A top ranking official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said that communication plays a critical role in the protection and conservation of the country’s biodiversity in a forum held Wednesday (May 22) in celebration of the International Day for Biodiversity (IDBD).

DENR Undersecretary Manuel Gerochi said that the interaction among key stakeholders would encourage them to participate in government programs and activities that promote the sustainable management of the marine environment and biodiversity.

He cited as an example the marine biodiversity forum as a “good venue to orient various sectors and stakeholders matters concerning coastal and marine resources conservation’. He also added that the reason behind the proclamation of May 22 as IDBD by the United Nations is “to increase the awareness and understanding of the people on issues affecting biodiversity”.

Gerochi also stressed the importance of knowledge in finding solutions to the continuing threats facing the country’s coastal environment like destructive fishing methods.

He also reminded the participants to the forum that include barangay officials of various government units in Metro Manila, representatives from government agencies, and non-government organizations such as Haribon Foundation, Save the Philippine Seas, among others, of the benefits derived from coastal areas.

“Our coastal areas have not failed us in providing goods such as fish, oil, gas, mineral salts and construction materials but also services such as transportation and recreation,” Gerochi said.

Meanwhile, University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute Professor Dr. Porferio Alino, underscored the biodiversity richness of the country in his presentation during the forum held at DENR office in Quezon City, also as part of the observance of May as Month of the Ocean in the country.

“The richness in biodiversity in the country is five to ten times over as compared to the biodiversity richness of other countries. This bountiful species is affording the country considerable benefits like a square-kilometer of coral reef can, in turn, feed hundreds of people a year,” he said.

But he lamented the considerable decline in the country’s coastal and marine resources in past years due to over-exploitation, resulting from the increase in the country’s population density.

Alino also cited the case of the Visayas Region and the Sulu Sea as among those worst hit by overexploitation in the past decades. Although their condition now, he said, have shifted due to considerable number of conservation efforts being done there.

He also expressed optimism that the deterioration of the marine environment, particularly of the Visayas Region and the Sulu Sea, including their vulnerability to erosion can be abated if regulation to overfishing and measures against climate change are put in place.