5 Bicol protected areas get P1.3M grant each from German development agency
By Gina V. Rodriguez LEGAZPI CITY—-Some five protected areas or PAs in the Bicol region have been given an average grant of P1.3M each by a German development agency to enhance the management and conservation of their areas. Ancie Lawenko, public information officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) -Bicol, said the five presented proposals that were approved by the German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft fϋr Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH or GIZ. Lawenko, in an interview, said the five included four in Camarines Sur--Cabusao Wetland Critical Habitat, Caramoan National Park, Mt. Isarog Natural Park and Ragay-Cabadisan Mt. Range Conservation Forest. She said the fifth PA given the grant was the Catanduanes Watershed Forest Area. Lawenko said the financial assistance given to the five PAs was an offshoot of the “Protected Area Management Enhancement (PAME)” program of GIZ that was conducted in partnership with DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau. The five PAs were also given technical assistance in developing their management plans through the PAME program whose project objective was to improve the protection of key biodiversity areas in the Philippines. “There were four other PAs in the region given technical assistance by GIZ for a total of nine PAs which were helped by GIZ,” said Lawenko. The four others were Abasig-Matogdon-Mananap Natural Biotic Area in Camarines Norte, Bicol Natural Park located in the mountainous border between the provinces of Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, Bulusan Volcano Natural Park in Sorsogon and Lagonoy Natural Biotic Area in Camarines Sur. She said the technical assistance consisted of providing capacity-building to personnel of the Protected Area Management Bureau or PAMB in charge of the PA in terms of biodiversity assessment, social marketing and protected area planning workshops. Lawenko said the PAME program had a duration of five years, from October 2012 up to December 2017. “The overall results showed that the management effectiveness of the 9 PAs in Bicol increased by an average rating of 25 percent that were measured twice through a tracking tool developed by the World Bank,” she said. Lawenko said this means that there was an increased awareness and participation of the people in the efforts to conserve the biodiversity of the protected areas. She said the PAME program had a “closing program” in each of the regions in the country whose protected areas were assisted by GIZ. “The closing program in Bicol was held on August 24 in Daet, Camarines Norte while the closing in the national level was on September 6,” she added. DENR-Bicol Officer-In-Charge Regional Director Crisanta Marlene P. Rodriguez and the Park Superintendent or PASU of the nine protected areas given technical assistance by GIZ in Bicol attended the closing in Manila on Sept. 6. Lawenko said a site is identified as a protected area because of its unique biological significance as it is the habitat of certain species that are deemed endemic and vulnerable to exploitation.