Tubbataha Reef declared Asean Heritage Park
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - November 5, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has formally declared Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) as an ASEAN Heritage Park (AHP).

“A piece of heaven on Earth,” was how Roberto Oliva, ASEAN Center for Biodiversity’s executive director described the park.

The environment ministers of the 10 ASEAN member states approved the nomination at the 15th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment held in October last year.

Known as an “ultimate diving destination,” the park is home to almost 80 percent of all coral species in the Philippines and to at least half of all coral species in the world.

The newly declared AHP has 10,000 hectares of coral reef and at least 86,000 hectares of waters at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the center of global marine biodiversity.

Tubbataha reef was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993.

“We hope we can serve as a role model to other marine natural parks,” Angelique Songco, protected area superintendent of the TRNP, said of the declaration.

Nelson Devanadera, director of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, said the recognition is a welcome development.

“There is a need to highlight Tubbataha not just as a diving site, but as a biodiversity haven that is worth exploring for a total unique experience,” Devanadera said.

He said the declaration is an opportunity to replicate the good practices of Tubbataha in other protected areas in the country.

Mundita Lim – director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau, an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – said the recognition is proof of the country’s rich marine biodiversity.

“This means we need to continue or even intensify protection of the TRNP. Stricter rules should be followed as to activities being undertaken near Tubbataha. Utmost care should be observed,” Lim said.

She expressed optimism more funds would come in for Tubbataha’s protection and conservation. “This just shows that our country is indeed rich in marine resources given the recognition for the TRNP at the regional level,” she said.

The TRNP is the seventh AHP in the country.

Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve in Laguna, Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental, Mt. Iglit-Baco National Park in Mindoro, Mt. Apo Natural Park in Davao, Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park in Bukidnon and Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park in Misamis Occidental are the other AHPs.

 

ACIRC ANGELIQUE SONGCO ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS BIODIVERSITY MANAGEMENT BUREAU CORAL TRIANGLE DAVAO ORIENTAL DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES HERITAGE PARK MINISTERIAL MEETING PARK TUBBATAHA
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