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PIA Press Release

DENR-7: Cebu has barely 1% natural forest cover

Cebu City (7 September) -- Cebu's rapid population growth, increasing demand for fuel and sprouting of upland development are the major causes that attributed to the dwindling forest cover in the province.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-7) Chief of the Coastal and Marine Management Division Edmondo Aregadas in a special Kapihan sa PIA this morning at Club Ultima on "Save the Environment -- Plant More Trees!" bared Cebu's total land area has barely one percent of natural forest cover.

Aregadas said the provinces of Bohol and Oriental Negros have about three percent remaining natural forest cover while Siquijor has lesser natural forest cover than Cebu.

The Philippines on the other hand, has scarcely 20 percent of natural forest cover while the ballooning population growth puts rising pressure on the country's natural resources and the environment.

An area that has about 20 to 30 percent natural forest cover is good enough for a balanced harmony among the environment, population and development, according to Aregadas.

With Cebu's diminishing forest cover, Aregadas called on Cebuanos to help address the alarming deforestation problem by simply planting trees in their backyard. The DENR-7 is still doing some more reforestation activities but its meager funds has put on limitations to its efforts as Aregadas said their office is very appreciative of environmental groups that undertake reforestation or tree planting activities.

Aregadas added they are also trying to talk to upland communities to minimize the use of upland resources citing the heavy cutting of coconut trees for lumber.

The DENR-7 official lauded the Provincial Government's efforts to address the continuing degradation of the upland and coastal resources through their upland and coastal conservation management programs.

Aregadas said Gov. Gwen Garcia's upland and coastal conservation programs urged the Cebuanos to take active participation in caring for the environment. Under the upland program, the people are encouraged to plant 'nangka' and other fruit-bearing trees while the coastal program called on the coastal communities to plant more mangroves where the seeds are given for free by the Provincial Government.

Apart from addressing the deforestation problem, tree planting can also help address the more alarming global issue of climate change due to global warming, Aregadas said.

Trees sequester the harmful carbon dioxide, the main 'greenhouse gas' which is largely emitted by fuel plants that is primarily responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer resulting to global warming, this is said.

Aregadas further said trees are referred to as 'carbon sinks' for this function of carbon dioxide absorption and storage. Planting trees to bolster carbon sink helps offset the loss of native forests and fights global warming.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo meanwhile, has called on the inclusion of global warming as one of the urgent issues that must be discussed as leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Region converged in Australia this week for the annual APEC Leaders Meeting. (PIA-7) [top]

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