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Villar pushes for new, expanded protected areas


SENATOR Cynthia A. Villar is pushing for the passage of several bills that will create new protected areas and expand declared sites to remove the Philippines’ tag as a biodiversity “hotspot” where ecosystems are under serious threat by human activities.    

“Hotspots are also considered to be significantly threatened due to man-made exploitation and by climate change,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.  

Ms. Villar, chair of the Senate environment and natural resources committee, said many places in the country are seeing high rates of habitat degradation and biodiversity loss. 

“Hence, there are still many areas in the country, such as wetlands, marine sanctuaries, tropical forests, watersheds, wildlife sanctuaries, among others, that remain under-protected and one certain way of affording protection to these areas is by designating them as protected areas through legislation,” she said.  

Legislating more protected areas, she added, has also become more urgent due to the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean from 2021 to 2030.    

There are seven pending bills relating to the declaration of new or expanded protected areas.   

These include the Paoay Lake Protected Landscape in Ilocos Norte; Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park; San Francisco Protected Landscape and Alibijaban Protected Landscape and Seascape in Quezon province; Taklong and Tandog Group of Islands Natural Park in Guimaras; and Bantayan Group of Islands Protected Landscape and Seascape in Cebu.  

According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Philippines is one of 18 mega-biodiverse countries of the world, containing two-thirds of the earth’s biodiversity and between 70% and 80% of the world’s plant and animal species. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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