Philippines to host second leg of ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes Regional Forum

To further increase public awareness on the values and conservation of biodiversity, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) will hold the second leg of the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes Regional Forum in Manila, Philippines on 4 and 5 September 2018.
With support from the European Union and in collaboration with the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-BMB), the second leg of the forum will be conducted at DusitThaniHotel in Makati City, Philippines.

The event will feature the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes from Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, wherein they will share their stories of conservation with students from various academic institutions in the Philippines, young professionals from different sectors, representatives from the media, participants from the ASEAN Member States, non-government organisations, and government agencies, among others. Sharing of the heroes’ stories is aimed to inspire others, especially the youth in saving the environment and forother sectors in the societyto emulate inspiration on how they can also help in biodiversity conservation.

Featured ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes

Mr. Sophea Chinn is a young biodiversity information specialist who sparked interest in wildlife research in Cambodia. SopheaChhin recalled that his interest in wildlife research was further enhanced when, as a young boy in the 1990s, he observed that numerous birds were being killed for food by the people in his community. He took up Biology at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, followed by Management Information System at SETEC University, and a Master’s degree in Biodiversity Conservation.Currently, the young conservationist is a government official at the Research and Biodiversity & Ecosystem Assessment Office, a core component of the Department of Biodiversity in Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment.

An Indigenous Leader, Mr. Alex Waisimon from Indonesia, protects Papua’s forest for future generations. Papua province is known for its dense rainforests that are home to diverse wildlife. The provincial capital, Jayapura, is where the RhepangMuaif Area can be found. This area is categorised as an Important Bird Area as it is the haven of five endangered species, and is also known as the home of the Cenderawasih, or the birds of paradise.Sadly, due to these natural endowments, the area has the same concerns as other biodiversity-rich places: illegal hunting and illegal logging. It is due to these concerns that Mr. Waisimon returned, along with the noble vision to provide livelihood in his community. With this objective, he developed a sustainable ecotourism program that features the birds of paradise.

Declared a National Scientist by President Benigno S. Aquino III through Malacañang Proclamation No. 782 dated 6 June 2014, Dr. Angel C. Alcala is an educator and a marine biologist with remarkable contributions to Philippine biological sciences. Through his research and fieldwork, Dr. Alcala has added 50 new species of amphibians and reptiles, which provided international conservationists basis for establishing conservation programs on Philippine vertebrate biodiversity.The National Scientist was the person behind the establishment of the Philippines’ first no-take marine reserve, the Sumilon Marine Reserve. Such marine reserves allow the growth of marine biodiversity such as various fish species as well as movement of adult fish to fishing areas, which increases the fish yields of fishers. After the establishment of the Sumilon Marine Reserve in 1974, Dr. Alcala proceeded to establish several other no-take marine reserves such as the Apo Marine Reserve in 1982. He also strengthened the management of approximately 60 no-take marine reserves.

Heroes for Biological Resources Conservation

Recognised during the 50th Anniversary of the ASEAN on 8 August 2017 in Manila, Philippines, the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes are 10 outstanding individuals who were chosen for their notable actions in biodiversity conservation. The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes 2017 are the following: (1) EyadSamhan of Brunei Darussalam; (2) Sophea Chinn of Cambodia; (3) Alex Waisimon of Indonesia; (4) NitsavanhLouangkhotPravongviengkham of Lao PDR; (5) Prof. Zakri Abdul Hamid of Malaysia; (6) Dr. MaungMaung Kyi of Myanmar; (7) Dr. Angel C. Alcala of the Philippines; (8) Prof. Leo Tan Wee Hin of Singapore; (9) Dr. NonnPanitvong of Thailand; and (10) Prof. Dr. Dang Huy Huynh of Viet Nam. The ACB serves as the Secretariat of the Search for the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes and the Heroes were selected by the ACB Governing Board, representing the ASEAN Member States (AMS).

The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes Regional Forum Series is part of the “Biodiversity Conservation and Management or Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP)”, a project that is implemented by the ACB in collaboration with the European Union. The project seeks to improve the management of protected areas in the ASEAN region; develop and mobilize knowledge and scientific basis for biodiversity conservation; mainstream biodiversity into the education system; and strengthen the regional capacities. 


DENR stands pat on STP requirement

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) stands pat on its decision requiring establishments in Boracay to put up sewerage treatment plants (STPs), either individually or in cluster, to ensure that all wastewater have undergone appropriate treatment prior to their discharge into the sea.

“The President described Boracay as a ‘cesspool’. By that word alone, he meant that the waters around the island is of very poor quality. And, indeed, it was. The concentration of e-coliform in the water samples that were put to test in the early part of our rehabilitation efforts were too high – millions of times beyond the standard,” DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.

Cimatu said that while he acknowledged the initiative of the local government in coming up with ordinance requiring STPs before, such ordinance had not been faithfully enforced. “This time, the Boracay Interagency Task Force (BIATF) will make sure that the STP requirement shall be enforced fully,” Cimatu added.

“The President’s order has always been to give premium to the environment rather than to economic gains. Therefore, the STP is non-negotiable. It is one of the primary requirements for the opening of Boracay,” Cimatu stressed.

Commenting on the issues raised by certain quarters that the construction of STPs is “expensive”, the DENR chief, who also sits as chair of the BIATF, said there are government financial institutions that are willing to assist, such as the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Cimatu expressed appreciation for the support and cooperation shown by some establishments that have already put up or in the process of putting up their STPs, as well as to those who have come forward to help in the rehabilitation of the various wetlands in Boracay.

Two weeks ago, Cimatu had inked “adoption” agreements with two companies, Energy Development Corporation and Aboitiz, for the rehabilitation of Wetlands No. 2 and 4. Earlier, the Boracay Tubi System, Inc. has volunteered to adopt Wetland No. 6.

Along this line, Cimatu is appealing to other sectors to help in the rehabilitation of Boracay’s ecosystems as part of their corporate social responsibility.

“The ‘economic’ side of Boracay has been ‘gained’ by the business sector operating on the island for the past decades. This time around, give back to the environment, and give back to the next generations of Filipinos from whom we have borrowed Boracay’s splendor.” ###

Reference: Undersecretary Benny Antiporda


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