Deputy Head of Mission Michael Hasper of the German Embassy in the Philippines visited the province of Batanes on a two-day tour on 15-17 May 2017, joining the occasion of handover of an area management plan to Governor Marilou Cayco.
To see firsthand the abundance of biodiversity, Mr. Hasper hiked the trail of Mt. Iraya, a strict protection zone, and visited an existing marine protected area in Basco as well as two proposed marine protected areas in the neighboring island of Sabtang. He was impressed by the traditional fishing rules and regulations passed on by several generations of fishermen in Diura.
The management plan has been updated after 16 years in order to address current biodiversity and ecotourism issues and the need to maintain the unique biodiversity in Batanes and its value for sustainable tourism. The plan now serves as a useful reference and is harmonized with other important plans such as municipal plans (Comprehensive Land Use Plan), Provincial Physical Framework and Development Plan, Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plans and others.
It has taken a joint effort of various stakeholders to update the plan, receiving significant contributions from the provincial government, municipal government, non-governmental organizations such as the Batanes Heritage Foundation, Inc., Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and private sector. More importantly, it has been supported over the past two years by the PAME Project.
The PAME Project is jointly implemented by the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) GmbH, and financed by the Philippine and the German governments, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).
The Batanes Protected Landscape and Seascape is one of 240 protected areas collectively known as the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) in the Philippines. The PAME Project has been supporting the enhancement of the management of at least 60 NIPAS areas all over the country, helping to enhance protection of the natural wonders of the Philippines. In addition, the establishment of at least 100 new protected areas are ongoing. (PAME/ Berthold Schirm, Project Principal Adviser)