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Deforestation, biodiversity loss top list of major woes

Massive deforestation and the need to rehabilitate the country’s degraded forests in the face of climate change tops the list of many environmental challenges faced by the Aquino administration.

Philippine forest cover has plunged to as low as 6.6 percent and the country’s deforestation rate is now the highest in East Asia and Southeast Asia at 1.4 percent annually according to Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the environmental group Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment.

The group held a forum on the 2012 state of the Philippine environment dubbed “GREENeration” last week, wherein environmental advocates listed down the most pressing challenges faced by the government.

Bautista said the devastating flash floods in Northern Mindanao were caused by unnatural rainfall and the encroachment of agro-industrial plantations into its watershed forests.

The Aquino administration, through the convergence initiative of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform, is implementing the National Greening Program that aims to plant 1.5 billion of trees in 1.5 million hectares of open and denuded forests nationwide by 2016.