USAID, DENR forest protection project nears completion

MANILAA United States and Philippine government project to train Filipino eco-rangers and modernize their equipment for enhanced forest protection and biodiversity conservation is set to conclude in December.

The Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System (Lawin) was implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in six initial areas in 2016.

The agency, however, officially adopted the system as a national strategy for forest and biodiversity protection this month.

"The program will be completed but like any foreign-assisted projects, it does not end there because it is mainstreamed into DENR programs. It will be continued and in fact it has been adopted by the agency," DENR Assistant Secretary Corazon Davis told reporters on Thursday.

Before the Lawin system, Davis said eco-rangers had to use traditional pen and paper to track movements and illegal activities in a forest area, increasing gap in records. In September, at least 3,000 forest patrollers were able to finish their training.

"Because of this technology, we are able to track that they indeed conducted patrols and, secondly, document all threats to biodiversity."

For the 2019 General Appropriations Act, Davis said around PHP800 million for forest protection were allocated, with the adopted Lawin system included.

Lawin is a project under a multi-year initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) called Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) program.

Lawin is the first USAID-initiated project to have been owned and implemented on a national scale by the government before its mother program ended.

At the B+WISER's closing ceremony, US Ambassador Sung Kim lauded the Philippines for the milestones it achieved through the program, including the successful implementation of Lawin and its improved management of over 90 percent of forests in the country.

According to Kim, the Philippines' reforestation and forest conservation efforts have also helped reduce 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of removing more than 2 million cars off the streets. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency