4 protected areas in Central Luzon proposed to be included in the ASEAN heritage list

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, March 31 (PNA) — Four of the 35 protected areas in Central Luzon are being proposed to be included in the list of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) heritage parks.

DENR regional director Francisco Milla, Jr. said that executive director Robert Oliva of the Los Banos-based ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB), together with other biodiversity and conservation experts have conducted an initial assessment on the proposed ASEAN heritage parks in the region, namely the Biak na Bato National Park in Bulacan, Mt. Arayat National Park in Pampanga, Bataan Natural Park and Roosevelt Protected Landscape, also in Bataan.

Milla said that among the stringent criteria in order to be declared as ASEAN heritage parks include “it is ecologically complete, that is, different ecosystems are represented; its conservation is “highly important”; it is documented as a conservation area; and has an approved management plan.”

Once approved, he said those protected areas will receive international funding support from ASEAN member countries to further promote their conservation and protection.

“The Philippines is a mega diverse country, but it is also one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. We can reverse this trend by promoting greater public awareness and cooperation in the protection and conservation of our protected areas,” he said.

He said the 35 protected areas in Central Luzon covers a total of 341,430 hectares.

ACB is a regional project that promotes conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of such biodiversity in the ASEAN region.

The project has been facilitating cooperation and coordination between and among the members of the ASEAN, relevant national governments, and regional and international organizations since 1999. (PNA)