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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—through its Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB)—has partnered with digital services provider PLDT Inc. (PLDT) and its wireless unit Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) to help raise awareness on peatlands in the Caraga region.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said peatlands are vital for providing safe drinking water, assist in preserving global biodiversity, and help reduce flood risks.

“Peatlands are dubbed as ‘one of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth’ according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN because apart from all these uses, they also help mitigate climate change and global warming,” Cimatu said.

Peatlands are a type of wetlands whose peat soils consist of carbon-rich dead and decaying plant matter. If kept wet, peatlands can store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests combined. However, its crucial role in mitigating climate change, as well as the huge costs that arise when these natural carbon sinks are damaged, remains largely overlooked.

The DENR and PLDT-Smart will present the conservation program on peatlands in a web activity that will be held on November 6, 2020 to kick off the Climate Change Consciousness Week in the latter part of the month. Peatlands to be featured in the conservation program will include the Caimpugan Peatland in the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS).

Located in Agusan del Sur, the Caimpugan Peatland holds the only recorded remaining intact peat swamp forest—the largest of its kind—in the Philippines.

PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan will be the guest of honor for the virtual event.

Ramsar Convention Secretary General Martha Rojas-Urrego will also have a special participation because the AMWS is designated as a Wetland of International Importance by the said inter-governmental treaty on wetlands.

AMWS is also recognized as a Heritage Park by the ASEAN and legislated as a National Park by the Philippine government.

In July 2020, the DENR thru Assistant Secretary for Climate Change and concurrent Director of BMB Ricardo Calderon and DENR-Caraga Regional Executive Director Hadja Didaw Piang-Brahim signed a memorandum of agreement with PLDT Group Chief Sustainability Officer Chaye Cabal-Revilla, who is also the concurrent PLDT SVP & Group Controller and Smart Chief Finance Officer.

 

The three-year extendable project to be implemented by PLDT-Smart through its Chief Sustainability Office until 2023 aims to strengthen and support the AMWS-Protected Area Management Office and other concerned DENR offices in implementing peatland conservation and management strategies under the AMWS Management Plan. #