NINETEEN Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials from all over the Philippines have arrived in Hanoi, Viet Nam for a three-day study tour on good practices in the management of protected areas.

Composed of officials from the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), DENR regional offices and natural parks and protected landscapes, the group will participate in a study tour under the Experiential Learning Programme of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB).

ACB Executive Director Roberto V. Oliva said the programme will give participants first-hand information through observations of good practices, interactions with local communities, and appreciation of the biodiversity and scenic beauty of Viet Nam’s Hoang Lien Sa Pa National Park, one of Southeast Asia’s 35 ASEAN Heritage Parks.

Officials from Viet Nam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Hoan Lien Sa Pa National Park will share with their Filipino counterparts their good practices on protected area management, ecotourism, and biodiversity conservation.

Director Oliva said the study tour is designed to encourage sharing of experiences and good practices among ASEAN Member States; expose participants to first-hand experiences on recreation, tourism and ecotourism management; and promote cooperation and networking among practitioners on recreation, tourism and ecotourism management.

BMB Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim said that based on the learnings from the study tour, the participants will prepare action plans that will be implemented in their respective regional offices and nature parks when they return to the Philippines.

The Experiential Learning Programme is a flagship initiative of ACB aimed at promoting effective management of protected areas.

Director Oliva said park management effectiveness offers an ecosystems approach in biodiversity conservation.

“Our focus is taking care of our protected areas and nature parks which means taking care of the habitats of living things. When we protect their habitats or ecosystems, we ensure the continuous supply of ecosystem services that we need for our well-being and survival. When we protect our ecosystems, we protect the species that live in them, thus, preventing extinction,” Director Oliva said.

He added that the programme is one of ASEAN’s contributions to the attainment of Aichi Target No. Target 11, which states that by 2020, at least 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.

Protected areas also play an important role in food security.

In a paper published by the Food and Agriculture Organization entitled ‘Protected Areas, People and Food Security’, the FAO highlighted the many benefits of protected areas, as they provide food, clean water, medicine and fodder, as well as employment and livelihood opportunities.

The report concluded that the benefits of the ecosystem services provided by protected areas extend beyond park boundaries, and that improved financing for protected areas can enhance livelihoods.

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