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Environmentalist group airs call on biodiversity conservation PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 21 June 2007

Ruth Grace Ambal, manager of biodiversity analysis synthesis and monitoring unit of Conservation International - PhilippinesPUERTO PRINCESA - Conservation International-Philippines has called on Filipinos to seriously protect and conserve the country’s 128 Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), noting that “it is an indicator of a healthy environment.”

Ruth Grace Ambal, manager of biodiversity analysis synthesis and monitoring unit of CI-Philippines, said the 128 KBAs are home to threatened species and it is very important to conserve and protect these species.

“They are interconnected to us and indication of a healthy environment,” she added.

Ambal talked on “The Significance of Biodiversity vis-à-vis Sustainable Development in Palawan” during a forum in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the province’s special law, Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) held at the Legend Hotel in this city Tuesday.

CI’s call supports President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Executive Order 578 establishing the national policy on biological diversity.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo T. Reyes agreed with President Arroyo that the Philippines is now in the middle of a “biodiversity crisis.”

Ambal stressed that KBAs are “sites of global significance for biodiversity conservation, identified using globally standard criteria and thresholds based on the needs of biodiversity requiring safeguard at the site scale."

It is also identified for threatened amphibians, mammals, birds, reptiles, and freshwater fish, as well as for restricted-range and congregatory, using confirmed locality data for each target species, she added.

According to Ambal, Palawan is one of the 128 KBAs where 105 or 22 percent of the 475 threatened species are found based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Participants of 15th anniversary of the province’s special law, Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP)

An IUCN report also showed that 67 or 64 percent of the 105 threatened species found in the province are endemic to the country, and 42 or 63 percent of these is endemic to Palawan.

The other KBAs in the country are the Sulu Sulawesi Marine Ecosystem (SSME) and the Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor, which is believed to harbor the richest marine species in the world and is the marine counterpart to the Amazon River Basin.

The Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor, which is within the SSME, covers the provinces of Batangas, Mindoro Occidental, Mindoro Oriental, Marinduque and Romblon. It has been identified by scientists as the “Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Diversity in the World.”

President Arroyo declared the Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor as a marine sanctuary and a national protected area.

The corridors of Sierra Madre, Eastern Mindanao, Cagayan Ridge, Balabac-Bataraza and Tri-national Sea Turtle are also identified KBAs in the country.

Ambal said the CI works closely with local people, non-government organizations and public officials to develop conservation programs that protect biodiversity and are sensitive to the economic needs of local communities.

She further said they are also set to develop strategies to raise awareness of conservation issues and help bring about positive changes in laws, policies and attitude toward biodiversity.

In protecting and conserving KBAs, she admitted that there are challenges where development and the conservation of biodiversity are often portrayed as contradictory objectives.

But Ambal said CI promotes management solutions that reconcile human livelihood needs with environment protection and take initiatives among institutions to address the challenges based on solid expertise across the multiplicity of issues that must be considered to make them work.

”Sustainable development is meeting the needs of the present without comprising our ability to meet the needs of the future,” she pointed out. (By Alex Villanueva Jr., PNA)


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