Wednesday,February 6, 2019

Protected Areas

Balinsasayao Twin Lakes

Protected Areas as forefront of Biodiversity Conservation in the Philippines


The Philippines has always been considered one of the mega diverse country in the world. With ecosystems that boasts of one of the highest levels of diversity and endemicity of life forms and some of the most unique habitats in the world-home to some of the planet’s critically endangered species of wildlife. With the country’s habitats and ecosystems, which play a major role in maintaining ecological balance in constant threat from illegal resource use and development activities increasing the pressure on already declining resources, the country has become one of the “Biodiversity hotspots” in the world.

In order to address these threats to biodiversity, the Philippine government in cooperation and consultation with local and foreign conservation partners, embarked on a mission to establish a system of protected areas in the country. Assessments, researches and studies were conducted to determine and prioritize the conservation of the last remaining Philippine species, habitats and ecosystems.


Protected areas provided the foundation of national conservation strategies and delivery of Aichi Target in the Philippines“.


Legal Framework:


Two landmark laws were enacted for the establishment and management of protected areas: Republic Act No 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 and Republic Act No 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) Act of 2018.


NIPAS and E-NIPAS define protected areas as “portions of land and water set aside by reason of their unique physical and biological significance, managed to enhance biological diversity and protected against destructive human exploitation”.



With the passage of the NIPAS Act of 1992, priority conservation areas were identified through innovative approaches and the legislation provided the framework for a decentralized, community-based reserve management strategies.



Categories of Protected Areas under NIPAS and eNIPAS:


Strict Nature Reserve – is an area possessing some outstanding ecosystem, features and/or species of flora and fauna of national scientific importance maintained to protect nature and maintain processes in an undisturbed state in order to have ecologically representative examples of the natural environment available for scientific study, environmental monitoring, education, and for the maintenance of genetic resources in a dynamic and evolutionary state.


Natural Park – is a relatively large area not materially altered by human activity where extractive resource uses are not allowed and maintained to protect outstanding natural and scenic areas of national or international significance for scientific, educational and recreational use.


Natural Monument – is a relatively small area focused on protection of small features to protect or preserve nationally significant natural features on account of their special interest or unique characteristics.


Wildlife Sanctuary – comprises an area which assures the natural conditions necessary to protect nationally significant species, groups of species, biotic communities or physical features of the environment where these may require specific human manipulation for the perpetuation.


Protected Landscapes and Seascapes – are areas of national significance which are characterized by the harmonious interaction of man and land while providing opportunities for public enjoyment through recreation and tourism within the normal lifestyle and economic activity of these areas.


Resource Reserve – is an extensive and relatively isolated and uninhabited area normally with difficult access designated as such to protect natural resources of the area for future use and prevent or contain development activities that could affect the resource pending the establishment of objectives which are based upon appropriate knowledge and planning.


Natural Biotic Areas – is an area set aside to allow the way of life of societies living in harmony with the environment to adapt to modem technology at their pace
Other  Categories established by law, conventions or international agreements which  the Philippine Government is signatory.


The e-NIPAS Act of 2018 brings to 248 the total number of Protected Areas in the Philippines which was previously 240 under the NIPAS law. View list of Protected Areas




Status of Protected Areas in the Philippines:


  • 39% (2.7M of the 6.8 M forest cover of the Philippines are within protected areas (as of 2015)
  • 93 of the 228 Key Biodiversity Areas are within protected areas

Under eNIPAS:


  • 114 Protected Areas have backup legislation
  • 13 have previous Presidential Proclamation
  • 121 are remaining initial components


The following are the additional protected areas under eNIPAS:


  1. Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA)
  2. Ticao-Burias Protected Seascape
  3. Buhi Wildlife Sanctuary
  4. Tinuy-An Falls Protected Landscape


Update 2022: The following are the new protected areas categorized “Protected Landscapes” under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS):


  1. Mt. Arayat in Pampanga – Republic Act 11684
  2. Mt. Pulag in Benguet – Republic Act 11685
  3. Naga-Kabasalan in Zamboanga Sibugay – Republic Act 11686 
  4. Tirad Pass in Ilocos Sur – Republic Act 11687
  5. Banao (Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park) in Kalinga – Republic Act 11688 


In terms of area, the following are the 5 largest Protected Areas under eNIPAS:


  1. Tañon Strait, Cebu and Negros Islands (534,589 hectares)
  2. Ticao-Burias Pass, Albay, Masbate, and Sorsogon provinces (414,244 hectares)
  3. Samar Island Natural Park, Samar (335,105 hectares)
  4. Siargao Island, Surigao Del Norte (283,974 hectares)
  5. Turtle Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Tawi-Tawi (242,958 hectares)