PH bats for greater protection for migratory species in ecotourism sites

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the Philippines will push for major initiatives aimed at harnessing ecotourism as a tool for conservation of migratory species and their habitats when the country hosts next month the world's largest wildlife conference this year.

"The Philippines, as an important host to a number of migratory species in its coastal, marine, wetland and forest ecosystems, will prove to the rest of the world that human development should not be at the cost of our natural resources and the ecosystem services that they provide," Cimatu said.

Cimatu made the statement as he announced that the country has already submitted its draft "Resolution on Sustainable Tourism and Migratory Species" to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in time for the 12th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, or more commonly abbreviated as Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), to be held in Manila from October 23 to 28.

"The resolution aims to bring forth how wildlife interaction in tourism affects migratory species and how tourism activities should be managed to ensure that these do not negatively impact the said species," Cimatu said.

By hosting the CMS event, Cimatu said the Philippines will have the opportunity to share its experiences in terms of migratory species conservation for other countries to follow.

"Global resources are shared resources. As a global resource, the preservation of migratory species should be a collective responsibility of all nations," Cimatu pointed out.

Migratory species that pass by the Philippines on different times of the year contribute as wildlife tourist attractions and have led to the rise in ecotourism.

These species include the whale shark or butanding that migrates to Legazpi City in Albay province, Donsol town in Sorsogon and Oslob town in Cebu; the sea cow or dugong that frequents the town of Busuanga in Palawan and Mati City in Davao Oriental; and marine turtle or pawikan that visits the provinces of Bataan, Palawan and Tawi-Tawi.

As part of the East Asian-Austrasian Migratory Flyway, the Philippines also hosts a number of migratory birds in protected areas like the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecosystem Area, Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro, and the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu.

Cimatu said the proposed resolution aims to regulate ecotourism areas frequented by migratory species and ensure that their natural migration patterns, habitats, population are not distorted or harmed.

"It is important for the Philippines and all countries that are parties to the CMS to maintain migratory sites as viable habitats so that these species will continue to come back," Cimatu said.

He added: "We can do tourism using biodiversity, but we have to preserve it. There should be a balance between man and nature in pursuit of economic development."

The environment chief expressed hope the CMS party states will adopt the resolution.

"The resolution comes at a time when migratory species are exposed to a growing number of threats, which have led to the decline in their population," Cimatu said. "We are determined to ensure that ecotourism protects these species and their habitats at all costs."

The CMS meeting will help participants grasp the importance and tools of the convention, which serves as a platform to strengthen transboundary conservation efforts for migratory animals worldwide.

The Philippines and other countries will have the opportunity to share information and experiences with other states sharing the same migratory species, also with a view to achieving biodiversity targets as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The event will mark the first time the CMS conference is held in Asia since the international treaty was adopted in Bonn, Germany in 1979 and came into force in 1985. ### 


P30-M worth of hot logs seized from QC warehouse

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has confiscated more than 70,000 board feet of undocumented wood products with an estimated value of P30 million from a warehouse in Bgy. Bagbag, Novaliches, Quezon City.

This came after the combined operatives of the DENR-National Capital Region Enforcement Division and the National Bureau of Investigation’s Environmental Crime Division raided the warehouse on Wednesday, following weeks of surveillance and issuance of a search warrant by Judge Roslyn M. Rabara-Tria of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, Branch 94.

During the raid, the search team found various undocumented forest products, such as narra, lauan, kamagong, bolongeta, and dao, with a total volume of 71, 272.30 board feet as well as machineries and equipment used in connection with the said products.

According to Orly T. Cariazo of the DENR-NCR Enforcement Division, the confiscated wood products are considered premium species.

“The estimated value of these products, in their current form of tabla or flitches is around P30 million. This can triple once processed and converted into finished products,” Cariazo said.

The owner of the warehouse, who was not present at the time of the raid, will be charged with violation of Section 77 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines, which prohibits the cutting, gathering and collecting of timber or other forest products without license.

Since the flitches are of premium species, the owner will also be charged with violation of Executive Order No. 23 issued on February 2011, which imposes a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests of the entire country.

The raid was carried out in compliance with the directive of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu to intensify the government’s campaign against illegal logging and timber smuggling for the protection of the country’s forests.

“Forest protection is a priority of this administration. The DENR will continue to work with other government agencies to ensure that we save our remaining forests and penalize those found violating our environmental laws,” Cimatu said.

The DENR will subject the seized wood products, machineries and equipment to administrative adjudication or proceedings, in accordance with Department Administrative Order No. 97-32.

The NBI, on the other hand, will lodge a criminal complaint for qualified theft against the warehouse owner based on PD 705, citing Article 309 (Penalties) and 310 (Qualified Theft) of the Revised Penal Code. ### 


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