FOCUS on the conservation of the different Protected Areas in the region is being pursued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Western Visayas.
Regional executive director Francisco “Toto” E. Miila, Jr. of the DENR-6 emphasized to all the Protected Areas Superintendents (PASus) that “the Protected Areas will be DENR’s legacy to all stakeholders,” in a recent meeting with them.
The meeting was conducted to know the status of the Protected Areas in the different areas of responsibility of the designated PASus. Milla instructed them to identify issues and gaps that need to be addressed, as well as the possible recommendations of what should be done as they are the men on the ground.
Western Visayas has a total of fourteen PA’s namely: Aklan River Watershed Forest Reserve and Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park in Aklan; Sibalom Natural Park and Dalanas Watershed Forest Reserve in Antique; Panay River Watershed Forest Reserve in Capiz; Taklong Island National Marine Reserve in Guimaras; Bulabog Putian National Park, Jalaur River Watershed Forest Reserve and Maasin Watershed Forest Reserve in Iloilo; and Mount Kanlaon Natural Park, Northern Negros Natural Park, Tañon Strait Protected Seascape, Ilog Hilabangan Watershed Forest Reserve and Sagay Marine Reserve in Negros Occidental. Five out of 14 PA’s were legislated and the rest are still on initial component.
As an initial component the PA shall go through a 4-step process for the DENR. The steps will include: compiling technical descriptions and maps of the areas designated; an initial screening of these areas for their sustainability for inclusion of the NIPAS; studies and public hearings to build a case for formal establishment of suitable areas in this group as protected areas; and preparing final recommendations for the President and the Congress.
Republic Act 110381, or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Act of 2018 strengthens the protection and the addition of more than 94 legislated protected areas in the Philippines.
The Act includes the provision of scientific and technical support for biodiversity conservation; delineation and demarcation of boundaries; deputation of support especially on enforcement to the Protected Area Superintendents (PASus); regular reporting on the status of the Integrated Protected Area Fund (IPAF) and allocating 75 percent of all revenues raised to the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB). It also prohibits the use and possession of destructive fishing gears within the protected seascape.
Areas which encompasses ecologically rich and unique areas that are habitats of rare and threatened species of plants and animals, biogeographic zones and related ecosystems, whether terrestrial, wetland or marine, all of which shall be designated as ‘protected areas’.
Furthermore, the DENR, as the lead agency in protecting the PAs is giving more emphasis on developing and preserving the natural resources and the beauty of each protected areas.
With the help of the local government units (LGUs) and the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) within the PAs, the DENR 6 is looking forward to a better and well preserved legacy that will continue for the next generations to come.
The conservation of Protected Areas is anchored on Enhanced Biodiversity Conservation, one of the ten priority programs of DENR secretary Roy A. Cimatu./PN