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THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it has surpassed its 2019 targets for biodiversity preservation.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) exceeded its targets for cave assessment and the issuance of wildlife permits as early as October.

“This is palpable evidence that the DENR is not only focused on the rehabilitation of Manila Bay and Boracay, but also in the conservation of the country’s flora and fauna,” he said in a statement.

The DENR noted that the BMB assessed 52 caves, compared to its annual target of 38. It has also issued 7,926 various permits for handling, collecting, exporting and farming wildlife, against the target of 4,026.

The bureau’s Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife (Task Force POGI) also confiscated 72 animals and 15.6 kilograms of agarwood. This task force includes personnel from the BMB, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

It also maintained 42 wildlife rescue centers, 89% more than the target, and 384 ecotourism facilities, 98% more than the target, across the country.

Republic Act No. 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Preservation Act, charges the department with conserving and protecting “the country’s wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainability,” as well as to promote ecological balance and improve biological diversity, and to regulate the collection and trade of wildlife. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang