Press Release
March 21, 2021

Sen. Villar joins International Day of Forests, pushes for forests protection

SAYING that forest trees serve as natural protection to the adverse impacts of natural disasters, such as heavy rainfalls during typhoons and extreme flooding, Sen. Cynthia Villar underscored the need to stop deforestation.

In joining the celebration of the International Day of Forests on March 21, Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, renewed her call to keep our forests healthy and protected.

"Abundant forest trees could help forest soil absorb and retain rainwater, thereby naturally regulating the release of rainwater from hills and mountains," said Villar.

She noted that deforestation caused by illegal logging, quarrying, unregulated mining, and slash-and-burn agriculture, among others, "continues to threaten the forest cover of the country."

"This resulted to a reduced protection from the effects of natural disasters," pointed out Villar, a known environmentalist.

She mentioned for instance the deforestation of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, which was supposed to protect Luzon from oncoming typhoons.

"The muddy quality of the water that flooded Cagayan and Marikina alike is an indication that the surrounding forests and watersheds are already so denuded such that they do not anymore retain soil water and prevent erosion," Villar said.

She also cited the statement of the United Nations that over 800 million people live in tropical forests and woodlands in developing countries.

Indigenous and local communities, who are also considered as "historic custodians of the planet's most important reservoirs of biodiversity", rely on them for their essential needs from food and shelter to medicines, among others.

Because of this, she said the destruction of those habitats translate to loss of livelihood and economic opportunities for people.

In November last year, the senator filed Senate Resolution 581, seeking a legislative inquiry on the state of the country's forests, watersheds, and rivers following the severe and widespread flooding in Luzon due to the recent onslaught of typhoons.

According to the senator, the denuded forests and the reported heavy siltation on rivers and tributaries have "largely contributed to the immense flooding" in the region, specifically after Typhoon "Ulysses."

In her proposed measure, Villar noted several statutes mandating the protection of the country's forests, watersheds and river systems and the preservation of biodiversity to prevent environment-related risks.

The International Day of Forests was established on the 21st day of March, by resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on November 28, 2012.

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