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Bill increasing number of areas for conservation passes third reading at the Senate

July 29, 2015

A MEASURE that increases the number of areas to be protected and conserved by declaring them national parks has passed third and final reading on Tuesday at the Senate.

Senate Bill (SB) 2712 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas (NIPAS) Act of 2015 widens coverage of protected areas as indicated in Republic Act 7586 or the NIPAS Act of 1992 which established protected areas such as natural parks, landscapes, and seascapes.

NIPAS is defined as “the classification and administration of all designated protected areas to maintain essential ecological processes and life-support systems, to preserve genetic diversity, to ensure sustainable use of resources found therein, and to maintain their natural conditions to the greatest extent possible.”

Of the 113 areas declared as protected since 1992, only 13 protected areas had proceeded to be legislated since the passage of the law 23 years ago, Senator Loren B. Legarda said in a statement. She is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

SB 2712 adds 96 more parcels of land to the existing 13 protected areas that will be declared and established as protected areas under the classification of national parks through legislation.

Each area’s location and boundaries would be described in an annex to be added to the act. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, with the assistance of other agencies as necessary, will delineate and demarcate on the ground the boundaries of each protected area that cannot be modified except through an act of Congress.

SB 2712 defines protected areas as “lands of the public domain classified as such in the 1987 Constitution which include all areas under the NIPAS pursuant to Republic Act No. 7586 primarily designated for the conservation of native plants and animals, and their associated habitats and cultural diversity.”

The bill’s passage would “help conserve and protect representative samples of unique, rare and threatened species of plants and animals and their habitat including cultural diversity,” added Ms. Legarda.

“If enacted, local communities and other stakeholders will have the legal basis and incentive to participate in the management and protection of the areas,” Ms. Legarda said in her sponsorship speech of the measure back in March, which she reiterated in the statement she made on Tuesday.

SB 2712 replaced 22 senate bills and considered 10 measures from the House of Representatives.

Source: Business World Online