Expanding and diversifying protected areas system in the Philippines
BY: ERROL A. GATUMBATO
TAGAYTAY CITY… The Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources, with funding support from the United Nations Development Programme – Global Environment Facility, embarks a project that would expand and diversify the national system of the terrestrial protected areas in the Philippines. In a workshop here, PAWB Assistant Director Antonio Manila said that this project will cover a five-year period commencing this year with a grant fund from UNDP-GEF amounting to US$ 3.5 million.
The government is expected to provide a counterpart fund totaling to US$ 1.2 million. Several non-government organizations are co-implementing agencies of this project, and will provide additional support fund estimated at US$ 1.3 million. With a total funding of US$ 9.9 million, this project aims the expansion of the protected area system under new and diverse management regimes covering an additional 400,000 hectares of Key Biodiversity Areas of the Philippines.
Addressing representatives from various DENR regional offices, National Council for Indigenous People, and NGOs in the project inception workshop here, PAWB Director Mundita Lim said that this UNDP-GEF supported initiative shall explore mechanisms and approaches, other than the protected areas system, in conserving the country’s amazing biological diversity. Mundita added that this project, entitled “Expanding and Diversifying the National System of the Terrestrial Protected Areas in the Philippines”, will engage partnership with local government units, NCIP, Indigenous People, communities, and NGOs in developing innovative biodiversity conservation approaches in nine project sites across the country. The identified NGOs to be involved in project implementation are the World Wild Fund, Conservation International, Haribon Foundation, Foundation for the Philippine Environment, and the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, among others.
The nine sites under this project are all included in the list of Key Biodiversity Areas because they contain a number of Philippines endemic species with high global conservation values. The project areas include the Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park in Kalinga province, the mountains bordering Zambales and Tarlac provinces, Mounts Irid Angelo and Binuang in Rizal, Bulacan and Quezon provinces, Polillo Group of Islands, also in Quezon province, Mount Iglit-Baco in Oriental and Occidental Mindoro provinces, Nug-as forest in Cebu province, Mount Nacolod in Southern Leyte province, Mount Hilong-hilong in Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Norte provinces, and Tawi-tawi Island in Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.
It is expected that this project shall enable the development of diverse management schemes and ensure the participation of various stakeholders, such as the IP groups, local governments and communities, in conserving the biodiversity of the project sites. The project is further aiming to address barriers and systematic gaps in biodiversity management by improving conservation effectiveness through enhancement of systematic, institutional, and individual capacities.
The implementation of this project provides opportunity to showcase other conservation modalities in as much that many biodiversity important areas in the Philippines are not yet included in the National Integrated Protected Areas System of the country. The procedures for the establishment of protected areas under the NIPAS are so tedious such that many conservation organizations are advocating for the implementation of other strategies in addressing threats to the biodiversity of the Philippines. Since the enactment of the NIPAS Act in 1992, only 12 protected areas have been finally declared by the Congress.
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