The Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB), Forest Foundation Philippines, Philippine Association of Landscape Architects (PALA), and Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) signed an agreement to implement a forest bathing program, which advocates for the protection, conservation, and development of urban forests in the Philippines.
Forest bathing, also called Shinrin-yoku in Japan, means bathing in the forest atmosphere or taking in the forest using one’s senses. It emerged in the 1980s as a means to prevent technology burnout among urban workers, and inspire urban dwellers to reconnect with and protect the forests.
Through this agreement, the parties will develop the 23.85-ha Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) in Quezon City. The NAPWC is a legislated Protected Area, in accordance with the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2018. It is an ecotourism destination that also serves as a venue for forest and biodiversity conservation, as it is a home to more than 3,000 trees. It also houses the Leonard Co Garden of Native Flora, where people can organize and join “tree walks” and educational conferences. Lastly, it supports the Wildlife Rescue Center, which serves as a temporary shelter and rehabilitation facility for confiscated, donated, or abandoned wildlife. This initiative is part of the DENR-BMB’s Urban Biodiversity Program, which promotes forest bathing as a means to protect and conserve the environment, while improving the health and wellness of urban dwellers.
“We are pleased to partner with the DENR-BMB, PALA, and PIEP in a program that promotes the conservation of urban spaces and integrated ecosystems for the well-being of urban dwellers. We call on everyone to take part in our efforts to conserve biodiversity in our cities, develop urban green spaces, and reconnect ourselves with nature,“ said Atty. Jose Andres Canivel, Executive Director of the Forest Foundation.
Assistant Director Amelita Ortiz of the DENR-BMB added, “I am elated that the NAPWC has been chosen as one of the pilot sites of the urban forest bathing project in the Philippines. I fervently hope that our study area will be replicated in more areas in the Philippines as a strategy to protect urban forests.”
The Presidents of PALA and PIEP also showed their support to this initiative. PALA President Pamela Sarunya Pagana shared, “This forest bathing project will let us share our knowledge and expertise in the establishment of areas that will encourage people to be with one nature.” PIEP President Maria Jorques Hakcholna remarked, “This forest bathing project looks at how forests and other ecosystems could come back through reforesting, even in the city. This endeavor could make more areas available for nature spaces to return correspondingly.”
About the Organizations:
- DENR-BMB is the mandated government agency that conserves and sustainably manages the country’s biodiversity.
- Forest Foundation Philippines is a non-profit organization that provides grants to organizations that empower the people to protect the forests.
- PALA is the national organization representing the profession of landscape architecture in the country.
- PIEP is the accredited professional organization for the environmental planners in the Philippines.