Negros Occidental commemorates Environment Week
BY: ERROL A. GATUMBATO
On its 20th year, the province of Negros Occidental is now commemorating Environment Week with a theme “Green from Above, Blue from Below”. The long-week celebration officially takes off today with Holy Mass and opening ceremony at the Provincial Administration Center, where Governor Freddie Maraňon is expected to deliver his environmental message. The provincial government, through the Provincial Environment Management Office, spearheads the Environment Week, in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and other national agencies, along with several civil society organizations, like the Negros Forest and Ecological Foundation and the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation.
Simultaneous unveiling of various environmental exhibits in the lobby of the capitol, Robinson’s Place and Gaisano City will immediately follow after the opening ceremony. Exhibits are open for public viewing until Friday this week. On June 19, a series of environmental forums shall be held at the PAC. The public, especially schools, is encouraged to attend the discussion on “Climate Change Adaptation and Carbon Footprint Calculation” at 9:00 to 11:00 am, back-to-back at the same time with a topic on “The New Generation of Watershed Management”. In the afternoon, “Composting 101” and “Biodiversity Conservation: Water Birds of Negros and Irrawaddy Dolphins” are additional topics for discussion in the forums.
Everyone is also invited to participate in the province-wide tree planting and coastal clean up on June 20 and 21, respectively. Designated sites have been identified by the PEMO and the different cities and municipalities in Negros Occidental. The Environment Week will culminate on Friday with environmental jamming at the Capitol Lagoon from 4:00 to 8:00pm. The organizers of this event are also recommending to the public to take time and visit places that showcase environmental protection and conservation, such as the sanitary landfills in Sagay, San Carlos, Bago, Sipalay and Cadiz Cities, and the man-made forest of the Alter Trade-assisted communities in La Castellana. For wildlife enthusiasts, migratory bird watching in San Enrique and Irrawaddy Dolphins watch in Pulupandan are being recommended by organizers to make the Environment Week celebration even more exciting.
The Biodiversity Conservation Center of the NFEFI and PBCFI in South Capitol Road, Bacolod City will also open for educational tours on threatened wildlife species, while other recommended sites include the Mangrove Forest Park in Binalbagan, Museum sang Bata and Sagay Marine Reserve in Sagay City, AID Foundation and RU Foundry in Bacolod City for environment-friendly technologies, May’s Garden and Peňalosa Farms for organic farm products and Quiet Place in Bago City.
While the planned activities for the Environment Week showcase various conservation initiatives, let us be reminded that the work for environment is still very far from over. Negros Occidental remains a critical biodiversity hotspot because its numerous endemic species are highly threatened and several of which may soon be declared as extinct. The forest restoration in some sites is gaining momentum, but the remaining forest of the province is not yet fully secured from destructive and illegal activities, with the continuing incidents of slash and burn farming, timber poaching and charcoal making from the natural forest. On the other hand, water pollution in some river systems, particularly in Victorias and Hinigaran remain unattended by concerned authorities, while illegal fishing activities continue to threaten our coastal and marine ecosystems.
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