Manila, Philippines – The implementation of the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Act of 2018 for this year got a boost of PhP 2 billion (or about USD 40.6 million), a part of which was the result of BIOFIN Philippines’ finance solution that aims to mobilize funding for protected areas from the national government. This fruitful initiative was a collaboration between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Office of Congresswoman Josephine Sato, a well-known legislative BIOFIN Champion and partner.
Funding for 107 legislated protected areas was assured by the inclusion of PhP 1.44 billion budget in the National Expenditure Program, and an additional PhP 500 million allocation advocated by the House of Representatives and the Biodiversity Management Bureau of DENR. With BIOFIN support, a Legislators’ Forum convened House representatives and lobbied them to increase the budget for the ENIPAS rollout.
“We, the representatives of the people, having very important protected areas within our respective districts, whether marine or terrestrial national parks, strict nature reserves, protected landscapes or seascapes, cannot simply watch idly by,” Sato speaking to her co-legislators during the forum.
“Needless to say, it is high time for us to be more involved, to more actively participate, not just at the policy level, but equally important, at the financing side as well,” she added.
Befittingly, the Philippine Senate also approved an additional PhP 90-million for Samar Island Natural Park Protected Area's budget.
The ENIPAS Act of 2018
The ENIPAS Act, which was signed into law in 2018, declared 94 national parks as new protected areas, expanding the total to 107 legislated protected areas. A protected area that is legislated puts it under the management of the government, ensuring a regular annual budget for its conservation. The Act allows for the collection of fees and charges from environmental compliance certificate (ECC) and special use permit applications of industries operating within the protected areas and imposes stricter fines for violators. These funds go straight to a trust fund called the Integrated Protected Area Fund (IPAF), which is then channelled back for conservation projects.
Protected Areas’ valuable provisions
Protected areas house unique biological features and ecological values essential to sustain human, plant and animal life and development. Its biological features provide a variety of goods and services to support sustainable development such as food, clean water and air, medicine, protection from the harmful effects of climate change, livelihoods and even psychological health benefits, among others. The economic value of ecosystem services in the Philippines is estimated at PhP 2.3 trillion (USD 46 billion) ranging from timber and fuelwood production, water provision, ecotourism, carbon sequestration, flood prevention, and fishery production, among others. Cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries are among the biggest industries generating substantial revenues from genetic resources. Global sales of pharmaceuticals derived from genetic resources range from USD 75 billion to USD 150 billion. The net present value from bioprospecting of Philippines’ endemic species in closed canopy forests per annum in perpetuity amounts to USD 39.8 million. It is therefore imperative to recognize the critical importance of protecting and maintaining the natural, biological, and physical diversities of the environment that can be found in these areas.
Increasing financing for Protected Areas
Aside from the investment program are two other finance solutions: an awareness raising campaign called the Year of the Protected Areas, and Public-Private Partnerships. An information campaign called the Year of the Protected Areas or YoPA Campaign is a finance solution being implemented by BIOFIN and is underway. Talks with the tourism and interior and local government departments are on-going to iron out details of the said campaign, which will be led by the DENR together with BIOFIN. This finance solution will increase the public’s awareness and appreciation of protected areas and at the same time increase the revenues through protected area visitations – revenues which can be ploughed back to the protection and conservation of these areas.
Equally important, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is a finance solution that taps investments by the private sector in specific protected areas. BIOFIN seeks to develop a refined PPP policy for protected areas in close collaboration with the PPP Center of the Philippines. (BIOFIN Philippines/ Angelique Ogena)