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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, July 18, 2016
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with ERROL A. GATUMBATO
OPINIONS

1st NIR protected areas confab set

In what could be an attempt to further strengthen biodiversity conservation in Negros, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources–Negros Island Region is organizing the 1st NIR protected areas summit this coming July 28-30 in Bacolod City.

DENR-NIR regional director Al Orolfo said the confab would gather protected area practitioners to share experiences on PA management in Negros Island.

There are six major PAs under the National Integrated Protected Areas System in Negros – Mount Kanla-on, Northern Negros and Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Parks, Sagay Marine Reserve, Apo Island Protected Landscape and Seascape, and Tañon Strait Protected Seascape. These PAs contain remaining natural ecosystems that are serving as habitats to assorted species of endemic flora and fauna and provide numerous ecosystem services.

Invited to grace the opening of the summit are DENR Secretary Regina Paz Lopez, DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations Joselin Marcus Fragada, Biodiversity Management Bureau director Theresa Mundita Lim, DENR Region 7 director Isabelo Montejo, and Dani Newcomb of the United States Agency for International Development. Governors Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Roel Degamo, of Negros Occidental and Oriental, respectively, are expected to give messages at the opening ceremonies.

During this gathering, thematic concerns on PA management shall be presented and discussed in plenary and breakout sessions. Thematic session 1 will take up governance of PAs, which will include presentations on the roles of the DENR, local government units and other stakeholders in PA management, the integrated PA fund, and the status of the proposed expanded NIPAS bill. Mayor Alfredo Marañon III of Sagay will share on the power and authority of the LGU in managing a PA, as exemplified by the Sagay Marine Reserve.

Two case studies about the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape will be presented in the conference - as a large protected area and as a marine key biodiversity area. Prospero Lendio, the Protected Area Superintendent of the TSPS, shall present the first topic, and Adonis Sucalit, senior director for Operations of the RARE Inc., will be the discussant for the second subject.

The thematic session 2 of the summit is on biodiversity conservation strategies . Lisa Marie Paguntalan, executive director of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc., will present on the role of PAs in the conservation of endemic species, while Jose Regunay, project manager of the DENR's Biodiversity Partnerships Project, is expected to talk on biodiversity friendly investments in PAs.

Environment planner Leonora Gonzales was invited to deliver a talk on urban biodiversity, particularly on integrating biodiversity conservation into the comprehensive land use plan of LGUs. Allan Barcena of the Energy Development Corporation will present his company's experiences on public-private partnership on biodiversity conservation.

The summit's thematic session 3 is on PA law enforcement mechanisms. The B+WISER Program will present its Landscape and Wildlife Indicators, Forest and Biodiversity Protection System, and Fel Ceasar Cadiz, director for Project Implementation of the RARE Inc. will share his organization's experience on the knowledge, attitude, and practice survey in TSPS.

Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya, PASu of the MKNP and at the same time the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer of Bago City, will present the Kanla-on Green Brigade as a community-based effort in PA protection, and Negros Occidental Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Andre Untal will talk on the enforcement initiatives in the NNNP. Gloria Ramos, vice president of the OCEANA Philippines, will present about the campaign against commercial fishers within the TSPS.

Ecotourism and other financing mechanisms shall be taken up during the fourth thematic session of the summit. Vicente Mesias of the Bago City Environment and Natural Resources Office will present the payment for ecosystem services in Bago City. Celerino Baja Jr. , assistant PASu of the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes, will share their experiences on community based ecotourism development, while Efren Rumbaoa, PASu of the Apo Island, shall discuss the sustainable financial mechanism on this protected and landscape. Alicia Lustica, head of the Biodiversity, Coastal, Wetlands and Ecotourism Research Center in the Visayas, shall present the carrying capacity of protected areas based on study made in the MKNP.*


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