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Legarda Renews Call for Sustainable Management of Protected Areas

July 13, 2015

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, today challenged all members of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) to share their passion in caring for our protected areas with their respective communities by getting them involved in carrying out sustainable conservation activities.

 

In her keynote speech at the National PAMB Conference, Legarda said the Board plays a vital role in promoting awareness regarding the importance of protecting the country’s unique and at the same time endangered biodiversity and the threats that come along with biodiversity loss.

 

“Share your passion in caring for our protected areas to people in your communities by allowing them to appreciate the beauty of our protected areas, but at the same time make them understand that apathy and exploitation of our natural resources and protected areas could lead to dangerous consequences, such as loss of biological diversity, both for wildlife species and their habitat; occurrence of calamities and continued illegal and unsustainable resource utilization,” Legarda explained.

 

The Senator expressed concern that the continuing abuse of our will further endanger the country’s biodiversity.

 

She added, “Further endangering the precarious situation of our country’s biodiversity is the challenge of climate change. Among the projected impacts of climate change is the loss of thousands of species as well as changes in the natural ecosystem, which has been found as one of the underlying drivers of disaster risks and poverty. Therefore, the conservation of our protected areas is crucial in climate change adaptation and mitigation.”

 

Legarda stressed that protected areas can help protect vulnerable communities and reduce the impact of natural hazards. “Mangrove forests serve as buffer against storm surge and tsunami. 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.”

 

“Protecting ecosystems – which involves rehabilitating our forests, cleaning our rivers, and stopping pollution, among other actions, need to be done as soon as today,” she said.

 

Legarda also encouraged the Board to continue supporting the immediate passage of the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) bill which seeks to cover the remaining unprotected areas in the Philippines that require legislative enactment and to establish a legal basis for local communities and other stakeholders to participate in the management and protection of the areas.

 

She said that despite the enactment of the NIPAS Act in 1992, the protection of many protected areas exist only on paper. Many important ecosystems remain underprotected, including open seas, coastal areas, wetlands and tropical forests.

 

“But we have to remember that even if we have the legal mechanism to prevent biodiversity loss, our efforts would be wasted if people are unaware of the importance of conserving biodiversity and of the underlying threats to it. I strongly encourage members of PAMB to influence the public in caring for our natural wealth. The challenge is for all of us to make our environment cleaner, greener and safer for future generations. If we do not act today, tomorrow may be too late,” Legarda concluded.