Strategy and Action Plans

In view of the problems and concerns which constantly threaten the future of the country's biodiversity and in consonance with the Convention on Biological Diversity's objectives of conservation, sustainable use, and equitable sharing of the benefits of the country's biodiversity, a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan with modular programs and projects and corresponding resource requirements was formulated.

Six strategies and action plans were developed, anchored on the framework of man being at the center of ecosystems and resource interaction and the need to balance the utilization driven policy which entails modification of biodiversity for human needs with the conservation driven policy for maintaining natural biodiversity.

These strategies and their respective thrusts are as follows:

  1. Expanding and Improving Knowledge on the Characteristics, Uses, and Values of Biological Diversity,
  2. Enhancing and Integrating Existing and Planned Biodiversity Conservation Efforts with Emphasis on In-Situ Activities,
  3. Formulating an Integrated Policy and Legislative Framework for the Conservation, Sustainable Use and Equitable Sharing of the Benefits of Biological Diversity,
  4. Strengthening Capacities for Integrating and Institutionalizing Biodiversity Conservation and Management,
  5. Mobilizing and Integrated Information, Education and Communication (IEC) System for Biodiversity Conservation, and
  6. Advocating Stronger International Cooperation on Biodiversity Conservation and Management.

Strategy I has three thrusts:

    Augmenting knowledge of species and ecosystem diversity,
    Estimating current uses and values of biological diversity, and
    Underscoring the need to hedge for the future.

The generation, expansion and updating of information on the extent of biological wealth is a basic requirement for biodiversity conservation and management planning. The need to characterize species in terms of conservation status, e.g. extinct, threatened, vulnerable, etc., is urgent for prioritizing conservation efforts. To maximize use, knowledge generated should be made accessible. Furthermore, the conventional valuation of the production of biological resources fails to account for depletion and loss of species, degradation of ecosystems, and loss of biological diversity. In most cases, highly valued biological resources are limited to the economically important or those that sustain human life. Bur from an ecological perspective, every species has an ecological niche that is necessary in sustaining other lifeforms. The lack of information on the ecological linkages among species or ecosystems, and hence, their monetary equivalents results in undervaluation and their subsequent degradation.

To some indigenous communities, some biological resources or sites are sacred and a source of cultural identity. This type of value attached to a resource contributes to its preservation or sustainable use. More fundamentally, local communities and especially indigenous peoples have a rich repository of knowledge and practices about the natural environment that contribute to biodiversity conservation. Many of these communities occupy territories, particularly forest areas, that harbor a variety of species. The cultural and spiritual values attached to biological resources by indigenous peoples constitute a part of the worth of these resources.

Wild life forms have been the sources of genes, chemicals, and elements to produce desirable attributes in plants and animals, to concoct drugs and medicines, and to develop products of commercial importance. The value of any living species may be accurately reflected not only in its current use but in its potential use as well.

The strategy contains three major programs, namely Biodiversity Inventory, Ecosystems Mapping and Data Validation, and Socio-Economic Studies.

The Biodiversity Inventory aims to fill the data gap concerning lack of baseline information, some of which are outdated (e.g., flora and fauna) while in others the data available are insufficient (e.g., microbial diversity). Sixteen projects are proposed that runs across the five biodiversity sectors.

Five projects are identified under the Ecosystems Mapping and Data Validation Program which aims to address a major data gap in biodiversity conservation work, i.e., the lack of accurate, updated, ad ground-truthed maps of where the country's biodiversity are located.

The Socio-Economic Studies Program has five major projects. One aims to document and incorporate indigenous knowledge systems and practices on biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, while another project aims to do a valuation and accounting of direct and indirect goods and services from biodiversity and bioresources. The three remaining projects focus on demography and marine resources valuation.

Strategy II has three thrusts, namely:

    Evaluating on-going and identifying in-situ and ex-situ biodiversity conservation and management approaches,
    Consolidating research and development programs for ex-situ and in-situ conservation of biodiversity, and
    Institutionalizing a nationwide network of conservation centers.

Various in-situ and ex-situ conservation programs are being undertaken, even while new one are being proposed and planned. The effectiveness of these programs in conserving biodiversity needs to be evaluated in terms of the preservation, restoration and expansion of habitats, enhancement of the survival of target species, reduction or elimination of the threats to habitat destruction and species loss, among others. Other potential management approaches (e.g., indigenous management practices, ecotourism, and other community-based approaches) in in-situ and ex-situ conservation need to be investigated and incorporated into biodiversity planning. Other areas of research and development badly needed are those on interhabitat connectivity. By consolidating these activities, more focused and rigorous research and development programs can be pursued.

There are two major programs under this strategy: the In-situ Conservation Program and the Ex-situ Conservation Program. Under the In-situ Conservation Program, the protection of habitats is deemed as the most effective way of conserving biodiversity, while rehabilitation and enhancement of damaged and critical habitats are equally important.

The Ex-situ Conservation Programs premised on the following principle: ex-situ conservation will be undertaken only as a last resort and only to complement in-situ conservation efforts. Four projects are proposed.

