DENR Secretary lays down future plans

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The Department of Natural Resources (DENR) plays an important role in regulating the country’s natural resources, which includes agroforestry.

DENR Secretary Maria Antonia “Toni” Yulo Loyzaga outlines the department’s thrust:

(Mike/ Pexels)

Ethical stewardship. The Department will be using a multi-stakeholder consultative process that involves government and private sectors, as well as “the CSO (civil society organizations) community, academe, and the different practitioners in the different fields that are part of the mandate of the DENR.”

“Why that’s important is we have to recognize that the mandate of the DENR is what we call trans-disciplinary,” Yulo Loyzaga said. “We need to involve the different stakeholders and the different stakeholders and the different type of expertise.” 

The Department is currently making a list of folks to include in their Expert Advisory Council. “These are going to be experts on science, in policy, and in practice,” Yulo Loyzaga explained.

Empower partners. “What we’d like to do, because of the science that we’d like to bring forward, is to develop a new type of agency so that our partners can actually take directions on their own that will lead to the same outcome,” Yulo Loyzaga said. “So certain unity of purpose is necessary for us to actually achieve the goals in terms of enhancing, protecting, and restoring our environment for national development.” 

Engage expertise. The Department is currently taking stock of its resources and how they can be better deployed to serve stakeholders. They’re also consulting with global experts on streamlining processes. 

“I’d like to say our overarching goal here at the Department is to use the phrase ‘measure what we treasure,’ and by doing that, we feel we will be able to contribute concretely to the Philippine development plan moving forward. How we will measure is the following,” Yulo Loyzaga said.

Utilizing space-based resources. One of the DENR’s first projects is the establishment of a National Natural Resource Geospatial Database. “This will serve as the baseline for all of our natural resource inventory in the country,” the Secretary said. “Really looking at the use of satellite imagery and other types of… systems in order for us to understand what has happened to our country physically in the last half-decade or so.”

Align with global goals. “…We would like to ensure that we are in alignment with global events and global commitments that our country has entered into,” Yulo Loyzaga said.

This includes the climate change negotiations, biodiversity conservation, and disaster reduction. “…The DENR has headed the delegation to the Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. We have now been asked by [the] United Nations to actually host this conference here in 2024,” she added.

The Secretary’s background in climate change and disaster risk management, among other science-based civic organizations, gives her a unique perspective on how to move the DENR forward. 

“I’m coming from a different community and so I needed to understand what really the department is doing, and so with the help of our undersecretaries and staff and team at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, I think we have a fairly good grasp to start our process moving forward,” she said.

The DENR is also working with other departments to boost the country’s agroforestry industry.

“As you know, this work doesn’t just entail the DENR. It actually also needs to be part of the DA’s (Department of Agriculture)  work, and there’s also a component that actually involves the NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples), it actually involves also DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform) as well, and so in terms of the programming for agroforestry, we realize that there is in fact a need for some communities to generate that income, and therefore combining fast growing and the more slow growing species will actually be the strategy in terms of trying to provide for whatever the livelihood needs are for our communities,” Yulo Loyzaga said.

“We have not had the opportunity to sit down with the DA on this. However, this has been part… of the work of the DENR in previous administrations where they have allowed actually some fast growing species and fast growing crops, for example, like cacao, to actually be intercropped with the forest area.” 

This piece was first published in the Opinion page of

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Yvette Tan
Yvette Tan is Agriculture magazine's managing editor’s web editor. She is an award-winning writer who likes to eat, travel, and listen to stories about the strange and supernatural. She is dedicated to encouraging people to push for sustainable food sources and is an advocate of food security, food sovereignty, and the preservation of community foodways.

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