In observance of the International Day of Forests on March 21, Senator Loren Legarda said authorities and learning institutions must educate more on the ecological, economic, social, and health benefits of forests and their vital roles in reducing poverty, protecting biodiversity, ensuring food security, and promoting sustainable development.
Legarda said the annual event, with the theme “Forestry and Education” for this year, aims to raise awareness at all levels in strengthening the sustainable management, conservation, and sustainable development of all types of forests and trees outside forests for the benefit of current and future generations.
“It is unfortunate that we do not exert the same amount of effort to protect our forests than we do in gathering resources from them. This needs to change. We need to ensure that Filipinos, especially our children, are fully aware and can fully understand the benefits and resources we receive and rely from our forests,” Legarda said.
“It is unfortunate that we do not exert the same amount of effort to protect our forests than we do in gathering resources from them.”
The senator mentioned that forests cover one-third of the planet’s land mass, of which 1.6 billion people, including more than 2,000 Indigenous cultures, depend on forests for their livelihoods, medicines, fuel, food, and shelter. She added that forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80 percent of the terrestrial species of animals, plants, and insects.
“Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80 percent of the terrestrial species of animals, plants, and insects.”
Legarda also noted that the Philippines is one of the few mega-diverse countries in the world, but is also considered a biodiversity hotspot due to an alarming rate of destruction brought about by overexploitation, deforestation, land degradation, pollution, and climate change.
According to Legarda, the country already has the laws to protect forests and environment, but would require greater action from authorities, as well as the public, to implement these policies.
“This celebration of International Day of Forests is a reminder for all our authorities to carry out our landmark laws that protect our forests and our environment and to lead efforts in conveying the crucial role they play in our lives and towards a sustainable Philippines,” Legarda said.