There are two thrusts under Strategy III, namely:

    Aligning policies governing the utilization of biological diversity by pursuing a systematic policy evaluation, and
    Devising policies that promote proper, sustainable and equitable utilization of biological diversity.

Policy makers and law makers should influence/force resource users to act in consonance with the limits of biological resource regeneration, and indirect users to properly account for the consequences of their activities on the resources and the environment. Environmental and ecological considerations should not take a back seat in favor of development initiatives. Preferential access by indigenous peoples and marginalized users should be explicit and incorporated as a component of resource utilization policies.

Projects proposed under Strategy lll are:

  1. the Codification of Laws Related to Biodiversity;
  2. the Development of a Realistic System of Access Fees, Incentives and Penalties for the Utilization of Biological Resources and Biodiversity;
  3. the Identification, Delineation, and Management of ancestral Domain.

Three proposed activities are also proposed under Strategy lll. One activity is on Policy Advocacy, while another is on the Formulation of Guidelines on Land Use Planning and Biodiversity Conservation and Integration thereof in the Plans of Concerned Agencies. A third activity is in the Assessment of Protected Areas under the Initial Components of NIPAS.

Strategy IV has two thrusts, namely: (1) Integrating the planning, implementation, evaluation and monitoring of biodiversity conservation and management in government and non-governmental sectors, and (2) Strengthening human resource capability in biodiversity conservation and management.

Two programs are proposed. These are the Institutional Capacity Building Program and the Human Resources Development Program.

The Institutional Capacity Building Program aims to identify the required functions of government and nongovernment institutions in biodiversity conservation and management. An assessment of current capacities of these institutions in carrying out such functions shall be done. Areas of weakness will be addressed by projects and activities specified in this program. Three projects and two activities are identified, the most important of which is the creation of a Philippine Biodiversity Center. Two corollary activities are included in this project. One is the establishment of the Philippine Marine Biodiversity Conservation Committee (PMBCC) while another activity is the expansion of the membership of the Subcommittee on Biodiversity of the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development.

The Human Resource Development Program has two projects: one aims to develop the technical capacity in Biodiversity Conservation Planning in the private sector and the other in the government sector.

One principal root cause of environmental degradation is incomplete appreciation of the environment and its biodiversity resources because of the highly "instrumentalized" educational system that deprives students of the opportunity to directly interact with the environment and biodiversity resources. Thus, there is a need to establish a curriculum drafting committee tasked to formulate curricula and develop courses that incorporate biodiversity conservation concerns in secondary and tertiary levels, validate the incorporation of these into existing education programs and pilot test the curriculum in selected schools.

There are four thrust under Strategy V, namely:

  1. Increasing access to updated biodiversity information and database systems,
  2. Institutionalizing community-based biodiversity conservation education and research,
  3. Harnessing traditional and alternative media to increase public awareness and support for biodiversity conservation, and
  4. Encouraging and sustaining advocacy for biodiversity conservation.

Three programs are proposed under this strategy. These are the Biodiversity Conservation Awareness and Information for Local Communities Program, the Community-Based Biodiversity Conservation Education and Research Program, and the Value Added products and Alternative Sustainable Livelihood Development for Bioresources Dependent Communities Program.

Three projects are identified under in the Community-Based Biodiversity Conservation Awareness and Information for Local Communities Program, which aims to build up people's appreciation of the values, attributes, and conservation approaches to biodiversity resources at the community level to ensure people's participation.

Only one project is included under the Value Added Products and Alternative Sustainable Livelihood Development for Bioresources Dependent Communities Program, which aims to help local communities inhabiting biodiversity rich areas find and learn alternative sustainable livelihood and teach them skills to develop value-added products such as commercial processing of wild fruits to produce various types of jams so they have incentives to maintain and protect the natural vegetation. A "menu" of options of proven successful livelihood activities will be offered with due consideration of traditional indigenous knowledge systems.

Three thrusts have been identified for Strategy VI.

These are:

  1. Operationalizing specific country commitments made under the Convention on Biological Diversity and other similar agreements,
  2. Creating institutions to oversee the international coordinated implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and
  3. Strengthening linkages of local non-government organizations with international counterparts for biodiversity conservation.

To fulfill our international commitments, programs and projects have to be developed and implemented, which the Subcommittee on Biodiversity under the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development is mandated to coordinate and oversee. However, the effectiveness of the Subcommittee to fulfill its mandate is hampered by limited membership and insufficient and transient staff. There is a need to expand the membership of the subcommittee to include other stakeholders and the addition of permanent support staff. There is a need for an institutional framework to oversee the implementation of international agreements that will conserve biodiversity in a coordinated manner. An example is the proposal to establish an ASEAN Regional Center for Biodiversity Conservation to be hosted by the Philippines. At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the International NGO Forum (INGOF) was organized by Philippine NGOs by the holding of parallel talks among NGOs from all over the world. These linkages should be enhanced to promote inter-country people-to-people contact and cooperation for biodiversity conservation. The center will serve as the central coordinating body of ASEAN member countries on studies related to the conservation of biodiversity, formulation and implementation of action plans for such, generation of ecological database and information, and the conduct of research and development, training and extension, and consultancy and advisory services.