Thursday, August 15, 2013

“To Protect the Ocean that Connects Us All” PALAWOD DECLARATION



GREEN ALERT NEGROS ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK INC.
NEGROS OCCIDENTAL – BACOLOD CITY
B7 L8 Marapara Heights Subd. Brgy. Bata

DECLARATION OF PARTNERSHIP, COMMITMENTS & CONVICTIONS
“To Protect the Ocean that Connects Us All”
PALAWOD DECLARATION
MAY 31 to June 2, 2013
Campomanes Bay, SIPALAY CITY

We the participants of the Awareness and Educational Marine Camp in collaboration with the Green Alert Negros, the Coral Triangle Initiative, the Local Government Unit (LGU) of the Province of Negros Occidental and City of Sipalay, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Department of Toursim are hereby proclaiming our appreciations and concerns of our remaining coastal and marine frontier in Negros. Our insightful communion with Campomanes Bay in Sipalay City, deserves a merit that this is indeed worth a global attention --- the cooperation of the citizens, the Non-Government Organization, and the Government Agencies being one in the agenda of protecting our fragile ecosystems for specific reasons.

Our three days Marine Camp opened our eyes to the stark reality of the dwindling coastal ecosystem and it would further erode if we will not act together and further address the root causes.

We hereby outline, our observation and  convictions in finding solutions towards our common good.

ECONOMIC

       Ø  We believe that only the Political Will of our LGU’s can stop the existing illegal logging activities inside the “Wilderness” in upland Sipalay and adjoining Municipalities, which is accounted to be the remaining 300 hectares of virgin forest in the area. We have learned that until today “unknown culprits” keeps on coming back in the area cutting indigenous trees. The said activities could render irreversible destruction to the forest ecosystem and will put Sipalay and the adjacent municipalities in South Negros at risk to disasters such as flashfloods, Soil Erosion, etc. With only 4.7% forest cover left in Negros, we stand firm on the decision: Our forest are non-negotiable.

 Ø   We have seen the challenges on Solid Waste Management around the area of the Bay, which directly affects the Corals and the Marine Biodiversity. We implore the local government to address this challenge to ensure the mutual benefits of the coastal ecosystem and the local economy because of safeguarding the livelihood of the people and tourism industry.

      
 Ø   We believe that the Department of Tourism - Sipalay City and Province of Negros Occidental take the lead in promoting the area to generate more jobs, develop and improve infrastructure, and increase tourism activity through Environmental Awareness and Sustainable Eco-Tourism. With collective support and technical expertise, of other government agencies such as CENRO, PEMO, and BFAR to the community then it would pump the local economy that would benefit all.

 Ø   We Highly Encourage the implementation of alternative (environmentally and economically sound) livelihood projects (i.e. organic farming, rice husk charcoal making, fish nursery for high value fishes) for the upland and coastal dwellers to avoid if not minimize intrusion to protected areas for resource extraction as livelihood.

 Ø  Improve the implementation of the Integrated Social Forestry Program (i.e. multiple cropping, and agroforestry) and the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 or Republic Act No. 8550 which puts emphasis on conservation, protection and sustained management of the country's fishery and aquatic resources. We highlight that Municipal Waters has to be respected and local fisherfolks that employs manual fishing methods be given priority. That commercial fishing vessels that employ compressor methods and uses ring and fine mesh nets that is found violating RA 8850 be penalized to the full extent of the law.

 Ø   We give our full support to the strict enforcement of the total commercial log ban on the remaining strands of hardwood forest that covers the Wilderness and in Negros in general specifically in Northern Negros Natural Park and Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park, to serve as example and eventually the remaining forest cover all over Negros. We strongly recommend the creation special body comprising of community leaders, civil society organizations including the Religious Groups and the LGU to ensure the protection of the “Wilderness” in Sipalay.

 Ø   We recommend the protection of the flora and fauna inside the Wilderness within the Bay Area and other linking Ecosystems, most especially the remaining coral reefs in Campomanes Bay including the historically integrity of the sunken SS Panay in the bay.  We condemned the cutting, poaching, and trading of common, rare, threatened, vulnerable, and endemic wildlife and plant species in the area.

 Ø   We encourage the local government to implement community managed tourism programs to provide focus on the cultural and economic aspect of upland and coastal villages. These community managed tourism programs must be community led and managed to directly channel the economic benefits and strategically empower the upland communities.


POLITICAL

 Ø   We challenge the reelected and newly elected government officials in Sipalay and the rest of the province to prioritize the protection and preservation of the province’s remaining natural resources for the next years to come, during the duration of their “borrowed” position in government.

 Ø   We call for the review of the status of the “Wilderness” under recognized forestry laws and declare it as a significant area for conservation in South of Negros including Campomanes Bay.

