DENR-BMB, Loren Legarda continue to partner in promoting Philippine protected areas

September 9, 2021

Protected areas (PAs) encompass the most biologically significant and pristine forests, freshwater and marine ecosystems of the country that serve as assurance for economic, cultural and ecological sustainability for the present and future generation.

Since the passage of Republic Act No. 7586, or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992, and its amendments under Republic Act No. 11038, or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Act of 2018, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) successfully set aside 244 protected areas, including the 107 legislated and 13 proclaimed protected areas, all over the country primarily to sustain ecosystem services, among other non-extractive economic activities such as eco-tourism.

Amidst the conflicting interests and land uses for economic development and the impacts of climate change, the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) has been relentless in its efforts to educate the citizenry and to gather collective support to help sustain the integrity of our country’s natural ecosystems, especially our pristine protected areas.

The DENR-BMB, in partnership with the Office of three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda, has produced “Our Fragile Earth: Protected Areas of the Philippines”, a documentary series aired on the ABSCBN News Channel (ANC) as well as organized the regular webinar series titled, Protected Areas Talk, or P.A. Talk.

Our Fragile Earth aims to feature our protected areas to educate the stakeholders and the Filipino people on its importance as repository of our diverse and unique biological heritage, for sustenance of ecological processes, provision of food, water and raw materials for many livelihoods, and for the maintenance of ecological balance and environmental conditions critical for human survival.

“How can we conserve what we do not know about, what we do not understand? Our people’s energies must be used to defend our natural heritage. We must all work together to conserve wildlife and nature and mitigate disasters worsened by climate change. Our survival also depends on how well we understand our surroundings,” Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, principal author of the ENIPAS Act, said.

Since its inception in 2017, Our Fragile Earth has featured 40 documentaries focusing solely on our protected areas.

Its first installment showcased 12 pilot areas in Occidental Mindoro, Quezon, Cebu, Palawan, Ifugao, South Cotabato, Davao Oriental, Negros Occidental and Batangas. It had a total of five (5) episodes. It had a re-run in July 2018 to highlight the enactment of the ENIPAS Act of 2018.

The second installment featured 20 protected areas in 10 episodes which were aired from November 29, 2020 until January 31, 2021.

Now on its third season, Our Fragile Earth is now airing until September 12, 2021, showcasing eight (8) protected areas from Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Davao Region, and SOCCSKSARGEN.

The featured PAs in Season 3 include Pujada Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape, Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape, Quezon Protected Landscape, Amro River Protected Landscape, Talaytay Protected Landscape, Simbahan-Talagas Protected Landscape, Dinadiawan River Protected Landscape and Masinloc and Oyon Bay Protected Landscape.

“I principally authored the Expanded NIPAS Act, which seeks to conserve our protected areas. Its passage in 2018 was just the beginning. Now that we already have the legal mechanism to protect these critical areas and prevent biodiversity loss, the challenge for us is to ensure its strict implementation as well as to increase awareness of the public on the importance of conserving biodiversity and of the underlying threats thereto,” Legarda said.

The Protected Area or P.A. Talk, on the other hand, is a webinar series that focuses on our environmental frontliners or the people who manage our protected areas and their experiences and commitment in ensuring the integrity of our PAs.

The P.A. Talk showcases the various facets of protected area management. It has streamed six (6) episodes featuring 22 protected areas since June 22, 2020 via the Facebook pages of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda and the DENR- BMB. Through these programs, the DENR-BMB continues to reach out to its stakeholders and the Filipino people about the importance of our protected areas, government programs and initiatives and the laws that protect these natural wonders.

“Our Fragile Earth and the P.A. Talk have proven to be valuable avenues in creating public awareness and appreciation for our protected areas even while our PAs cannot be visited yet by tourists physically due the current pandemic,” Undersecretary for Special Concerns and BMB OIC Director Edilberto Leonardo said.

“We hope that through these avenues, the public, especially the younger generation, can be better informed about the importance of our protected areas and how we can do our share to conserve them,” he added. ##