Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna vowed to push the proclamation of the Year of the Protected Areas (YoPA) in celebration of the 90th year of the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 3915 that formally established the national parks system in the country.

“I pledge to do my best to have the proposed presidential proclamation declaring the year of the Protected Areas and June of each year as Month of the Protected Areas approved,” Sampulna said during the signing of a joint declaration with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) during the YoPA campaign launch on May 23, 2022.

The DENR has been working on the proposed presidential proclamation since 2019. Once approved, it will institutionalize the annual celebration that will significantly contribute to public information and education about the country’s protected areas.

It will also enjoin other government agencies, such as DOT and DILG, to organize activities in support of the annual celebration and mainstream biodiversity and protected areas in their regular programs to mobilize collective action in protecting and conserving protected areas.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte recently signed into law RA 11684 or the Mt. Arayat Protected Landscape Act; RA 11685 or the Mt. Pulag Protected Landscape Act; RA 11668 or the Naga-Kabasalan Protected Landscape Act; RA 11687 or the Tirad Pass Protected Landscape Act; and RA 11688 or the Banao Protected Landscape Act – bringing the number of legislated protected areas in the country to 112.

“The DENR will continue to persevere and work with partner agencies and communities as we see the importance of the YoPA campaign in ensuring that our protected areas are known and protected by and for the Filipino people,” Sampulna said.

Protected areas, as defined in RA 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Act of 2018, refer to “identified portions of land and/or water set aside by reason of their unique physical and biological significance, managed to enhance biological diversity and protected against human exploitation.”

Protected areas, through their numerous ecosystems services or benefits, serve as our life support system. ###