 Ø   We admire the commitment of the City Officials of Sipalay City, towards the protection of its Natural Resources and tapping the potential of Environmentally sound LGU in promoting Sustainable Eco -Tourism.

 Ø   Government organizations like DENR, DA, DAR, NIA, other GOs, and NGOs/private organizations should improve coordination and collaboration among themselves for a more effective and efficient delivery of basic and other support services that will lead to environmental protection and Sustainable Development.

 Ø   That the newly elected officials of the local government units of City of Sipalay including the Provincial Government should engage itself in Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change Adaptation and Ecological Based Approaches program so it can reduce risks of communities to disasters brought about by climate related and other natural hazards. We urge the government to resolve the underlying root cause of disasters like irresponsible mining practices, poverty, and corruption.

 Ø   That the National Government should not impose laws and policies that is oppressive to the environment and has an effect on the livelihood, survival, domicile and security of the people but rather would move for the adoption of a more progressive laws geared towards saving the remaining natural heritage in the island.

 Ø   Highly Commend the Provincial Government in improving the much needed  Environmentally Friendly Infrastructures that supports different areas that helps elevating poverty which is primarily the reason why most environmental issues are coming from, especially with the status of Negros Coral Reefs.

SOCIAL

 Ø   Ensure community participation in the whole process (visioning, planning to evaluation) of any development program like the utilization of the Ecological Port in Campomanes Bay.

 Ø   We call for a comprehensive disaster risk reduction program that will prevent and mitigate the effect of floods and landslides brought by the depletion of forest cover and impacts of sea surge or tsunami in Campomanes Bay.

 Ø   That through the collective efforts of the community, they can solve and take actions on the problems they encounter in their everyday lives. That peace and security can be delivered because of their congenial relationship and that the Task Force Ilahas and Bantay Dagat must work hand in hand with the community and the Civil Society Organizations.

CULTURAL

 Ø   We would like to start off in Sipalay the Balay Libro sang Kabataan in cooperation with Maricalum Elementary School and Partner Schools in Bacolod City, which is going to be an Eco-Library that would help the community of Campomanes Bay Area tap the Market of Tourism in making the Area as a venue for education in understanding the importance of Coral Reefs and the linking Ecosystem to our everyday lives.

 Ø   We would like to work with BFAR Sipalay, CENRO Sipalay, and DOT Sipalay in establishing protected areas around its coastal areas - Protected Marine Turtle Nesting Sites, Magrove Forest Reserves, Upland Forest Reserves, River System Reserves, Marine Reserves, Giant Clams Sanctuary. Which recently concluded by discovering a Leather Back Sea Turtle measuring 7ft in length and 4 ft in width – this suggest the significance of the area as a hotspot for biodiversity that requires protection.

 Ø   We commit ourselves to the continuing education and awareness on environment and development issues among the general public. Furthermore, we call for an extensive integration and implementation of environmental education and values for formal (school level) and non formal curriculum including Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.

 Ø   We call for the review of programs and activities of outdoor groups (mountaineering, spelunking, marine camps, etc.) for the integration and promotion of environmental education.

 Ø   Ensure collective efforts towards information campaign on environmental protection through mix media (blog, web base communities, broadcast, print, folk, fora, eco-mountaineering activities, etc.)

 Ø   We commend the efforts of the Local Governments in providing the much needed services (i.e. Hospital, Government Agencies, etc ), we are hoping that this would extended to the remote Indigenous People Communities not only in Sipalay but in the whole island of Negros.

 Ø   Concrete efforts should be made to ensure the sanctity of Indigenous People culture and tradition and the preservation of indigenous knowledge handed down through generations. This very essence of Identity will closely give significance of caring for the environment, as this is considered as the core of what make us everything Negrense.

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Above all, the three day marine camp made us realize that man’s relationship, intervention and outlook has a big impact to the balance of our fragile ecosystem. This inter and intra relationship of the different ecosystems generally affects the life support mechanisms of the planet we live in.

As we realize the human footprint on the natural environment, we should take the responsibility in any activity we do (as individual or group) in our own communities and in the communities we visit and work with and question programs and policies that is a threat to the very existence of our fragile ecosystem. Such that, as we promise to care and preach for the protection of our environment, we realize the need to be models in our own little way.

We appeal to our fellow Negrenses and Filipinos, to strengthen our fraternal bondage and to join our solidarity with nature and to help us attain the objectives and ends as stipulated in this declaration.

We call to the present government administration in both local and provincial levels to come up with a clear Green Agenda for the next 3 year term. That the said Green Agenda went into series of consultation with other stakeholders including the communities, civil society organizations, Church and            others. Further, we call that the said Green Agenda will have emphasis on Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and Ecological Based Approaches.


So be it.