THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered the strengthening of measures to preserve terrestrial and marine biodiversity in mining operations in the country.

In signing DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2022-04 or the Enhancing Biodiversity Conservation and Protection in Mining Operations, DENR Acting Secretary Jim Sampulna said the order intends to provide guidelines on responsible mining to ensure the protection and mitigation of the negative effects of the activities to biodiversity.

Sampulna also said that the directive, which covers all stages of onshore and offshore mining operations, will intensify 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," he stressed.

"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," Sampulna added.

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DAO 2022-04 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 in all stages of mining operations, including exploration, development and utilization, closure, decommissioning and rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, the order also mandates the progressive rehabilitation, or temporary revegetation of disturbed areas, to be undertaken at every stage of mining operation to restore mined-out areas and allow regeneration of the biodiversity to preserve "ecosystem goods and services."

The order, published last April 21, also prompts mining companies to integrate biodiversity conservation and protection in their social development and management program (SDMP).

SDMP is the five-year plan of 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."