LEGAZPI CITY, April 7 (PNA) -- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recognized the province of Albay as a new biosphere reserve site globally.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the recognition given by UNESCO is another accomplishment and pride for the province.
“We welcome it as an ecological marker of excellence and a challenge to our community,” Salceda said.
He believes that the province has greatly contributed to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves and the robust implementation of the recently adopted Lima Declaration and Action Plan.
The UNESCO recently gave the province an ecological marker as one of the 20 new biosphere reserves across the world for committing nationally and internationally to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
It described biosphere reserves “places for learning about sustainable development aiming to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with sustainable use of natural resources.”
Albay is blessed with a variety of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and is implementing an efficient program in protecting and conserving vast areas of forests, grasslands, freshwater, marine and coastal ecosystems.
Salceda said as former co-chair of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) he helped introduce cultural heritage as a fundable activity for adaptation and biosphere for the campaign against greenhouse gas emission.
Albay is known for a variety of terrestrial core zones such as the Mayon Volcano National Park, Mt. Masaraga Watershed Forest Reserve, Mt. Malinao-Tiwi Geothermal reservation and the Pocdol mountain range in Manito town.
The province is also home to a multitude of biodiversity that includes various species of fauna, plants and fish sanctuaries.
In Albay, fauna diversity consists of 280 species, of which 91 are endemic.
These include four endemic mammals (brown deer, flying fox), 12 species of birds (cockatoo, eagle, owl), 13 endemic frog species, 17 species of amphibians and 30 species of reptiles.
Of the insects and Arachnids, 52 species are spiders, 21 are moths, seven species of stick insects, 42 species of species of butterflies and 27 species of beetles and 22 Philippine reptiles.
As for the marine and coastal fauna it encompasses 272 species, 158 are gastropods, 15 bivalves, 12 are crustaceans, 13 echnoderms, a sea Ssug, 26 corals, five turtles and 42 are fishes.
Albay's flora diversity consists of 182 species -- 46 of which are endemic, 10 are in the red list, and seven are classified as vulnerable.
Its marine and coastal ecosystems house 62 species of flora, distributed into 12 species of mangroves, 40 species of seaweeds or macro-algae and 10 species of sea grasses.
These represent 62.5 percent of all known species in the Philippines.
Salceda said that under his watch, terrestrial buffer zones have increased from 35,000 hectares to over 62,000 hectares.
The revised zonation includes over 68,000 hectares as a marine buffer zone and over 65,000 hectares as a marine transition zone.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) proposed a biosphere reserve in Albay and that it would undertake a long-term protection of at least 381,526.65 hectares of terrestrial and marine ecosystems to cover core, buffer and transition zones.
Its terrestrial protection will cover the Mayon Volcano National Park, Mt. Masaraga Watershed Forest Reserve, Mt. Malinao-Tiwi Geothermal Reservation and Pocdol Mountain Range, while for the marine and coastal ecosystems will cover fish sanctuaries, turtle habitats, sea grass beds, sediment communities, coral reefs and mangrove forests.
As this developed, Philip Bartilet, an environmental advocate, urged and reminded local chief executives to strictly heed the “no mining” ordinance, citing that any mining exploration would pose a threat to the province, which was just recently declared by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve.
Albay’s biosphere reserve declaration is the third in the Philippines, following that Puerto Galera and Palawan which were declared by UNESCO as reserve areas in 1977 and 1990, respectively.
Other 19 new sites made it to the network, making the total of 669 protected biosphere reserves across 120 countries.
Bartilet even cited a proposed mining exploration in eight selected sites in villages in the town of Camalig which, according to him, would be harmful to the environment and would not be beneficial to the community.
He said areas closed to mining are areas declared by the LGU as no mining zones, protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System, prime agricultural lands, and tourism development areas.(PNA) JMC/FGS/MSA/CBD