Legarda Calls for Greater Action to Protect Wildlife, Biodiversity

March 3, 2018

On World Wildlife Day (March 3), Senator Loren Legarda enjoined everyone to engage in biodiversity conservation efforts, particularly in protecting endangered wildlife.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and UNISDR Global Champion for Resilience, said that threats to survival of wildlife species likewise endanger the delicate ecological balance.

“We need to take greater action to protect the delicate ecological balance among man, animal and nature. It is incumbent upon us humans, who are the stewards of the Earth, to be more responsible as most of our actions are the very threats to our ecology,” Legarda stressed.

She explained that, “Biodiversity loss is caused mainly by habitat destruction and wildlife trade. To address this, the full force of the law must be applied on all wildlife smugglers, while treading the sustainable development path would help preserve species and natural habitats.”

The Senator said that the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 (Republic Act No. 9147), which she principally authored and sponsored, aims to maintain ecological balance and enhance biological diversity through the conservation and protection of wildlife species and their habitats. It regulates the collection and trade of wildlife, especially protecting threatened or exotic species under domestic law pursuant to international conventions.

Legarda also stressed that the conservation of the country’s protected areas is crucial in protecting wildlife species.

During the Senate hearing on the environmental issues surrounding the island of Boracay, the Senator lamented the encroachment of establishments on wetlands in the island.

Wetlands are protected under the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act and any activity that disrupts or destroys the habitat is prohibited. However, 5 of the 9 wetland areas in Boracay Island now have structures or establishments.

In line with this, Legarda asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to submit a report on the scope of the wetlands, what structures have been built, as well as who were the local environment officers in the last 10 years, under whose term the construction of such establishments were done.

Moreover, Legarda said she hopes to further strengthen the conservation of the country’s protected areas through her proposed amendments to the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992.

The proposed Expanded NIPAS aims to establish a legal basis for local communities and other stakeholders to participate in the management and protection of the areas.

“This will also help conserve and protect representative samples of unique, rare and threatened species of plants and animals and habitat including cultural diversity, by declaring as national parks the remaining parcels of land under the NIPAS, thus, ensuring the sustainable use of our natural resources,” she added.

Legarda also said that addressing climate change is very important in preserving wildlife species, noting that 30% of species would be at risk of extinction due to the warming climate.

 “The Philippines is a mega diverse country, but it is also one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, with a large number of species either endangered or threatened of extinction. There needs to be stronger convergence among government agencies and local government units and collaboration with the private sector, civil society and all our citizens, to protect our wildlife species and conserve our biodiversity,” Legarda concluded.