Provincial Environmental Protection and Management
The province of Zamboanga del Norte, once known for its virgin forests and lush green mountains, has been the victim of rampant logging (both legal and illegal) and extensive "kaingin" which caused the dwindling of the forest cover in the past years. Patches of bald areas in the mountains are mute testimonies to the ravages of destructive logging and farming practices.
Guided by Section 17 of the Local Government Code of 1991, the provincial government established the Provincial Environmental and Natural Resource Council (PENRC) in October 1992 and launched the Provincial Environmental and Natural Resource Program to protect and preserve its remaining forests and resources. The PENRC, the management arm of the environmental program composed of representatives from national government agencies (NGAs), local government units (LGUs), non-government organizations (NGOs) and civic groups, is a distinct delivery mechanism with two layers: (I) a policy-making body composed of multi-sectoral representatives from government, non-government, civic, and church groups in the province; and (2) a secretariat which serves as the implementing arm of PENRC.
The program undertakes four activities: (I) patrolling/monitoring in forests and mining areas to check the presence of illegal logging; (2) apprehensions/confiscations of illegal lumber/nitches and other forest products; (3) surveillance and monitoring of transport of forest products in 8 strategic locations in the province and (4) education and information drive using a tri-media approach in the different municipalities and barangays to educate the people on the importance of preserving and protecting the environment.
In 17 months, the program has considerably stopped illegal logging. Although there are still some illegal logging activities, these are only vestiges of what was once a very intensive and extensive environmental epidemic. The "kaingin system," on the other hand, was totally eradicated in the upland areas of the province.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 1994 Galing Pook Awards.