Legarda: Conservation of Protected Areas Vital in Climate Change Mitigation

July 8, 2015

Senator Loren Legarda today said that the conservation of the country’s protected areas is crucial in climate change adaptation and mitigation.


Legarda made the statement at hearing of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, which she chairs, held at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City, the lone proclaimed protected area in Metro Manila where the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) holds office.


“Protected areas can help protect vulnerable communities and reduce the impact of natural hazards. Mangrove forests serve as buffer against storm surge and tsunami. Protected areas sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in natural ecosystems,” she stressed.


She added, “For climate change mitigation, terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems serve as major carbon stores and sinks as they reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from energy production and land use change.”


The United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC) estimates that 312 gigatonnes of carbon or 15% of the world’s terrestrial carbon stock are stored in protected areas.


However, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment estimated that 60% of global ecosystem services are degraded, reducing their ability to mitigate the impact of natural hazards. It found that climate change is among the most important direct drivers of biodiversity loss and ecosystem service changes, along with habitat change, invasive alien species, overexploitation and pollution.


“Clearly, the conservation of our protected areas must be part of climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. As part of our commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we must strengthen the protection of our environment and ensure the sustainable use of our natural resources,” said Legarda.


The Senate has approved on second reading the proposed Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Act, sponsored by Legarda, which ensures stronger conservation of 97 protected areas in the country.


Wednesday’s hearing was the third hearing of the Senate Committee on Climate Change about the government’s efforts in preparing the country’s intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) as part of its commitment for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris this year.


Legarda said that as third highest in the world in terms of vulnerability to weather-related extreme events based on a 2013 World Bank study, and following its acceptance of the presidency this year of the Climate Vulnerability Forum (CVF), the Philippines must lead by example among developing countries and submit to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat an INDC that highlights its commitment to pursue climate justice and equitable growth for all.


The call for INDCs urges all nations to submit their individual plans for reducing emissions after the year 2020 with the objective of limiting the increase in global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.