Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said the Aquino administration has put in place adequate, long-term measures to counter the effects of climate change, which benefits can come well beyond 2016.

“We have very focused anti-climate change programs being implemented by the government such as the nationwide geohazard mapping and the massive restoration of watersheds that serve as the country’s natural defense against environmental impacts caused by climate change,” Paje said.

He said that geohazard maps, which indicate areas susceptible to landslide and floods, could spare the government further losses and expensive rehabilitation works that may be brought about by natural disasters and poor geologic planning.

“One of the biggest costs the government faces right now is rehabilitation. Why are we doing rehab? Because we have damaged facilities,” Paje pointed out.

“But if we have good plans, we need not invest in areas which will be affected by landslide. Remember Guinsaugon? Had we have a good plan at the time, we would have not built school in the area, which will be covered by landslide and cause 300 casualties,” he added.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through its Mines and Geosciences Bureau, is close to completing more detailed geohazard maps at a scale of 1:10,000, replacing the previous maps with 1:50,000 scale.

Paje said the government is also enhancing climate change resilience in watershed areas all over the country.

“Basically, this is part of a bigger program of restoring the integrity of our natural ecosystem because watershed is our Number One natural defense from the onslaught of climate change,” Paje said.

He added: “We really have to restore it because we have to improve what we call the natural water-holding capacity and we also have to fortify our natural defenses.”

Paje said restoring the country’s natural defense involves two-pronged approach: protection of the remaining forests and rehabilitation of damaged areas.

“We are doing it two ways. One is we have to rehabilitate the damaged areas. We have more than eight million hectares of open denuded and degraded forests. And, we are also implementing a total log ban in the natural forests to protect the remaining,” he said.(DENR Public Affairs Office)