Government to Highlight Best Practices in LGU-Led Conservation Initiatives
Theresa Mundita S. Lim of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) was one of the many who spoke during the conference.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), with assistance from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) – Global Environmental Facility (GEF) New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project (NewCAPP), GIZ supported Protected Area Management Enhancement (PAME) Project, Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PTFCF), and Haribon Foundation, hosted the National Conference on Local Conservation Areas (LCAs) with this year’s theme, Diversifying and Strengthening Participatory and Local Governance in Biodiversity Conservation.
Two hundred (200) local government units (LGU) within the Key Biodiversity Areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao regions gathered to promote LGU-led biodiversity conservation initiatives. The Conference featured terrestrial and coastal LGUs which have pilot-tested establishment of LCAs within their territorial jurisdictions. A significant highlight of this Conference is the convergence among different national government agencies (NGAs), including the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Tourism (DOT) and Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), on promoting biodiversity conservation in local environmental and development planning activities.
Two hundred (200) local government units (LGU) within the Key Biodiversity Areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao regions gathered to promote LGU-led biodiversity conservation initiatives.
An LCA is an area, network of areas, or areas straddling adjacent local governments usually located within KBAs but outside of protected areas proclaimed under National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act. It is established mainly for conservation purposes through Local Ordinances by LGUs. It can also refer to critical habitats managed by LGUs under the Wildlife Act.
During the conference, different LCA approaches, and on-site examples on how LGUs established their local conservation areas were presented such as the passage of a local ordinance similar to the case of Bud Bongao (Tawi-Tawi). Other LGUs have opted to go into inter-LGU alliance. This is applicable to several LGUs which decide to collaborate in maintaining inter-connectivity of habitats and wildlife resources. Dalaguete, Argao and Alcoy in Cebu Province, and Polillo Group of Islands have taken this direction.
There are also LGUs which have implemented biodiversity conservation through critical habitat establishment following the Wildlife Act. Examples of these are Mangatarem LGU in Pangasinan and Lambunao LGU in Iloilo. Furthermore, it is interesting that collaboration among PA Management Boards and LGUs have found areas of complementation such that LGUs have increasingly invested in executing PA Management Plan implementation activities. The Provincial Government of Agusan del Sur and San Isidro LGU in Davao Oriental have facilitated this approach for Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary and Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, respectively. Public-private partnership, on the other hand, is being tapped as one strategy for mobilization of additional resources and more responsible biodiversity resource use of beneficiaries in the area. San Teodoro in Oriental Mindoro has featured these management arrangements. Bayombong LGU in Nueva Vizcaya, on the other hand, has pilot-tested positive impacts of clear property rights system through co-management and individual property rights (IPR) system.
This Conference is envisaged to result in more LGUs investing in biodiversity conservation programs. It envisions a stronger policy support, incentive system and clear management arrangements.
The Conference also demonstrated that LCA efforts in coastal and marine areas are already more advanced compared to those in the terrestrial areas. Benefits of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in terms of increased fisheries stock in Hinunangan (Southern Leyte) and Sagay Marine Reserve as well as management of coastal habitats, e.g., mangroves, in marine KBAs like Sibugeuy Bay, cost-effectiveness through creation inter-LGU Coastal Resource Management (CRM) alliances in Macajalar Bay and Central Negros, evident impacts of ridge to reef approach in Sipalay City through terrestrial LCAs and MPAs and improved community benefits through ecotourism promotion such as that in Mt. Tapulao, Zambales are being reaped as LGUs sustain their biodiversity conservation efforts.
The Conference featured resource mobilization as one area that needs to be given attention to ensure sustainability of efforts initiated. Over the years, participation of LGUs in financing biodiversity conservation has increased. Alaminos City has been managing the fund for Hundred Islands National Park in Pangasinan while Puerto Princesa City has been playing the same role for Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR). Private sector participation in biodiversity conservation for improved forest management is also an emerging trend gaining support. This is the case of Bulusan Volcano Natural Park in Sorsogon and Wao in Lanao del Sur. Provision of support to communities is also becoming strong. A success story is the case of Mt. Kalatungan Range Natural Park in Bukidnon Province where conservation efforts of Talaandig tribe have been given private sector support. In Sta. Teresita, Cagayan, a biodiversity-friendly enterprise has been introduced for economic support of local people.
This Conference is envisaged to result in more LGUs investing in biodiversity conservation programs. It envisions a stronger policy support, incentive system and clear management arrangements. With examples of benefits from LCAs shared by LGUs leading the way, more LGUs are expected to strengthen sustainable development efforts.
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