DENR order prompts biodiversity protection in mineral extraction  

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna has recently issued an order seeking to strengthen biodiversity protection and conservation against mining operations.

Sampulna handed down DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2022-04, or the “Enhancing Biodiversity Conservation and Protection in Mining Operations,” which intends to provide guidelines on responsible mining to ensure the protection and mitigation of the negative effects of the activities on biodiversity.

The directive, which covers all stages of on-shore and off shore mining operations, will intensify the strict implementation of responsible mining practices.

“With this new order, we believe that mining companies will be more mindful of their practices in utilizing the country’s natural and mineral resources,” Sampulna said in a news statement.

“We have repeatedly mentioned in the past that mineral extracting operations can be done responsibly, that the rich biodiversity within the mine site can be protected. Thus, this order is expected to support our responsible mining initiative,” he said.

The new DENR order requires mining contractors; permit holders, and permittees to include biodiversity measures in their respective Environmental Work Program, Environmental Protection, and Enhancement Program, and Final Mine Rehabilitation and/or Decommissioning Plan.

These biodiversity measures will be integrated into all stages of mining operations, including exploration, development and utilization, closure, decommissioning and rehabilitation.

The order also mandates the progressive rehabilitation, or temporary re-vegetation of disturbed areas, to be undertaken at every stage of a mining operation to restore mined-out areas and allow regeneration of the biodiversity to preserve “ecosystem goods and services.”

The order also prompts mining companies to integrate biodiversity conservation and protection in their Social Development and Management Program (SDMP), a five-year plan for mining contractors and permit holders, which contains plans to support the development and empowerment of host and neighboring communities.

DAO 2022-04 identified various SDMP measures such as “inclusion of biodiversity-friendly enterprises, propagation of native plants, development of green parks, promotion of agroforestry, and other wealth creation projects that would create green jobs to augment livelihood during and after mining.”

The Biodiversity Management Bureau, Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, and its regional counterparts, are also mandated to take part in relevant committees such as the contingent liability and rehabilitation fund steering committee, mine rehabilitation fund committee, and multipartite monitoring team.