Asean: Biodiversity conservation through protected area legislation*

First of 2 parts




The Manila Times


ACLOSE look at the laws of the Asean countries would readily reveal the intricate mosaic of legal systems in existence in the region. It is not simply a choice between common law or civil law or a mixture of both. While one system is founded on Islamic or Hindu law, a few others share traditions of British law superimposed upon Islamic foundations, modified by modern indigenous legal innovations. Others have indigenized eclectic legal systems which have integrated concepts from American, Spanish, Indian and French legal systems. Intricate as it is, the mosaic is even more elaborate when seen in detail, with a great variety of ethnic and customary law. Despite the diversity in legal cultures owing to the differences in population, territories, history and government, environmental law, i.e., protected area legislation, suits all legal systems in the light of the present worldwide concern about the conservation of biological diversity brought about by significant loss in habitats and of species used for food, medicines, industry, etc., to cope with the rising consumption and thoughtless demands for economic growth. The establishment and maintenance of national protected areas are essential for two of the most urgent environmental concerns these days: biodiversity conservation and resilience to climate change. The CBD In 1993, a new international treaty or multilateral environmental agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity Conservation (CBD), entered into force. It is the first time that concerns for biological diversity are expressed in a binding instrument at the level of the globe and recognized as a common concern for humanity. The convention calls for, among others, the establishment of a system of protected areas, elaborating national strategies and plans, integrating biodiversity concerns into other sectors and controlling activities which may have significant negative impacts on biodiversity, expanding the use of environmental impact assessment procedures, and promoting research training, public education and awareness. The Asean Center for Biodiversity located at UP Los Baños, Laguna records protected areas in the Asean region distributed as follows: Brunei Darussalam (28); Cambodia (21); Indonesia (1,034); Laos (17); Malaysia (196); Myanmar (3); Philippines (247); Singapore (11); and Vietnam (53). Laws on protected areas The Philippines’ National Integrated Protected Areas Law (Nipas), or RA 7586 (1992), contains provisions that serve as the mechanism through which the implementation of the national protected areas program, in general, is harmonized at the national level. Among its salient features are: 1) new classification of protected areas (i.e., protected seascapes and landscapes, natural monuments, natural biotic areas, resource reserves, etc.); 2) strict requirements on management plans; 3) delineation of types of allowed activities within a protected area and those which may be regulated through special permits; 4) provision of safeguards (zoning, environmental impact assessment and procedures for agency review of permit applications; 5) recognition of ancestral lands within protected areas and customary rights over them; and 6) direct participation by local people in protected area management. Furthermore, the Nipas Law adopts a two-tiered management plan. There is a general management planning strategy on the first level to serve as a guide in formulating individual plans for each protected area. The onsite plan on the second level effectively addresses peculiar situations in the area. It also affords more direct participation by the private sector in management and planning through the management board. Most important of all, participation by indigenous people and other local communities is included in the management scheme. Community benefits from the protected area in the form of livelihood sources are essential to the successful management of protected areas. For a more effective administration and management, private sector and local government participation was given much thought and consideration. The management board takes the role of local protected area administrator. Likewise, the creation in the DENR regional office called the Protected Areas and Wildlife Division helps solve the problem of lack of priority and interest in protected area management. To be continued on Sunday, August 7, 2022. *2002 is the Year of Protected Areas to commemorate the 90th year of establishment of the national parks system in the Philippines by virtue of the “1932 National Parks Act” (RA 3915).