Solon seeks delineation of forest land limits

MANILA-- A lawmaker at the House of Representatives has proposed a measure which seeks the demarcation and delineation of forest lands for the conservation, protection, and development of forest resources in the country.

1-ANG EDUKASYON Partylist Rep. Salvador Belaro, Jr. said Congress has long been tasked by the 1987 Constitution to determine by law the specific limits of forest lands and national parks, marking clearly their boundaries on the ground.

"Thirty years have passed since the Constitution was ratified. The demarcation and delineation of forest lands is most certainly long overdue. Congress must fulfill this specific mandate now to arrest any further deterioration of our country's forest cover," Belaro said.

Belaro has filed House Bill 5945, or the "Forest Lands Limits Act of 2017". He noted that the delineation of forest lands is among the legislative priorities identified in the Philippine Development Plan for 2017 to 2022.

The bill seeks the creation of a National Review and Evaluation Committee which will process, evaluate and approve all completed assessment and delineation reports.

The said committee shall be headed by the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as Chairperson, while the Secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) shall serve as the Vice-Chairperson.

Other members of the committee shall include the secretaries of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Agriculture (DA), and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and chairpersons of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

Under the bill, previously established Land Classification survey lines per province with their respective technical descriptions and maps shall be the basic data and information that will be used as reference material in undertaking the validation, assessment and delineation process.

All completed assessment and delineation reports for a given province shall be endorsed to the National Review and Evaluation Committee.

The same process shall be followed for other provinces with ongoing assessments and delineation activities until such time that all the boundaries of forest lands of the whole country shall have been delimited.

The assessment and delineation reports approved by the committee shall be adopted as the final boundaries of the forest lands covered by the said report.

"The demarcation and delineation of forest lands will be tedious, time-consuming work, but it must be done to conserve, protect and develop the forest resources of the country in order to attain ecological balance, preserve valuable ecosystems, prevent environmental degradation and promote sustainable development for the present and future generations," Belaro said.

Source: Philippine News Agency