DENR Warns Against Poaching of Endangered Agarwood Tree

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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has issued a stern warning to the public regarding the illegal poaching of the agarwood tree, also known as Lapnisan. This tree, prized for its distinct fragrance, is considered the highest-valued forest product in the world. In an effort to protect and conserve our flora and fauna, the DENR emphasizes the need to prioritize the environment and maintain a balanced ecosystem.

According to Livino Duran, the DENR Western Visayas Regional Executive Director, the agarwood tree is not only valued for its fragrance but also for its medicinal properties. The resinous wood is used as incense and is distilled to produce essential oils and perfume components. While the propagation of agarwood is allowed, it is strictly prohibited to collect seeds directly from the wild.

Duran urges individuals to obtain the necessary permits when engaging in activities related to flora and fauna. The DENR serves as a resource for clarification on environmental-related endeavors, ensuring that all stakeholders are informed and compliant with the regulations.

Recent incidents of illegal poaching have highlighted the urgency of protecting the agarwood tree. In December of last year, the DENR, through the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) Aklan, apprehended 10 individuals in possession of 1.35 kilograms of agarwood, valued at approximately P216,000. Additionally, rangers from the Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park arrested a poacher in possession of 2.630 kilograms of agarwood, estimated to be worth P1.97 million, during a wildlife monitoring patrol in the municipality of Nabas, Aklan in January of this year.

The Aquilaria malaccensis species, commonly referred to as the “Wood of the Gods,” is classified as endangered under the National List of Threatened Flora by the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau. Furthermore, seven other species of agarwood are listed as vulnerable based on DENR Administrative Order 2017-11, which outlines the Updated National List of Threatened Philippine Plants and their Categories.

It is crucial to recognize the significance of agarwood conservation in the Philippines. As a threatened plant species, the DENR emphasizes the importance of identifying the specific species involved in any violation. This identification allows for appropriate fines and penalties to be imposed, serving as a deterrent to potential poachers.

Preserving the agarwood tree is not only a matter of protecting a valuable natural resource but also of maintaining the delicate balance of our ecosystem. By actively participating in the conservation efforts of the DENR, we can contribute to the long-term sustainability of this fragrant treasure. Let us all be responsible stewards of nature, respecting and safeguarding the agarwood tree for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

Remember, the DENR is here to guide and support us in our environmental endeavors. Seek their assistance and obtain the necessary permits to ensure that our actions align with the goal of preserving our natural heritage. Together, we can make a difference and protect the agarwood tree from the threat of illegal poaching.

Source: The Manila Times

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