Legarda Enjoins Antiqueños to Conserve Northwest Panay Peninsula Park, Other Protected Areas

October 24, 2018

Senator Loren Legarda today enjoined her fellow Antiqueños as well as citizens of the Panay island to protect the region’s natural resources, especially its protected areas, such as the Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park (NWPPNP).

Legarda, a staunch environmentalist and principal author of the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2018 (ENIPAS) under Republic Act No. 11038, said that protected areas are critical in biodiversity conservation. Biodiversity is essential for human existence as it provides for the many goods and services we need, such as: clean air, fresh water and food products, as well as the many other products like timber and fiber.

“Antiqueños and Aklanons are fortunate to have the Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park, home to the famous Tarictic Hornbill and Dulungan Hornbill and other endemic species of flora and fauna in the Western Visayas. Its lush forests and natural springs are important sources of water and refuge for the various animals in the area,” said Legarda.

The NWPPNP, which covers a total land area of 12,000.29 hectares, is situated in the provinces of Aklan and Antique, covering five municipalities: Malay, Buruanga and Nabas in Aklan and Libertad and Pandan in Antique.

Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance, said that she ensured funding for the management and protection of NWPPNP—P1.680 million in 2017, P3.673 million in 2018, and P4.977 million for 2019. The funds are intended for various activities such as protection and management programs, ecotourism development, information, education and communication campaign, hiring of staff, and updating of protected area management plan.

According to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office of Antique, activities include planting of rainforest/agroforestry species of trees, inventory of forest occupants within the buffer zone, hiring of forest protection officer to conduct monitoring of forest resource use, production of coffee table book and signages, and conduct of school fora about biodiversity conservation and wildlife illegal activities in various schools in Libertad and Pandan.

Meanwhile, Legarda also funded the creation of the Pandan Arboretum and Eco-Park, an ecotourism area that aims to promote biodiversity-friendly tourism activities and develop sustainable livelihood enterprises.

The Pandan Arboretum and Eco-Park located at Barangay Santo Rosario in Pandan has a total area of 108,925 hectares where trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes. It has an arboretum for old-growth trees, a bambusetum (bamboo garden), a palmetum (palm garden), an orchidarium, and an herbarium.

“This is our effort to protect endangered species of trees, which also leads to the protection of biodiversity in the province. Through the Pandan Arboretum, we want to showcase the richness of the province in terms of natural resources, at the same time, I want my kasimanwas to realize how blessed we are and that we are responsible in ensuring that these finite resources are protected for the sake of future Antiqueños,” said Legarda.

“I authored the Expanded NIPAS Act, which covers 94 protected areas all over the country, so that we have the legal mechanism to protect critical biodiversity areas and prevent biodiversity loss. The challenge for us is to ensure its strict implementation and promote awareness on the importance of conserving biodiversity and of the underlying threats to it. Our programs for the Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park and the Pandan Arboretum and Eco-Park are just some examples of how we can operationalize the ENIPAS Law,” Legarda concluded.