DENR eyes controlled activities in IP sacred sites

May 7, 2012 9:51 pm 

MANILA, May 7 — Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) sees the need for recognizing indigenous community conserved areas (ICCAs) nationwide as a land use category to better protect their environment from unscrupulous activities that undermine such sacred sites of indigenous peoples (IPs).

DENR-Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau assistant director Nelson Devanadera said ICCAs must be protected, particularly amidst onslaught of climate change, since these sites were essential in helping sustain IPs’ culture and livelihood.

”Philippine ICCAs are mostly in key biodiversity areas, covering major ecosystem types like forests and water bodies, so these sacred sites must be protected to also help sustain the country’s ecological benefits from natural resources there,” he said.

Residential, commercial and industrial categories are commonly shown in local comprehensive land use plans.

Recognizing ICCAs as a distinct land use category will help identify allowable activities there to better protect these sacred sites from degradation.

Authorities earlier identified unsustainable resource extraction, mining, armed conflict, illegal logging, use of toxic chemicals in agriculture, forest -burning and unregulated migration as among activities contributing to ICCAs' degradation.

DENR also warned decline in respect for IPs’ traditional resource management systems compounded ICCAs’ problems, resulting in loss of biodiversity and habitats there “at an alarming rate.”

Devanadera said such respect must be sustained as IPs were traditional caretakers of ecosystems and their centuries-old environmental protection management systems proved effective, however.

"They know their respective environments – we've much to learn from them," he said.

He also pointed out such traditional knowledge and IPs' efforts on environmental protection are useful in helping the country better adapt to climate change.

"We recognize those as critical to our climate change adaptation strategy," he said.

Onslaught of increasingly violent weather disturbances is one climate change impact which the country aims adapting to the best way it could.

Resources and ecosystems within ICCAs are under threat from increasingly violent weather disturbances.

Earlier, DENR commenced its 2010-2015 New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project (NewCAPP), which aims to strengthen capacity of IPs as well as national and local governments in managing selected conservation areas.

NewCAPP seeks helping Manuvu, Ayta, Tau Buid, Buhid, Balbalasan, Balatok, Dumagat and Mamanwa IPs, DENR noted.

NewCAPP funds come from the Global Environment Facility through United Nations Development Programme. (PNA) RMA/CJT/ssc

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