A new book jointly launched by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) seeks to mobilize more grassroots action on forest and biodiversity conservation nationwide.

Launched in Quezon City, the book “In the Heart of the Forest” aims to promote such action by showcasing real-life stories of people working at the grassroots level, with assistance from the government.

Among conservation champions featured in the book are former rebel Mansueto Puerpas, who is helping monitor the forests of Negros Oriental, and Marisa Naputo, who lost her husband and two daughters when Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck Samar Island but is already helping educate communities about the importance of forest conservation.

“I support and encourage all of you to share our beautiful stories to others. Let’s work hard to tell and spread narratives of commitment and service to the environment for our children and future generations of Filipinos,” DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said in a message read by DENR Undersecretary Rod Garcia at the book launch.

“I support and encourage all of you to share our beautiful stories to others.”

Cimatu thanked the USAID for partnering with DENR on B+WISER, which sought to boost forest and biodiversity conservation in the country.

“Let’s work hard to tell and spread narratives of commitment and service to the environment for our children and future generations of Filipinos.”

“We preserve our memories of success through the launch of ‘In the Heart of the Forest,’ a beautiful book that collects photos of Philippine forests and people dependent on them,” the environment chief said.

USAID Philippines Environment Office Chief John Edgar praised the people featured in the book for their dedication to and resilience in saving Philippine forests and biodiversity.

“Their stories are all inspiring and collectively demonstrate the strength of Filipinos,” Edgar said at the event.

DENR and USAID came up with B+WISER, as data showed that during the 20th century, the Philippines lost nearly 75 percent of its natural forests to illegal logging and other causes.

“The B+WISER program started six years ago amidst need to address deforestation and biodiversity decline in the country,” DENR’s Forest Management Bureau (FMB) Director Nonito Tamayo said.

He added the DENR, the local governments concerned, the private sector, and upland communities have received local capacity-building through science-based strategies, so these can conserve biodiversity in forest areas, protect remaining natural forests, and reduce disaster risk.

FMB noted B+WISER has helped improve management for 6.3 million hectares or over 90 percent of forest areas nationwide, as well as livelihood for more than 29,000 people in communities that depend on natural resources.

“Indeed, the book ‘In the Heart of the Forest’ acknowledges milestones of the program, but it also aims to inspire more Filipinos to engage in forest protection and biodiversity conservation through its beautiful pictures and captions,” Tamayo said.

Aside from launching the book, the DENR and the USAID further celebrated their partnership by planting two seedlings of the native “kamagong” tree species.

Garcia, Edgar, and Tamayo planted the seedlings at the DENR’s Heroes Park in Quezon City after the book launch.

The planting symbolized solidarity of the two agencies in protecting forests and biodiversity nationwide, Tamayo said.

 

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