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Archive for the ‘Initiatives’ Category

Invitation to the Biodiversity Forum

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60-earth-hour

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“Over the past two decades, the Abuan River has been a highway for contraband wood logged in the precious forests of the Sierra Madre . Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bugadors skilled in the ways of a treacherous river have made their living here, braving the rocky currents to supply narra, lauan and other precious wood species to Isabela’s famed furniture industry. But the trade has long been illegal and is wreaking havoc on what is one of the planet’s most valuable forest ecosystems. It became an established trade and livelihood because no one before Padaca has seriously tried to stop it. As her task force rounds up the wood, she is under pressure from other politicians in the province to just let it go for another year.”

Howie Severino blogs about his team’s foray into the Sierra Madre, observing Isabela governor and 2008 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Grace Padaca as she went after illegal logging activities happening in the  Abuan River.  The result is a documentary airing on I-Witness Monday midnight (Philippine time, a day or two later on Pinoy Tv overseas): Si Gob at ang mga Bugador.

Read his full post here.

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The July 7/14 issue of Newsweek featured Yale University’s 2008 Environmental Performance Index (EPI)—“a global ranking of nations with the best, and worst, environmental track records,” the magazine cover said. Curious as to how the Philippines fared, and wanting to find out the “who’s who” in the best and worst around the world, I bought a copy after briefly browsing through the contents (and initially finding out the Philippines scored somewhere between the range of 79.99 to 70, with 100 being highest).

I learned after poring over the special report, and reading further from Yale’s website, that the EPI sought to be a comprehensive yardstick of the world’s environmental issues and how each country was responding to them. Although considering the EPI as far from being entirely an accurate measure of national performance, Newsweek stated it as the “best measure we have of how nations are faring in the battle to save the environment…” The EPI provided measures for two objectives, specifically: (1) reducing environmental stresses to human health, and (2) promoting ecosystem vitality and sound natural resource management. It used 25 performance indicators which were tracked in 6 well-established policy categories such as climate change, biodiversity and habitat, water, air pollution, productive natural resources, and environmental health.
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(Polillo, Quezon)… The Polillo Group of Islands, also known as the Pollillo Archipelago, is probably unknown to many because of its isolation from the mainland of Luzon. Facing the Pacific Ocean, 25 kilometers east of Luzon, the archipelago is usually only heard of during news updates of weather disturbances. This group of islands is comprised of 27 islands and islets belonging to five municipalities: Polillo, Burdeos and Panukulan, which occupy the mainland, and the two island municipalities of Patnanungan and Jomalig .

The island got its name from the Chinese “Pu-li-lu”, which means “an island with plenty of food.” It is an apt name because aside from the abundance of seafood, the islands also boast of amazing terrestrial resources some of which can be found nowhere else in the Philippines, much less the whole world. This richness has drawn a lot of interest in the scientific community, and numerous scientific studies have been conducted in this part of the country since early last century.

About a three-hour boat ride from the municipality of Real in Quezon, the Polillo towns are typically rural, with no permanent and regular public utility buses and jeepneys plying the routes from one municipality to the other, and the road system not yet well established. The most common mode of transportation is by boat and many residents have to settle for motorcycles as inland transportation. Only few of the settlers here own vehicles, although a lot of houses especially at town centers have already been renovated into big bungalows.

The environment here is quite peaceful and simple with not much opportunities for nightlife. Electricity is available only between two o’clock in the afternoon to six o’clock the following morning. Simple as it may the lifestyle may be, the Polillos have much more to offer, which many of its residents are even unaware of, and these are the rich biological resources found in this part of the country.

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[Press release – Conservation International-Philippines]

New species of animals and plants were recently discovered by a team of biologists who conducted a biodiversity survey in Mt. Mantalingahan, Palawan last June and July 2007. The survey was organized by Conservation International – Philippines to update the biodiversity data of Mt. Mantalingahan, a proposed protected area covering 120,000 hectares. Members of the team include representatives from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS), South Palawan Planning Council (SPPC), Western Philippines University (WPU), Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Katala Foundation, Municipality of Rizal, Barangay Ransang, and indigenous peoples’ groups.

Unidentified shrew

The Philippines has not had a new species of shrew discovered for the past 40 years or so, until this still undescribed species was discovered on Mt. Mantalingahan this year (photo© CI, D.S. Balete).

“All I was looking forward to when we started this survey was to rediscover some of the small mammals that were first discovered and described from Mt. Mantalingahan but had not been seen for almost five decades now,” related Danny Balete, a mammal specialist who is part of the survey team. On the very first day of the survey, working at their first study site at 1,550 meters above sea level (masl), the team already had two remarkable finds. “This survey has been amazingly successful. The Palawan soft-furred mountain rat, Palawanomys furvus, that they have rediscovered has not been seen since it was first discovered in 1962,” said Dr. Lawrence Heaney, curator of mammals at the Field Museum in Chicago and long-time researcher in the Philippines. The team also discovered a new species of shrew that probably lives only in the high mountains of Palawan.

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