DENR Bicol proposes expansion of Catanduanes Natural Parkpr6

What could be smallest now in terms of land area as a province may turn out to be the biggest protected area in the entire Region as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) seeks to expand the Catanduanes  Watershed Forest Reserve (CWFR) from 26,000 hectares (ha) to 48,831 ha.

The National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) and DENR V Land Evaluation Party in their recent field validation  found CWFR suitable for proclamation under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) owed to its old growth forest consisting mostly of Dipterocarp or hardwood species. It also covers 10 municipalities including Bagamanoc, Baras, Caramoran, Gigmoto, Pandan, Panganiban, San Andres, San Miguel, Viga, and Virac. The watershed forest reserve has potable water that support domestic and agricultural uses and could supply sufficient water for energy generation. It also harbors important plant and animal species in habitats fit for recreation and adventure.

But while the area offers opportunities for growth, it is also beset with challenges such as timber poaching, slash-and burn farming, changing land use, siltation, wildlife poaching, among others. These are the same reasons why the government sets aside areas for protection to secure resources required by present and future generations of humans.To expand the reserve would mean greater protection of the reserve and the wildlife plant and animal species  present in the area. It will also promote reproduction among endangered animal species since their range or areas frequented becomes larger making possible reproduction, larger area to hunt for food and improve the natural ecosystems functioning since these processes recognize no political boundaries. As bigger areas get protection from poachers, for instance, the adjacent towns are expected to afford the area the same level of protection hence, the species have greater chances for survival against natural calamities and human intrusion.

The CWFR is a protected area by virtue of Proclamation No. 123 dated June 23, 1987. Penalties apply to those who commit prohibited acts including hunting, destroying, disturbing or mere possession of any plants or animals or products derived therefrom without permit from the Management Board.

Press Release: May 14, 2015

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STATEMENT OF DENR SECRETARY GINA LOPEZ ON THE PROPOSED UNDERWATER THEME PARK IN CORON, PALAWAN

“If the underwater theme park would cause the destruction of corals, right away, I will say no way. The fishermen need corals. The corals are the home for the fish, and some of our corals have shells and sponges that can cure cancer. I will never allow our biodiversity to be killed for money that some people want to make.

The Philippines is a country of seven thousand islands, which has the highest endemism per unit area in the entire world, while Palawan is the number one island destination in the planet. It has rich biodiversity and lots of ecotourism potentials that should be primarily tapped by the Filipino people for the Filipino people.

In any case, whatever decision that the DENR will make shall be filtered and anchored on social justice, which means that the marine resources of Palawan should benefit the greater majority.”###

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