Forest conservation efforts have been primarily led by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The first law to fully flesh out the DENR’s main conservation strategy, designating forests as protected areas, was initially passed in 1992 as the NIPAS Law. Prior to this, the DENR issued a series of administrative orders that set quotas for forests to be used for commercial purposes and protected the habitats of endangered and vulnerable plant and animal species.
The NIPAS Law was since expanded in 2018 to become the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area Systems (ENIPAS) Act, which still serves as the primary strategy employed by the government to protect forests. Protected areas are meant to be preserved in their natural state, as samples of each representative ecosystem and habitat in the country. Protected areas may fall under – among others – natural parks, protected landscapes and seascapes, game refuge and bird sanctuaries, and of course, watershed forest reserves.
Some of the watershed forest reserves classified as protected areas include the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City, the Batanes Protected Landscape and Seascape, Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park in Isabela, Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape in Palawan, and Mt. Kitanglad Natural Park in Bukidnon.
That said, forests wouldn’t be forests without trees. With all the trees that have already been cut down, conservation and protection efforts need to regrow these trees and make sure they are stronger than ever. This is the main goal of tree growing programs. Specifically, the best kind of trees to focus on growing are Native Species. These are trees that are naturally occurring in the region, and thus do not cause any disruption to the ecosystem when planted. In the Philippines, native trees are commonly planted alongside some exotic fruit trees in reforestation programs to support the livelihoods of local communities.