First PHL natural history museum planned

December 12, 2012 11:16 pm 

By Catherine Teves

MANILA, Dec. 12 — Government aims to establish by 2014 the first natural history museum in biodiversity-rich Philippines.

Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau and National Museum are collaborating on the matter to help further promote public appreciation and conservation of biodiversity nationwide.

"The undertaking also aims to help enhance research on Philippine biodiversity," PAWB Dir. Ma. Theresa Mundita Lim said.

She raised need for more research and conservation efforts, noting species are disappearing faster than these are able to propagate.

"The extinction rate is 1,000 times greater," she noted.

Exploitation, habitat destruction and land conversion are among causes of specie extinction, experts noted.

Lim said benefits of protecting biodiversity goes beyond keeping ecological balance.

She maintains species must be protected since these also help regenerate forests and other habitats as well.

"Birds and other species carry and disperse seeds – it's a natural and inexpensive way to grow back forests," she said.

Lim said NM is government's depository for species found nationwide so its collection will be showcased in the target natural museum.

"That museum will have a controlled environment for proper storage and display of the species," she said.

Authorities concerned will work out details for the planned facility's establishment, Lim noted.

NM will house the facility in this institution's existing complex, she said.

She noted the target is to have a natural museum that's at par with similar facilities in other countries.

On Wednesday afternoon, PAWB and Foundation for the Philippine Environment spearheaded the recognition ceremony for several experts who discovered and helped identify, in the past 25 years, various flora and fauna species in the country including endemic ones.

The honorees are former environment chief Dr. Angel Alcala as well as experts Liza Paguntalan, Danilo Balete, Dr. Victor Amoroso, Ulysses Ferreras, Philip Godfrey Jakosalem, Mariano Duya, Maria Josefa Veluz, Dr. Rafe Brown, Dr. Perry Ong and NM's Dr. Arvin Diesmos.

PAWB and FPE presented each of them a certificate of recognition for respective work that led to discovery and identification of new species in the Philippines.

"Their dedication to science and conservation is commendable," FPE board of trustees treasurer Vilma Joson said during the event.

Over 270 flora and fauna species have been discovered across the country since 1987, PAWB noted.

Among those species are 29 rodents, 44 reptiles and three bats, PAWB said.

"Such discoveries shouldn't just astound us but must also provide strong impetus to accelerate biodiversity conservation efforts in the face of multiple threats: illegal logging, illegal wildlife trading, introduction of exotic invasive species, pollution and climate change," Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources Sec. Ramon Paje said in a speech the agency's Asst. Sec. Rommel Abesamis read during the recognition ceremony.

DENR reiterated the Philippines is among the world's mega-diverse countries, has one of the highest endemism levels in the Indo-Malayan region and is ranked among nations with the highest rate of specie discovery.

"Despite being home to a unique biodiversity – considered one of the richest in the world – the Philippine is a global conservation hotspot requiring the highest conservation priority," DENR said, however.

The recognition ceremony was among activities lined up for PAWB's 25th anniversary celebration.

During the recognition ceremony, Abesamis and Lim led opening of the exhibit on several flora and fauna species discovered nationwide in the past 25 years.

They also spearheaded unveiling a report covering such species. (PNA)

HBC/CJT/UTB

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