is up in regions 2,9,10 and 11 while regions 1,3,5,6,7,8 and 12 posted a slight increase in forest covered areas.

"We need to know our current score card in forest management, our accomplishments against our targets. And, the direction that the DENR is taking towards sustainable forest ecosystem management. I am in favor of passing a sustainable forest management act but it has to have teeth, we have to protect our remaining forests," he added.

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