Legarda: Protected Areas, Land Use Plan Vital To Disaster Risk Reduction

May 28, 2015

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, today emphasized the important role of the efficient use and management of land resources and the establishment of a system of protected areas in disaster risk reduction.

Speaking at the 5th Monthly Business Meeting of the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Association (CREBA), Legarda said that the protection of our environment and proper allocation of land resources are crucial in building resilience and adapting to the changing climate.

“Our natural resources have come under such intense human pressure—inappropriate use of land and abuse of environment—that our biodiversity and whole ecosystem are now under threat. In recent years, our country has experienced disasters turbocharged by a changing climate, which threaten to undo years of development gains,” Legarda stressed.

The Senator said a significant step towards the preservation and protection of our country’s biodiversity is the establishment of a system of protected areas – ranging from huge natural parks, to landscapes and seascapes.

“The passage of the expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act will cover the remaining areas requiring legislative enactment through a lengthy and careful inclusion procedure. Out of 113 areas declared by the President as protected areas under the NIPAS, only 13 have proceeded to be legislated as such, even as 23 years have passed since the passage of the NIPAS Act in 1992,” the Senator stressed.

She added, “By virtue of their protective status, our forests should remain free from destructive human intervention. Moreover, protected areas can restore ecosystems that have been damaged by natural calamities.”

Legarda also said that another important measure being discussed in the Senate is the proposed National Land Use Policy Act (NLUA) which aims to provide a rational, holistic and just allocation, utilization, management, and development of the country’s land resources. It proposes the formulation of a National Physical Framework Plan that will indicate broad spatial directions and policy guidelines encompassing the four categories of land use—protection, production, settlements and infrastructure development.

“These categories will ensure that our country’s land resources will be utilized in a manner that is beneficial and sustainable for all sectors of society, today and for generations to follow,” she said.

She added that adopting the appropriate use of land to be determined in a participatory manner, by all stakeholders, including business and the private sector, through the land use policy councils and boards will help minimize the risks that hazards may bring.

“With the NLUA, local government units as well as national agencies will also be better informed on formulating land use plans and executing the strategies that will provide for safe, secure and sustainable communities throughout the country,” said Legarda.