Paje tells public to keep it ‘green’ this holiday season

Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje is encouraging the public to have a “green” Christmas by properly managing their waste during the season when most households produce more trash than usual.

“Christmas does not have to be a burden on the environment. There are a number of ways we can do in order to help reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season, including practicing the 3Rs of waste management – reduce, reuse and recycle,” Paje said.

The environment chief noted that Filipinos, who are known to celebrate the longest Christmas season in the world, generate more waste during the holidays than at any other time of the year.

Thus, he said, it is only necessary for the public to be more conscious of the waste they generate and to observe environmentally-responsible Yuletide habits.

Since the bulk of holiday waste comes from gift wrapping and packaging materials, Paje suggested using newspapers, gift bags and other alternatives to traditional wrapping paper that can be reused, recycled or composted, and does not end up in the landfill.

Paje said people could consider alternatives to sending traditional Christmas cards like e-cards or making a donation to charity instead.

They could also buy gifts made from recycled materials as well as toys that do not use batteries, which eventually end up as waste, he added.

He said seedlings and plants would make great gifts to send this holiday season.

At the same time, he urged the public to patronize locally made products for use as gifts as the process used to make them come from shorter supply chain, which translates to lower carbon footprint.

He also suggested the use of energy-efficient LED as Christmas lights.

“These are just some of the positive things we can do to make Christmas greener,” Paje pointed out. “A Green Christmas is a step towards redeeming the environment, and saving humanity and biodiversity from man-made environmental abuses and their consequences, which now can be summed up in the crisis that is climate change.” # 


PH initiatives to protect Sulu-Sulawesi seascape gets boost from Germany

Germany has pledged financial support to the Philippines’ conservation initiatives within the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion (SSME), according to Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Paje said a memorandum of understanding was signed on December 10 between the DENR and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), on behalf of Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, in connection with the grant.

The German government, through the GIZ, has put up a seven million-euro special fund to support the implementation of protection and conservation initiatives within the SSME. According to the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau, the country will initially get 450,000 euro from the fund.

“The grant will help sustain conservation projects that aim to protect threatened species and habitats within the SSME, as well as the livelihoods of people who depend on them,” Paje said.

The environment chief added that the funding support will also reinforce the country’s capacity to implement the SSME Comprehensive Action Plan, a five-year blueprint which implementation started in 2012 to ensure the sustainability of fisheries production and marine conservation efforts within the protected seascape.

SSME, an area of about 900,000 square kilometers of aquatic resources, ranks among the most diverse and productive marine systems in the world, and lies at the apex of the Coral Triangle. A large portion of the marine ecosystem is located in the midst of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The seascape is characterized by a tropical climate, tepid waters, and complex and wide-ranging biophysical characteristics and oceanography that contribute to its exceptionally abundant marine biodiversity. It, however, has porous borders acting like a magnet to threats of piracy and illegal fishing, which contribute considerably to its environmental degradation.

Paje said the new pact between the DENR and GIZ “highlights the confidence that other governments have in the Philippines, particularly in our effort to protect and conserve our coastal and marine resources.”

Under the MOU, the German government committed to provide funding support to the DENR for the implementation of various initiatives on marine protected areas (MPAs) within the SSME.

The funds will be used primarily for the establishment of a network-like coordination mechanism among the three SSME states for the Sea Turtle Marine Protected Area Network (ST-MPAN) in order to consolidate cooperation in protecting sea turtles and their habitats.

DENR Undersecretary Annaliza Teh, who signed the MOU on behalf of the department, said government effort to establish more MPAs in the country has gained leverage from the deal.

“Developing a marine protected area to safeguard marine turtles and their habitats is important in implementing an ecosystem approach to fisheries management,” she pointed out.

Four of the 11 important MPAs cited in the MOU as part of the ST-MPAN are in the Philippines, namely: the El Nido Marine Protected Area, the Tubatahha Reefs Natural Parks, and the Balabac Marine Conservation Area in Palawan; and the Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary in Tawi-Tawi.

SSME is among the 200 most critical ecoregions in the world. Studies show that around 40 million people are directly dependent on the region’s marine resources for their economic stability, especially food. Its marine biodiversity includes over 3,000 species of fish, more than 400 species of corals, 400 species of algae, 16 species of seagrass and five of the seven species of marine turtles.

As part of the 640-million hectare Coral Triangle region, SSME’s coral reef ecosystem is said to be a hub of life support for fisheries and provides a potential fish yield of around 675,380 metric tons annually. ###


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