Cognizant of Protected Area systems and Environmentally Critical Areas Network (ECAN) as relevant to enhance the status of Palawan as Man and Biosphere Reserve through effective protected area management, the very first Palawan Protected Areas Management Board (PAMB) Summit was held on February 11-12, 2015 at the Palawan Sustainable Development Training Institute in Bgy. Irawan Puerto Princesa City by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Conservation International (CI).
With the theme, “Enhancing the Status of Palawan as Man and Biosphere Reserve through Effective Protected Area Management,” This forum aims to: 1) Assess the status of protected areas (PAs) in the province; 2) Know the PAs and their respective PAMBs’ governance issues, concerns, needs, threats and gaps; 3) Improve the knowledge and understanding of PAMB members on foundational topics relevant to their mandate; 4) Develop a Roadmap of PA Management in the province; and 5) Formulate/Agree on mechanisms by which PAMBs can better coordinate, share learnings, trends and best practices on PA management.
The first day opened with a message from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Juan Dela Cruz, followed by a briefer on the state of the province’s PAs by the PCSDS’ Director for Operations, Josephine Matulac. Then a brief lecture was given by Dr. Corazon C. Sinha, former director of Director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of DENR (PAWB-DENR), regarding the concept and values of protected area management to biological and ecological processes, and the economy, including eco-tourism potentials.
After a brief synthesis and open forum regarding the presentations of Dir. Matulac and Dr. Sinha, the Superintendents (PASU) of each PA then presented the current situation of the area they supervise, their successes and challenges. The presentations were followed by a lecture on re-engineering of PA management by Dr. Benjamin C. Bagadion, Jr., consultant for community-based resource management to the Environmental Resource Management Program.
The second day opened with a backgrounder regarding the harmonization of the NIPAS LAW and SEP Law by Atty. Julius Concepcion, a professor at the Palawan State University School of Law. This was followed by the presentation of “The Promise of Sydney” and “Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT)” by PCSDS Executive Director Nelson P. Devanadera.
The participants then had a workshop for Action Planning of the PAMBs. It served as the foundation for the furtherance of development and effectiveness of management of each PA and the garnering of commitment from each stakeholder.
Based on the presentations of the PASUs, the most common strengths of the PAs are the multi-stakeholdership of the management boards and active participation of NGOs and the academe. As for challenges, each PA faces monetary constraints, lack of manpower, unsustainable use of resources, pollution (garbage, wastewater etc.), poverty and lack of alternative livelihood of people in the communities around and inside the PAs, climate change, enforcement of environmental laws, continuous illegal activities in the sites, and encroachment inside the PAs.
In line with all the information laid out, the two-day conference resulted in the development of: 1) a situationaire of Palawan’s Protected Areas and Protected Area Management Boards; 2) Roadmap of Palawan’s PAs and PAMBs; and 3) Mechanisms for better coordination, mentoring, and sharing of learnings and best practices in PA Management.
The data below is the list of the seven declared protected areas in the province of Palawan, the PA superintendents, the legal basis of their declaration and the areas covered.
|PROTECTED AREA||SUPERINTENDENT||LEGAL BASIS||AREA
|Malampaya Sound Protected Landscape Seascape||PASU Alex Mancio||Proc. 342||7/12/00||200,115|
|Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape||PASU Pablo Cruz||Proc. 1815||6/23/09||120,457|
|Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park||PASU Angelique Songco||RA 10067||12/16/09||97,030|
|El Nido Managed Resource Protected Area||PASU Zaldy Cayatoc||Proc. 32||10/8/98||89,134|
|Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (St. Paul Subterranean River NP)||PASU Elizabeth Maclang||Proc. 212
|Rasa Island Widlife Sanctuary||PASU Rhodora Ubani||Proc. 1000||2/15/06||1,983|
|Ursula Island Game Refuge and Bird Sanctuary||CENRO/PASU Florencio Diaz||Admin Order No. 14||4/30/60||17.20|
Palawan, a cradle of biodiversity, has been declared as “Man and Biosphere Reserve” (MAB) by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1990 and has been given the title of the country’s “Last Ecological Frontier.” It is along these contexts where necessity of operationalizing Protected Areas is of utmost importance as a strategy of keeping Palawan’s diversity intact. It has to achieve a sustainable balance between the goals of conserving biological diversity, promoting economic development, and maintaining associated cultural values.
In 1992, the Philippine Government established a system of protected areas, ranging from large natural parks to landscapes and seascapes, to wildlife and marine life sanctuaries for conservation and management of the “last representatives” of the country’s habitat and ecosystem. The legal framework for the establishment and management of protected areas in the Philippines came into being by virtue of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992 (RA 7586) under the direction of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). These protected areas are the cornerstone of biodiversity conservation and are the keys to buffer unpredictable impacts of impending climate change. They contribute as important stock of natural, cultural and social capital, yielding flows of economically valuable goods and services that benefit society, secure livelihoods and contribute to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals.
The NIPAS Law provides for the management, protection, sustainable development, and rehabilitation of protected areas. In terms of administration, the law provided for the creation of Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), which is a multi-sectoral decision making body for each of the protected area established under the NIPAS.
On the other hand, in support to Palawan’s inscription as MAB by UNESCO in 1990, the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan (SEP) Act (RA 7611) was created to establish sustainable development framework for the province. The Law recognizes that PAs are important components of Palawan Biosphere Reserve. They are management instruments to support the implementation of Palawan BR and protect Key Biodiversity Areas. The PCSD, as the administrative body implementing the SEP Law, is also the one mandated to implement the NIPAS Law in the province as declared by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Opinion NO. 90, series of 1994 and, later, Opinion 136 in the same year.
The categories and criteria in determination of appropriate category of protected areas are listed in Section 3 of the NIPAS Act. These are the following: (1) strict nature reserve, (2) natural park, (3) natural monument, (4) wildlife sanctuary, (5) protected landscapes and seascapes, (6) resource reserve, (7) natural biotic areas, and (8) other categories established by law, conventions or international agreements which the Philippine Government is a signatory. It also applies to areas identified as a national park, game refuge, bird and wildlife sanctuary, wilderness area, strict nature reserve, watershed, mangrove reserve, fish sanctuary, natural and historical landmark, protected and managed landscape or seascape as well as to identified virgin forests. It shall also apply to other protected areas that may later be established pursuant to the Act.
Membership of the PAMB in Palawan comprises the following:
- The DENR Regional Executive Director (RED) and Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff Executive Director as Chairman and Co-Chairman respectively.
- The Provincial Development Officer from each province with territory within the protected area.
- One representative from each Barangay with territory within the Protected area.
- One representative from each tribal community residing within the protected area, if applicable.
- At least three (3) representatives from local NGO’s and community organizations, including people’s organizations, church or civic organizations. These representatives shall be based in or near protected area.
- One representative, if necessary, from other national government departments that may be involved in protected area management. In situations wherein two or more such departments are involved, the representative shall be chosen by and among themselves.