The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is urging the business sector and environmentally-inclined non-government organizations to take a more active role in saving the country’s endangered wildlife species from extinction by “adopting” them.
DENR Undersecretary for Staff Bureaus and Project Management Manuel Gerochi made the appeal Thursday during a forum that gathered more than a hundred participants identified as potential partners in the DENR’s “Adopt-a-Wildlife Species Program (AAWSP)” at the Philippine Stock Exchange Center Auditorium in Pasig City.
The forum, entitled “Fostering Partnerships towards the Conservation of the Philippine Eagle and other Threatened Wildlife Species,” was attended by, among others, representatives of conservationist groups, the business and academe sectors, and international funding institutions.
Gerochi highlighted the dependence of man on wildlife and biodiversity in general for basic needs, and everyone’s obligation to protect nature in return. “Our economic activities cannot be sustained without the ecological services that animals and plants provide… If extinction is the other side of existence, which side are we going to take?” he asked.
His challenge was echoed by Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri in a speech read by his Chief Legislative Staff Officer Davidson Torres. As chair of the Senate committee on natural resources, Zubiri reiterated the need to pass pending bills in Congress such as those on national land use, forest management, coastal management, and certain protected areas. “Efforts are making headway… Yet, there is an urgency to pass certain legislation to preserve the ecological habitats of [hundreds of] threatened animal and plant species,” he said.
The AAWSP is embodied in DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2010-16 to encourage organizations, groups or individuals interested in helping preserve the country’s wildlife and their habitat. Under the DAO, interested parties shall formalize the “adoption” by signing a Memorandum of Agreement with the DENR.
PAWB Director Theresa Mundita Lim said that “adoptors” can help support the conservation of priority species found in terrestrial and wetland areas that are under the jurisdiction of the DENR. These include 21 insect, 53 amphibian, 27 reptile, 137 bird, 86 mammal and 873 plant species, as listed in the administrative order.
“An adopting party can either directly implement a conservation program, engage an implementer, or make direct financial contributions to existing conservation programs,” she explained. Such existing programs are for the Philippine eagle, Philippine crocodile, the Tamaraw and the Waling-waling orchid.
Lim added that the adoption of wildlife species could also form part of the business sector’s corporate social responsibility.
The AAWSP is ideal for entities or individuals who have enough financial resources to support the program. Aside from the ecological benefits, donations made directly to the DENR are also 100% tax-deductible, as prescribed under Republic Act 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, and the National Internal Revenue Code.
CEMEX Philippines Foundation and Conservation International (CI) – Philippines are the first implementers of the program, as partners in the three-year project “Piloting Conservation Stewardship Program for the Protection of the Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) in Bohol, Samar and Leyte.”
The Philippines, although hailed as one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world, has also been considered one of the “hottest of hotspots” in biodiversity, with several species under threat of near extinction.
The forum comes on the heels of the declaration of years 2011-2020 as the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity. The AAWSP is a strategy by the DENR, in partnership with the private sector, in helping ensure the perpetuity of species especially those considered threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). -30- PAO, DENR