Forest officers in CL enhance skill on biodiversity protection


AT LEAST 200 forest officers from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here recently undergone skills enhancement training on forest protection through the application of LAWIN forest and biodiversity protection system in a bid to enhance the protection and conservation of more than 900,000 hectares forestlands in the region.

According to Francisco Milla, Jr., Regional Director of DENR in Central Luzon, LAWIN or Landscape and Wildlife Indicators System is coined after the Philippine hawk eagle, which combines science-based planning, user friendly technology, and indigenous knowledge to protect forests and biodiversity. Just like the eagle, LAWIN keeps watch over forest ecosystems and helps communities and government focus conservation efforts where they are needed most.

“This technology will allow us to effectively monitor the actual situation on the ground and facilitate timely response to any threats observed by patrollers in our forest ecosystems and wildlife species like forest fire, timber poaching, landslide and charcoal-making”, he explained.

He said the system uses a mobile application called CyberTracker, which enables patrollers to monitor and collect data about forest and biodiversity conditions, including threats and geo-referenced observations by taking photos and videos.

LAWIN system also uses spatial monitoring and reporting tool for analysis of data, mapping and generation of reports, which provide decision makers with a basis for identifying and implementing adequate responses for addressing threats, including identification of conservation areas.

Joselin Marcus Fragada, Senior Undersecretary for Field Operations said that this technology will provide correct data on forest and biodiversity conditions in the country and will hasten the skills of DENR’s forest protection officers to effectively protect the fragile biodiversity in Central Luzon.

He also advised the participants to take pride in what they do and to do their job properly.

Included in the training was the provincial and community environment and natural resources officers (PENRO and CENRO), forest rangers, forest technicians, protected area superintendents, biologists and environmental management specialists, said Arthur Salazar, deputy director for Technical Services.

He said the participants are expected to gain skills in planning and designing conservation areas, recording and processing of data on forest conditions, wildlife and threats, identifying indicator species and a better understanding of forestry and environmental law enforcement.

DENR’s Forest Management Bureau (FMB) led the training with the support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) Program.

Statistics show that the world has 1.6 billion people and 20% of it (or 320 million) rely on forests for their livelihood while 80% of all terrestrial animal and plant species live in the forest.

Records also show that 70% of the Philippines’ natural forest has been lost during the last century, while 46% of species found in the Philippines exist in no other country and 15% are threatened.

In Central Luzon, forest cover is placed at 589,489 hectares or 62% of the total forest lands. It has also 33 protected areas covering 330,710 hectares.