The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has warned the public against gathering and trading plants, especially wild plants and those classified as endangered plant species.
In its Facebook page, the DENR warned that the collection of plants such as wild flora directly from the forest without permit, especially those considered as threatened species, is prohibited under Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
The DENR’s Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2017- 11 stipulates that “the collection and trade of threatened species are prohibited unless such acts are covered by a permit issued by the DENR.
One of its regional executive director assigned in Zamboanga Peninsula, Crisanta Marlene P. Rodriguez has warned the plant poachers that they will face legal complications once they are caught gathering wild plant in the forest without permit.
Illegal poachers who are caught collecting wild plants classified as critically endangered will face imprisonment from six to 12 years and a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1-Million.
Among the critically endangered plants are the Giant staghorn fern or Capa de Leon (Platycerium grande), Staghorn fern (Platycerium coronarium) and the Waling-waling (Vanda sanderiana).
Those that are considered as threatened species are the Green Velvet Alocasia (Alocasia micholitziana), Kris plant (Alocasia sanderiana) and the Zebra Plant (Alocasia zebrina).
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.
The DENR has instructed its field offices to strengthen the surveillance and monitoring of illegal plant trade and strictly impose fines and penalties on the offenders.
Palawan, considered as the country’s last ecological frontier has various flora species that are endemic to the province and are being protected by the efforts of the government due to deforestation and over-harvesting.
Botanist Ulysses Ferreras, in his study on various plants in Palawan, has identified Lxora palawanensis, a santan species, Tarenna palawanensis, described as a plant with attractive flowers, Epithema madulidii a plant species found in El Nido and Coron Garcinia busuangensis among other plants considered as endemic to the island and can only be found in Palawan.
Some plant enthusiasts in Puerto Princesa and Palawan are complaining because they have observed the sudden surge of the prices of some plant species, especially indoor ornamental plants. They said that these highly-priced plant cost thousands of pesos are offered online through Facebook.