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Second biodiversity youth camp opens next month

MANILA, April 29 — The environment department's Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) will further expand its biodiversity information campaign by conducting in Metro Manila next month its second summer camp for the youth.

"Through the summer camp, we aim to help raise the youth's awareness about biodiversity and need for them to conserve this resource," said Thelma Perez, senior ecosystems management specialist at BMB's Nature Recreation and Extension Division that's in charge of the event.

She said the summer camp will be from May 22 to 23 at Quezon City's Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC).

Data show the Philippines is among the world's mega-diverse countries as it hosts over 52,177 fauna and flora species about 50 percent of which are found nowhere else, BMB said.

BMB continues spearheading conservation efforts nationwide as data also show the Philippines is still one of the world's biodiversity hotspots.

Some 207 fauna and 526 flora species in the country are at risk of extinction due to habitat destruction, over-collection, invasive alien species, chemical pollution as well as poaching and illegal trade, BMB noted.

The summer camp is among activities BMB lined up for its 2014 celebration of the annual International Day for Biological Diversity (IDBD).

For this year, global celebration of IDBD on May 22 will focus on island biodiversity.

Such coincides with UN General Assembly's designation of 2014 as International Year of Small Island Developing States.

"The Philippines has a number of islands each with its own unique ecosystem hosting various flora and fauna species and some of these are even endemic so we'll teach this during the camp," Perez said.

She noted BMB aims instilling in the camp's participants knowledge about and appreciation for fragility of islands' ecosystems.

Perez said 72 incoming first year high school students from public schools in Quezon City already submitted their applications to join the camp.

Data show they're from San Francisco High School, Rondon High School, Commonwealth High School, Judge Feliciano Belmonte Sr. High School, Quirino High School, Jose P. Laurel High School, Maligaya High School, Ramon Magsaysay (Cubao) High School, Don A. Roces Sr. Science and Technology High School, North Fairview High School, Culiat High School and New Era High School.

"We chose incoming high school freshmen so they can learn about and help conserve biodiversity early on," Perez said.

Aside from lectures and a skit on biodiversity. a jamming session and walk through NAPWC, the summer camp will feature a biodiversity booth contest for the participants.

BMB will set up in NAPWC booths for each of 12 areas this agency identified for the contest, Perez said.

The areas where endemic fauna and flora can be found are Ilocos Region, Calabarzon, Bicol/Catanduanes/Masbate,Mindoro/Marinduque/Romblon, Palawan, Cebu, Bohol and Siquijor, Negros and Panay Islands,

Perez said BMB decided holding, before the summer camp, a raffle to determine the students' respective booth assignments.

The students must display, in respective booths, items that best represent biodiversity in areas they're assigned to, she said.

She said prizes for the contest's winners will be learning equipment like microscopes for their schools. (PNA)

CTB/CJT/UTB

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