DENR-BMB leads back-to-back conferences on local biodiversity conservation

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through its Biodiversity Management Bureau, will hold back-to-back conferences aimed at empowering indigenous peoples (IPs) and local communities in conserving the country’s rich biological diversity.

Both the 2nd National ICCA Conference scheduled on October 21-22 and the National Conference on Local Conservation Areas (LCAs) set on October 23-24 will be held at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria in Pasig City. ICCA stands for Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Conserved Areas.

The two meetings are organized by the BMB, together with the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation, Inc., the Protected Area Management Enhancement Project of the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ), and the New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project.

BMB Director Mundita Lim said the twin conferences recognize the important role of IPs and local communities in biodiversity protection and preservation.

The meetings, she added, would likewise help ensure full and just participation of indigenous peoples in all conservation activities.

“The conferences would highlight the need to conserve not only our natural resources especially within ancestral domains, but also the traditional and age-old practices of IPs that are worth emulating or replicating because they demonstrate a deep regard or respect for Mother Nature and what she has to offer,” Lim said.

The conference on ICCA, with a theme, “Pagpapalakas sa Tradisyunal na Pamamahala ng Lupaing Ninuno at Pangangalaga ng Samu’t Saring Buhay,” will bring together some 250 participants, including IP leaders from major island and ethno-linguistic groups, support organizations, government agencies, the academe, private sector and other entities supporting ICCAs.

Among those invited to deliver their messages are Chairperson Leonor Oralde-Quintayo of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr., representing Congress.

ICCAs are territories that have been voluntarily conserved by IPs and local communities through effective means such as customary laws or traditional practices. These territories may be sacred spaces or ritual grounds, indigenous territories and cultural land and seascapes, wetlands and fishing grounds, migration routes of mobile IPs, among others.

The LCA conference, on the other hand, will feature local initiatives and experiences of selected local government units (LGUs) in environmental protection, particularly biodiversity conservation, with the theme: “Diversifying and Strengthening Participatory Governance in Biodiversity Conservation.”

Some 200 participants are expected for the conference, which is open to all LGUs as Secretary Mar Roxas of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) had earlier issued a nationwide invitation to all LGUs. 

“The conference would hopefully inspire other LGUs as we pay tribute to progressive ones who have, with or without national government support, exercised good governance and successfully managed their resources, after recognizing the link between healthy ecosystems and local economic progress,” Lim said.

She added that participating LGUs can learn from the conference how to implement projects within their areas of jurisdiction, in compliance with the proposal of biodiversity conservation as a criterion for earning the DILG Seal of Good Governance.

Conference speakers include Senate environment committee chair Sen. Loren Legarda, and representatives from the DILG, Department of Tourism, Department of Agriculture and the University of the Philippines.

Select LGU officials are also expected to discuss various topics during thematic workshops on emerging LCA approaches and models, achieving conservation benefits and sustainable financing.

LCAs are areas designated by LGUs for protection purposes, usually through local ordinances. These may be identified as habitats of unique or threatened species; natural ecosystems ideal for ecotourism purposes; areas highly vulnerable to natural hazards such as erosion or landslides; headwaters of local water districts; and remaining closed and regenerating natural forests.

The conferences’ co-convenors include the NCIP, Foundation for Philippine Environment, Philippine Association for Intercultural Development, the Bukluran ng mga Katutubo para sa Pangangalaga ng Kalikasan ng Pilipinas, and the Koalisyon ng Katutubong Samahan ng Pilipinas for the ICCA Conference; and the DILG, the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, DOT and Haribon Foundation for the LCA Conference.#  



Trust fund established for protected areas

Efforts to reverse rapid biodiversity loss in the country got a major boost with the signing of a joint circular by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) retaining a substantial portion of revenues generated by protected areas (PAs) to finance development activities.

“This is certainly a new milestone in the country’s protected area management. At the same time, it is a big boost to our efforts of promoting ecotourism in the country as it allows us to reinvest some 75% of all revenues generated by a protected area to activities deemed necessary to protect and rehabilitate the PAs,” DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said on signing the joint circular with Budget Secretary Florencio C. Abad.

The two officials signed the joint memorandum circular (JMC) or the implementing guidelines of Republic Act No. 10629 which provided for the retention and use of the 75 percent of Integrated Protected Area Fund (IPAF) by Protected Area Management Boards (PAMBs).

IPAF is a trust fund established under Republic Act No. 7586, or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act, as amended by RA 10629. It is comprised of all earnings generated from operating a PA. This include taxes from the permitted sale and export of flora and fauna and other resources from protected areas, proceeds from lease of multiple-use areas, contributions from industries and facilities directly benefitting from the protected areas, and such other fees and other incomes derived from the operation of the protected area like entrance fees and from ecotourism activities.

Under the joint DENR-DBM circular, PAMBs will now remit only 25 percent of the IPAF to the National Treasury. It will be placed in the Special Account in the General Fund, along with revenues remitted by the PAs prior to the effectivity of the guidelines.

Revenues from other sources shall be deposited with the National Treasury as trust receipts in an account separate from revenues generated from operational activities.

Paje said the retained amount, which will be called the IPAF Retention Income Account, would help PAMBs improve their financing flows.

“The joint circular allows PAMB to immediately utilize their share of the IPAF without having to go through the National Treasury,” Paje explained.

The JMC provides steps and procedures in the collection and deposit, disbursement, accounting and auditing, and reporting mechanisms to ensure the systematic, transparent and accountable management of the retained earnings by the respective PA office.

The retained earnings can only be used to fund implementation activities specified under a Protected Area Management Plan and should be approved by the PAMB. The fund, however, excludes personnel service expenditures.

With the circular, Paje said the PAs will have the incentive to increase their user fees, and development and strengthen innovative financing mechanisms since they can now use available resources whenever needed.

This development, he said, will hopefully encourage other donors to contribute to PA development, subject to the approval of the PAMB and in accordance with the approved PA management plan.

The joint circular was a product of collaborative efforts among the DENR, DBM, United Nations Development Programme-Global Environment Facility New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project (NewCAPP), and the United States Agency for International Development/DENR Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) Program.

There are a total of 240 PAs – ranging from large natural parks, to landscapes, to wildlife and marine life sanctuaries – recognized under the NIPAS covering 5.45 million hectares or more than 18 percent of the country’s total land area.

PAs are established for conservation and management of the “last remaining representatives” of Philippine habitats and ecosystems. ## 


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