Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu urged the private sector to follow the lead of telecommunications giant PLDT-Smart in contributing to the conservation of peatlands in the country.
Cimatu issued the statement after the DENR, through the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), received additional equipment from PLDT-Smart for the protection and conservation of the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS).
“We are thankful to our partner in the private sector, PLDT-Smart, for this initiative. May this example inspire other companies to pioneer initiatives for the protection of the country’s peatlands,” the environment chief said.
BMB Director Datu Tungko Saikol also expressed his gratitude to PLDT-Smart for helping the DENR in taking care of “one of the world’s important natural heritage”.
“Our frontliners in peatland protection, particularly the Bantay Danao volunteers, need to be properly equipped to be able to respond swiftly and efficiently to enforcement concerns,” Saikol said.
“The lack of protective gears and equipment like drone, camera and GPS as well as communication device, are common constraints in these monitoring, surveillance and enforcement activities.”
“The lack of protective gears and equipment like drone, camera and GPS as well as communication device, are common constraints in these monitoring, surveillance and enforcement activities,” he added.
The DENR-BMB received additional 12 portable radios and 200 vests from PLDT-Smart, on behalf of DENR-Caraga, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office in Agusan del Sur, and the Protected Area Management Office of AMWS.
These equipment will be used to strengthen the enforcement activities of Bantay Danao volunteers in Caimpugan peatland and other peatlands within the AMWS.
The Caimpugan Peat Swamp Forest in AMWS is the largest documented peatland reserve in the country.
It is estimated to store 22.9 million tons of carbon within its 5,487-hectare peatland; thus its protection will prevent the release of millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere.
Peatlands cover only three percent of the Earth’s land surface but they can store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests.
Peatlands cover only three percent of the Earth’s land surface but they can store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests combined if kept wet, making it a globally important ecosystem in terms of carbon sequestration.
It is also a rich ecosystem that supports biodiversity and plays an important role in climate change mitigation.
Currently, there are nine confirmed peatlands in the Philippines, which are listed as part of the tropical peatlands in the ASEAN region.
The DENR pointed out that the crucial role of peatlands in mitigating climate change, as well as the huge costs that arise when these natural carbon sinks are damaged, remains largely overlooked.
The turnover of additional equipment is part of the three-year partnership between the DENR and PLDT-Smart aimed at strengthening conservation activities at the Caimpugan peatland and other peatlands within the AMWS.
The partnership that started in July 2020 also aims to guide PLDT-Smart to achieve its goal of becoming a carbon-neutral company by 2030.