Over 200 local government units (LGUs) identified as “Key Biodiversity Areas” in the Philippines attended the 2014 National Conference on Local Conservation Areas (LCA) held from October 23 to 24 at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria in Pasig City.
An annual event by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau’s (DENR-BMB), this year’s theme was “Diversifying an Strengthening Participatory and Local Governance in Biodiversity Conservation.” It featured terrestrial and coastal LGUs, which have pilot-tested establishment of LCAs within their territorial jurisdictions.
Besides the LGUs, various public and private agencies also participated at the LCA conference including the United Nations Development Program-Global Environmental Facility; New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project; GIZ supported Protected Area Management Enhancement (PAME) Project; Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation Inc.; and the Haribon Foundation.
A significant highlight of this LCA is the convergence among different national government agencies (NGAs), including the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Tourism and Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, all of which work together to promote biodiversity conservation in local environmental and development planning activities.
An LCA is an area, network of areas, or areas straddling adjacent local governments usually located within KBAs but outside of protected areas proclaimed under National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act. It is established mainly for conservation purposes through local ordinances implemented by LGUs. It can also refer to critical habitats managed by LGUs under the Wildlife Act.
During the conference, different LCA approaches, and on-site examples on how LGUs established their local conservation areas were presented such as the passage of a local ordinance similar to the case of Bud Bongao, in Tawi-Tawi. Other local governments have opted to go into inter-LGU alliance. Applicable to several LGUs, they can collaborate in maintaining inter-connectivity of habitats and wildlife resources. Dalaguete, Argao and Alcoy in Cebu Province, and Polillo Group of Islands have taken this direction.
There are also local governments that have implemented biodiversity conservation through critical habitat establishment following the Wildlife Act. Examples of these are Mangatarem LGU in Pangasinan and Lambunao LGU in Iloilo.
The provincial government of Agusan del Sur and San Isidro LGU in Davao Oriental have facilitated this approach for Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary and Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, respectively.
Public-private partnership, meanwhile, is being tapped as one strategy for mobilization of additional resources and more responsible biodiversity resource use of beneficiaries in the area. San Teodoro in Oriental Mindoro has featured these management arrangements. For Bayombong LGU in Nueva Vizcaya, the pilot-tested positive impacts of clear property rights system through co-management and individual property rights (IPR) system.
The conference also demonstrated that LCA efforts in coastal and marine areas are already more advance compared to those in the terrestrial areas. Benefits of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in terms of increased fisheries stock in Hinunangan, in Southern Leyte and Sagay Marine Reserve, as well as management of coastal habitats, e.g., mangroves, in marine KBAs like Sibugeuy Bay; cost-effectiveness through creation inter-LGU Coastal Resource Management (CRM) alliances in Macajalar Bay and Central Negros; evident impacts of ridge to reef approach in Sipalay City through terrestrial LCAs; and MPAs and improved community benefits through ecotourism promotion such as that in Mt. Tapulao, Zambales are being reaped as LGUs sustain their biodiversity conservation efforts.
The gathering highlighted resource mobilization for areas that need to be given attention for sustainability. Over the years, participation of LGUs in financing biodiversity conservation has increased.
Alaminos City has been managing the fund for Hundred Islands National Park in Pangasinan while Puerto Princesa City has been playing the same role for Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR). Private sector participation in biodiversity conservation for improved forest management is also an emerging trend gaining support. This is the case of Bulusan Volcano Natural Park in Sorsogon and Wao in Lanao del Sur. Provision of support to communities is also becoming strong. A success story is the case of Mt. Kalatungan Range Natural Park in Bukidnon Province where conservation efforts of Talaandig tribe have been given private sector support. In Sta. Teresita, Cagayan, a biodiversity-friendly enterprise has been introduced for economic support of local people.
This national conference aims to have more LGUs who investing in biodiversity conservation programs. It envisions a stronger policy support, incentive system and clear management arrangements.