“The collection of wild flora directly from the forest, especially those considered as threatened species, without permit is prohibited under Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.”

This was announced by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Zamboanga Peninsula Executive Director Crisanta Marlene P. Rodriguez who said plant poachers caught gathering wild plants in the forest without a permit can be charged by her office under this law.

Director Rodriguez added that Department Administrative Order No. 2017- 11 stipulates that “collection and trade of threatened species are prohibited unless such acts are covered under a permit issued by the DENR and the species are found in areas under a valid tenure instrument or a parcel of land covered by a title under the Torrens System.”

"Furthermore, collection of plant species within Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) sites are strictly for research purposes and would require Gratuitous Permits issued by the DENR", she said.

If the wild plants collected are classified as critically endangered, violators can face imprisonment from 6 to 12 years and a fine of Php 100,000 to 1,000,000. Some examples of plants considered as critically endangered are the Giant staghorn fern or Capa de Leon (Platycerium grande), Staghorn fern (Platycerium coronarium) and the Waling-waling (Vanda sanderiana). Examples of other threatened species are the Green Velvet Alocasia (Alocasia micholitziana), Kris plant (Alocasia sanderiana) and the Zebra Plant (Alocasia zebrina). For a complete list, you may download DENR DAO 2017-11 at http://bit.ly/DENRThreatenedPHPlants.

Science Direct studies indicate that aside from harboring crop viruses and other pathogens, wild plants act as important reservoirs and sources of insects, mites, and nematodes. Certain wild plant species may be indispensable to a vector as its alternate host, acting as an essential intermediary in the ecology of the virus.

DENR IX cautions the public on the said illegal practices and advises the public to secure proper permits in the collection and trade of plant species.

Director Rodriguez has instructed the different field offices to strengthen surveillance and monitoring of illegal plant trade and strictly impose fines and penalties on offenders.#