As the world celebrates the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDBD) on May 22, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) renewed its call for unified efforts of every Filipino toward biodiversity protection and conservation despite the pandemic.

With the global slogan, "We're part of the solution," the DENR underscores both individual and community actions, regardless of roles in society, as key to save the Philippines' threatened biodiversity.

"For many years, our country has been recognized as one of the mega biodiverse countries in the world. Our location in the Coral Triangle makes us a part of the global center of marine biodiversity. But the Philippines is also one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots with our vast resources and endemic species threatened by human activity and habitat loss," said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

Cimatu pointed out the critical need to protect biodiversity citing its countless functions that include air purification, food and water security, source of livelihood, nature recreation, and reducing the risk of emerging infectious diseases.

"Biodiversity will be the foundation on which we can build back better once this pandemic is over," he said.

To drum up the days leading to IDBD, the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) has launched an online information campaign on key solutions to pressing environmental issues which the public can engage with and support.

"I urge everyone to live with less plastic to save our oceans from plastic pollution. Educate yourselves on wildlife laws and support the government’s campaign against illegal wildlife collection and trade," said Undersecretary for Special Concerns and DENR-BMB OIC Edilberto D. Leonardo.

Leonardo also called on the public to help stop the illegal wildlife trade by reporting illegal pet keepers and traders to the DENR.

Just recently, an illegal online wildlife trader of umbrella cockatoos and palm cockatoo was caught and charged for violation of Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

Cimatu has been warning the public that online illegal wildlife trade is being monitored vigilantly by the DENR.

To celebrate IDBD, the DENR-BMB will hold a free virtual event on May 21, a day ahead of the official IDBD. The program will be aired at 10 a.m. via its official Facebook page.

DENR-BMB officials will deliver messages for the IDBD celebration including a lecture on urban biodiversity to promote collective efforts in greening our cities.

There will also be a talk on visual storytelling featuring conservation photography.

This will be followed by the announcement of the winners of the BiodiverCity photo contest, and a mini-talk show that will feature the winners.

Cash prizes await the ten (10) consolation and three (3) grand prize winners selected from the 44 shortlisted entries out of nearly 200 photo entries submitted.

The contest aims to showcase urban biodiversity or biodiversity that exists in urban areas, such as urban agriculture, cultural sites, green and blue spaces, and green infrastructure.

Urban biodiversity benefits communities through better health, mitigation of the effects of climate change, and nature recreation.

The IDBD is a global celebration espoused by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to promote the conservation of biological diversity, which is considered the world’s life-support system. ###