To mark the World Environment Day on June 5, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) launched a new partnership to help strengthen the protection, conservation and management of marine key biodiversity areas (KBAs) in the Philippines.
The Marine Key Biodiversity Areas (MKBA) Project, with P352 million ($8 million) funding from the Global Environment Facility, will be implemented in five sites: Verde Island Passage, Lanuza Bay, Davao Gulf, Southern Palawan, and Tanon Strait.
The Philippines ranks third in terms of marine biodiversity in the world, and hosts a total of 464 reef-building coral species or nearly half of all known coral species. The Philippine waters are estimated to harbor an estimated 10,000 species or approximately one fifth of all known species. The country’s marine waters are also widely regarded by marine biologists as the epicenter of marine biodiversity—having 123 key marine biodiversity areas.
“We all know, however, that these are at significant risk threatened by over exploitation and unsustainable practices,” said UNDP Philippines Country Director Titon Mitra at the launch. “The argument for conservation is not just about preserving natural beauty and diversity—the country’s biodiverse species also have significant income generating potential.”
“If biodiversity management becomes effective, it produces revenue, which in turn provides the financing for biodiversity management and then provides further impetus for enabling policies and practices for marine biodiversity. It can also provide for sustainable livelihoods for the coastal poor—encouraging them to conserve biodiversity,” Mitra said.
“Moreover, if the condition of the biodiversity of coastal ecosystems are improved and enhanced, their contribution to resilience building of coastal communities to the effects of anthropogenic and natural pressures like climate change is better and their ability to provide ecological goods is increased.”
The five-year MKBA project will assist in accelerating establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Marine Protected Area Networks (MPANs) to include more key marine biodiversity areas. The project will also help improve management effectiveness and financial sustainability of MPAs and MPANs and establish an enabling policy framework for marine biodiversity conservation.