Palawan LGUs enjoined to promote conservation through flagship species

by | Feb 11, 2016

The local government units (LGUs) in Palawan are enjoined to identify flagship species that shall serve as emblem of conservation in its respective localities.

Pursuant to Section 35 of RA 9147 or the Wildlife Resources and Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 which commits the LGUs to “initiate conservation measures for endemic species in their areas,” the Palawan Council Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) proposed a resolution entitiled “The Guidelines on the Selection and Management of Flagship Species by the Local Government Units.”

The said resolution was included in the agenda of the 222nd PCSD Regular Meeting on January 28. But the Council has deferred it for further review.

PCSD is a multi-sectoral and intergovernmental agency created through RA 7611 or the Strategic Environment Plan for Palawan Act. It is mandated to provide comprehensive framework for the sustainable development of Palawan compatible with protecting and enhancing the natural resources and endangered environment of the province.

In connection, the guidelines aimed at assisting the LGUs in its “selection, adoption and management of flagship species that would ensure flagships functionality in order to attain conservation goals in a long term basis.”

“With the naming of flagship species in a certain locality, the LGU and community can create programs and projects that would help raise awareness on why we need to protect and conserve those endemic species and its habitats,” said Levita A. Lagrada, head of the Permitting Unit at the ECAN Regulation and Enforcement Division (ERED).

Lagrada, who drafted the said guidelines, noted that the provisions will be applied to all Philippine and Palawan endemic terrestrial and aquatic wildlife species found in the province.

Endemic species and rare species of wild plants and animals candidate for flagship species should foster a sense of pride in the local environment, according to the guidelines.

“Pride of place is a powerful emotion that can motivate people to change their behaviors and empower them to take environmental action,” it explained.

For instance, Lagrada furthered, Puerto Princesa City integrated Palawan peacock in its official logo, while Narra town bannered itself as the “Philippine Cockatoo Capital of the World” with Rasa Island Wildlife Sanctuary as the critically-endangered Philippine Cockatoo’s (locally known as Katala/Agay) safe refuge.

Philippine Cockatoo / "Katala" (Cacatua haematuropygia). (FILE PHOTO//Celso S. Quiling/PCSDS)
Philippine Cockatoo / “Katala” (Cacatua haematuropygia). (FILE PHOTO//Celso S. Quiling/PCSDS)

“Puerto Princesa has its Tandikan Festival, while Narra has its Katala Day,” she mentioned, adding that such activities encourage the public to support, and create sense of ownership in, the management programs and other related activities being implemented for the said species.

For this purpose, the flagship species should be “charismatic or appealing, and “have no negative perceptions among local people such as being crop pest, being dangerous, or have existing cultural connotations that detract from or compete with the campaign’s conservation messages.”

Based on endemism, combined with any of the provided criteria, the LGU should submit, through a resolution, a list of candidates for its flagship species to PCSD on or before July 2016.

Three or more species shall be nominated in order of priority; however, if the first choice is already declared as flagship species of another LGU, the PCSD shall approve the second priority.

To assist them in the selection process, LGUs will be provided with “a list of endemic species and their profile that can be found in each municipality based on the best scientific information available.”

But “they may also opt to conduct biodiversity assessment, rapid assessment or interview with the community in order to identify wildlife species found within their political jurisdiction.”

Once declared and adopted, the LGU must organize a Technical Working Group (TWG) that will create a five-year Species Action Plan (SAP) or Conservation Strategies dedicated for the management and conservation of flagship species.

The SAP shall be developed through a workshop organized by the LGU, with the PCSDS concerned staff facilitating and serving as a technical resource person.

Aside from coordinating plans and programs, LGUs are also the ones that will allocate a fund for the conservation and management of the species.