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Information campaign intensified to boost LGUs' environmental protection

By Catherine J. Teves

MANILA, May 29 – Authorities are preparing to help boost capability of local government units (LGUs) and communities concerned as well as respective partners in managing pilot sites covered by the 2010-2015 New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project (NewCAPP) under Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB).

This week, they are spearheading in Metro Manila a three-day workshop designed to help NewCAPP personnel better carry out the information and education campaign (IEC) that is aimed at improving such target audiences' knowledge of conservation-related matters, empowering these parties to increasingly manage and protect the sites from climate change and other threats.

"We want to sharpen our IEC in support of activities there," NewCAPP project manager Floradema Eleazar said Tuesday on the workshop's side.

She noted that since much of what needs disseminating to LGUs, communities and the partners is scientific data on the environment, the IEC must be able to relay such information through messages these target audiences can understand.

Such understanding will help the target audiences better identify environmental protection initiatives for the areas, she added.

Authorities cited unsustainable resource extraction, mining, armed conflict, illegal logging, use of toxic chemicals in agriculture as among causes of environmental degradation.

One IEC challenge is how to present, in layman's language, scientific data on such causes and on other conservation matters, Eleazar noted.

The NewCAPP pilot project sites are Mt. Nacolod in Southern Leyte province; Zambales Mountains in Zambales, Tarlac and Pangasinan provinces; Mt. Iglit-Baco National Park in Mindoro Oriental and Occidental provinces; Mt. Nug-As and Lantoy in Cebu province; Tawi-tawi Island in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; Mt. Kalatungan in Bukidnon province; Banao Watershed in Kalinga province and Mountain Province; Mts. Irid-Anglo and Binuang in Rizal, Bulacan and Quezon provinces; Polillo Group of Islands in Quezon province as well as Mt. Hilong-hilong in Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur provinces.

NewCAPP aims strengthening capacity of indigenous peoples (IPs) communities as well as national and local governments in managing such sites.

LGUs are at the forefront of environmental protection so these must be prepared to spearhead conservation initiatives there after NewCAPP ends, Eleazar clarified.

"We want LGUs to lead conservation efforts," she said.

Discovery of new species in Mt. Nacolod, one of the NewCAPP sites, also raised the need for better conservation efforts.

Last month, PAWB reported discovering the existence of two non-poisonous frog species that are new to science.

The discovery was made during a biodiversity assessment study experts conducted in the area.

"Our country is so rich in natural resources so it's important for people to understand that elements in the environment are linked with one another and what happens to one will affect the others," Eleazar said.

Such link's disruption from specie extinction and other factors will affect ecological balance in the area concerned, experts also noted earlier.

To help further enhance conservation, several stakeholders earlier proposed that IPs' indigenous community conserved areas or sacred sites be given special land use category.

They believe such strategy will contribute towards regulating activities there so the environment can be protected while IPs' economic benefits from their natural resources can be sustained.

NewCAPP seeks helping Manuvu, Ayta, Tau Buid, Buhid, Balbalasan, Balatok, Dumagat and Mamanwa IPs. (PNA)

LDV/LOR/CJT/utb

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