‘Both Locals & Environment Must Benefit from Newest Ramsar Site’

A Ramsar Convention executive challenged the members of the Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Area Management Alliance (NOCWAMA) to ensure both the locals and environment are benefitting from the management of the newest Ramsar Site in country.

KABANKALAN CITY. At the unveiling ceremony of the Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area (NOCWCA). At left, Kabankalan City Mayor Isidro P. Zayco. At right, Dr. Llewelyn Young, keynote speaker of Ramsar Senior Advisor for Asea-Oceana. The activity was held Saturday, Oct. 28 at Kabankalan City Hall grounds, with representatives from different agencies, Local Goverment Units, CENRO-Kabankalan, PENRO, DENR, CENECCORD, KAHIL-ICAMC, CPSU, CHMSC, PBCFI and BFAR.*(Jun Gaton / Pasiplat photo)

In the unveiling of Ramsar Site marker for the Neg. Occ. Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area (NOCWCA) on Saturday at the Kabankalan City Hall, Llewellyn Young of the Ramsar Convention Secretariat said the designation of the wetlands area in the province is just at the beginning of its management.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. It is also known as the Convention on Wetlands. It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the Convention was signed in 1971.

“Ramsar sites are not just for the designation, they are for the long investment by the government and the people to ensure that these places are managed in a sustainable way for future generations,” said Young, Senior Advisor for Asia and Oceania of Ramsar.

Aside from its projected ecological advantages, Young said the management needs to ensure the local people are benefiting from the 109.52-kilometer coastal conservation area.

The marker was unveiled more than a year after NOCWCA’s declaration as Ramsar Site 2271 worldwide and the seventh in the Philippines October last year covering the cities of Bago, Himamaylan and Kabankalan, and municipalities of Pulupandan, Valladolid, San Enrique, Pontevedra, Hinigaran, Binalbagan and Ilog.

He added that locals living in and nearby the area must understand why the Ramsar site is set up.

An open forum with the partner academe, fisher folk and people’s organizations and the Ramsar Secetariat was held after the ceremony to demystify and lay the advantages of the Ramsar Site.

Young assured the locals of the Ramsar Convention’s full support, along with the commitment of the Philippine Government through implementing agencies, to any future projects and endeavors.

He also said the management must find a way to measure the knowledge and attitude of the locals living in NOCWCA on the site and its international designation.

“Ideally, we should see a positive change in the attitude of the local communities on the importance and benefits they are getting from the Ramsar site,” he said.

The six-year management plan of NOCWCA was also launched during the ceremony which was received by the convention executive with optimism, “you have your management structure, you have your management plan, and now you begin the hard work of managing the site.”

Ramasar is an intergovernmental agreement to protect the wetlands, initially, as the habitats of the waterfowls covering more than 2280 sites in 169 countries.

The unveiling ceremony was organized by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office Neg. Occ. and was attended by Kabankalan City Mayor Isidro Zayco, former regional directors of then DENR-Negros Island Region Al Orolfo and Livino Duran, Tui Macuata, the Paramount Chief of Qoloqoli Cokavat in labasa, Fiji and representatives from the Neg. Occ. Provincial Environment Management Office, Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc. and other partners. *(PENRO Negros Occ. w/ report from NDB)


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