Determined to ensure the continuity of the government's wildlife conservation and protection efforts, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is capitalizing on information technology to educate the public on the importance of protecting the environment and wildlife species amid the continuing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the addition of two online learning platforms "enables the DENR to uphold its mandate of educating the people about the country’s wildlife resources despite the prevailing COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic."
"Thanks to technology, we are able not only to communicate remotely, but also make sure that the Filipinos can continue to educate themselves about the environment, especially in protecting our wildlife species," Cimatu said.
He is grateful to the DENR's partner-organizations as "these breakthroughs would not be possible without their help."
The DENR, through the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), unveiled the eTraining Course on Basic Wildlife Law Enforcement (BWLE) and the Wildlife Philippines podcast of the Project on Combating Environmental Organized Crime in the Philippines of the Asian Development Bank/ Global Environment Facility and the International Technical Assistance Program-Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Project 3 of the US Department of the Interior, respectively, during the World Wildlife Day Celebration last March 3.
The BWLE training course, which can be accessed at https://elearn.adb.org, is composed of seven modules with 19 stand-alone topics.
Through the modules, participants are be introduced to various topics that include Wildlife Law Enforcement in the Philippines; Species Commonly involved in Wildlife Crimes; Substantive Laws on Wildlife Resources Protection; Other Crimes against Wildlife; Roles and Responsibilities of Government Agencies in Wildlife Law Enforcement; and Procedural Laws on Wildlife Resources Protection.
The interactive module topics come complete with graphics, gamification, reference documents and articles that learners can download and review offline. The course contents are based on the consolidated Law Enforcement Training Modules, Wildlife Law Enforcement Manual of Operations, and Basic Wildlife Law Enforcement Training Modules, with some incorporated developments by the DENR and other wildlife experts.
Meanwhile, the Wildlife Philippines podcast was developed through the collaboration of more than 20 higher education institutions under their Institutes of Environmental Governance. The podcast provides educational trivia and important facts about biodiversity conservation and wildlife protection to educate on and raise awareness of the country’s biodiversity, environmental challenges and best practices. Learners can access the Wildlife Philippines podcast through Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.
BMB also announced the implementation of an automated system for the issuance of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permits through eCITESPH soon. The system would be eventually linked to or integrated into the Philippines national single window system for trade facilitation. CITES works by subjecting international trade of threatened animal and plant species to certain controls--import, export re-export and introduction from the sea.
BMB OIC and Assistant Director Amelita Ortiz said the system would "improve control of international trade in endangered species."
"With the automation of CITES permits, and the use of modern information and communication technologies to simplify compliant trade, we will strengthen CITES implementation to combat illegal trade," Ortiz said.
She explained that the automation of CITES processes would help "enforce regulations, increase transparency, facilitate processing and electronic data exchange with customs and other agencies, and reduce opportunities for corruption and the use of fraudulent documents."
"Electronic information exchange with other countries will put an end to current practices using fraudulent paper permits to launder illegal trade in endangered species in the international supply chain," she added. (CIWT/ Garie Rigor, Jr.)