Helicopter reconaissance is to be stepped up in the Philippines in the fight against illegal logging.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the use of helicopters could give forest rangers the advantage they need to spot illegal sawmills in forested areas. There are also plans to use high technology satellite imaging to help verify visual reports on the ground of illegal activity.

The use of helicopters has already led to the seizure of illegal logs being floated down river and the closure of four illegal sawmills which were capable of processing about 50 trees a day on two shifts.

The DENR has also launched Operation Saruman which has pledged to prosecute corrupt DENR officials and will attempt to reforest eight million ha of logged forest land.