Philippines: DENR to press for protection of migratory species

Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz Manila Bulletin 4 Oct 17;

The Philippines is expected to push for major initiatives in an international wildlife conference in Manila this month that will protect migratory species in ecotourism sites.

“The Philippines, as an important host to a number of migratory species in its coastal, marine, wetland and forest ecosystems, will prove to the rest of the world that human development should not be at the cost of our natural resources and the ecosystem services that they provide,” Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu said.

The DENR chief pointed out that the country has already submitted its draft “Resolution on Sustainable Tourism and Migratory Species” to the United Nations Environment Programme in time for the 12th Conference of Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), to be held in Manila from October 23 to 28.

“The resolution aims to bring forth how wildlife interaction in tourism affects migratory species and how tourism activities should be managed to ensure that these do not negatively impact the said species,” Cimatu said.

Through the conference, he explained that the Philippines will have the opportunity to share its experiences in terms of migratory species conservation for other countries to follow.

“Global resources are shared resources. As a global resource, the preservation of migratory species should be a collective responsibility of all nations,” he pointed out.

Migratory species that pass by the Philippines on different times of the year contribute as wildlife tourist attractions and have led to the rise in ecotourism.

These species include the whale shark or ‘butanding’ that migrates to Legazpi City in Albay, Donsol in Sorsogon, and Oslob in Cebu; the sea cow or ‘dugong’ that frequents Busuanga in Palawan and Mati City in Davao Oriental; and marine turtle or ‘pawikan’ that visits the provinces of Bataan, Palawan and Tawi-Tawi.

As part of the East Asian-Austrasian Migratory Flyway, the Philippines also hosts a number of migratory birds in protected areas, such as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecosystem Area, Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro, and Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu.

Cimatu explained that the proposed resolution aims to regulate ecotourism areas frequented by migratory species and ensure that their natural migration patterns, habitats, population are not distorted or harmed.

“It is important for the Philippines and all countries that are parties to the CMS to maintain migratory sites as viable habitats so that these species will continue to come back,” he said.

“We can do tourism using biodiversity, but we have to preserve it. There should be a balance between man and nature in pursuit of economic development,” he added.

He expressed hope that the CMS party states will adopt the resolution.

It is the first time the CMS conference will be held in Asia since the international treaty was adopted in Bonn, Germany in 1979 and came into force in 1985.