TEXT ONLY VERSION
The Online Magazine for Sustainable Seas
February, 1998 Vol. 1 No.2
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Special News Section --- Philippine Treasures
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cielito F. Habito, who chairs the PEENRA steering committee, said the draft implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Executive Order 406 (EO 406), which institutionalizes the PEENRA, have been approved. In a meeting last December, the PEENRA steering committee agreed to adopt a framework that is consistent with the system of national acoounts for its compilation of environmental indicators.
Habito however clarified that the environmentally adjusted net domestic product will not be estimated until complete coverage of natural resource accounts is achieved. Until then, he said, environmental accounts will be presented as a satellite to the annual GNP and GDP accounts.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now working on the development of a computerized data management system for PEENRA to facilitate the processing of environment statistics and indicators. The Philippine Star 12.12.97
Harnessing tidal power
In a related development, President Fidel V. Ramos issued last January Executive Order No. 462 (EO 462), which aims to speed up the development and utilization of ocean, solar and wind (OSW) resources -- resources that are renewable and abundant in the Philippines, according to the President -- for power generation and other energy uses. EO 462 is modeled after the already proven production-sharing contract system for petroleum, coal, geothermal and mini-hydro energy resources. The production-sharing contract is limited to lands of the public domain and offshore waters within the Philippine territory, contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone. However, under the EO, the Department of Energy is mandated to regulate energy generation of more than one megawatt from OSW resources in private lands as well as in private-held offshore areas through the existing accreditation systems for power plants. The Freeman, 12.22.97; Manila Bulletin 01.04.98
The CCO includes guidelines for the issuance of permits to import, treat, transport, store and dispose cyanide and its componds. It states that the use and disposal of these chemicals are "strictly limited" to electroplating, mining, metallurgy, steel manufacturing, production of synthetic fibers and chemicals, production of plastics, and "other industry subsectors legitimately using cyanide such as jewelry making."
Violators face administrative and criminal penalties and liabilities, including imprisonment of six months to 12 years and fines amounting to P10,000-P500,000. Foreigners violating the CCO face deportation and the cancelation of their license to do business in the Philippines. The Freeman, 02.06.98
New patrol boats for Philippines coasts
An additional 123 patrol boats are also being considered. AFP in The Freeman 12.22.97
White pebbles smuggle try thwarted
Under a provincial ordinance regulating sand, gravel and quarry resources in Bohol, the export of white pebbles is illegal unless covered by an extraction permit and a certification of quarry resources origin. RV Obedencio in The Freeman, 01.19.98
In the works: Environment Code for Bohol
In a related development, the Bohol Coastal Resource Management Task Force met last January 13 to discuss the development of a coastal environment program for the province. Mel Cimagala, CRMP learning area coordinator in Bohol, told Over Seas that membership of the Task Force has been widened so "we also have partners on the opposite side of the province." The group led activities during last September’s International Coastal Cleanup Day and is expected to again play an active role in the launching of the International Year of the Ocean in the province.
Teaching fishers to fish -- update
The NGO also completed last December a 5-day training workshop on hook-and-line decompression fishing techniques for fishers on Mantatao Island in Calape, Bohol. Mantatao is known as the "cradle of dynamite and cyanide fishing" in the province. Some 90% of fishers here are believed to be engaged in cyanide and dynamite fishing. Mel Cimagala, CRMP’s learning area coordinator in Bohol, related that he would sometimes see dead fish floating near the shore. "When I’d ask people about it, they would tell me that it was the children who were responsible, meaning the children had been playing with cyanide. I would tell them, ‘That’s because you, the parents, use cyanide. The children think they are playing. They don’t know that they are killing their future.’"
Cimagala said the workshop was designed "to show illegal fishers that there is an alternative, that they don’t have to resort to destructive methods in order to catch fish." He noted how the workshop made an impression on some participants. One fisher, he said, was so moved he vowed to stop using destructive fishing methods.
CRMP, along with IMA, will monitor the fishing practices of workshop participants to determine any shift, if at all, to the hook-and-line decompression technique. "The more visible we are, the more the fishers will be encouraged to use this environment-friendly technique," said Cimagala.
What’s good about El Niño
El Niño -- the periodic warming of eastern Pacific Ocean waters -- causes a burst of plant growth throughout the world, and this removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to a study published in the journal Science. David Schimel of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, co-author of the study, said natural weather events, such as the brief warming caused by El Niño, have a much more dramatic effect than previously believed on how much carbon dioxide is absorbed by plants and how much of the gas is expelled by the soils.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide has been increasing steadily for decades. This is thought to be caused by an expanded use of fossil fuels and by toppling of tropical forests. Scientists have linked the carbon dioxide rise to global warming, a phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect. Nations now are drawing up plans to reduce fossil-fuel burning in hopes of reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Those determining how much to reduce fossil-fuel burning, said Schimel, should consider the effects of natural climate variability on the ability of the planet to absorb carbon dioxide. While natural warming events such as El Niño at first cause more carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere, later, within two years, there is an explosion of growth in forests and grasslands, causing plants to more vigorously suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. It is not clear if the warming caused by El Niño causes a net decrease in the build-up of carbon dioxide over the long haul. What the study does show is that the rise and fall of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is strongly influenced by natural changes in global temperature. B.H. Braswell of the University of New Hampshire, another researcher involved in the study, said that in the years when the global weather is cooler than normal, there is a decrease in both the decay of dead plants and in new plant growth. This causes an effect that is the opposite of El Niño warming: carbon dioxide atmosphere levels first decline and later increase.
"I think we have demonstrated that the ecosystem has a lot more to do with climate change than was previously believed," said Braswell. The study, said Stuart Chapin, a University of California Berkeley ecologist, is "a major step forward in providing evidence for mechanisms that explain terrestrial response to climate change." Paul Recer, AP, in Manila Bulletin, 01.04.98
Key dates in the global warming story:
Bongsanglay Mangrove Forest Reserve
The mangrove swamp in Bongsanglay, Batuan, on Ticao Island in the province of Masbate was declared a mangrove forest reserve on December 29, 1981 under Presidential Proclamation No. 2152. Now part of the National Integrated Protection Area System (NIPAS), this forest reserve covers an area of 168 hectares with dense of old growth mangrove, including one mangrove tree believed to be more than a hundred years old. Various shore birds, waders and other animals have been spotted in the area, including little mangrove heron, little egret, reef egret, wandering whistling duck, white-collared kingfisher, Pacific swallow, green-winged ground dove, zebra dove, amethyst brown fruit dove, common coucal, river kingfisher, pied friller, and gray wagtail.
The mangrove used to be part of a large private property, one reason, according to observers, why it has been preserved. There is a small fishing community not too far from the mangrove. DENR's presence and its efforts to involve the community in the protection of the forest and the surrounding waters also help maintain this area's natural abundance.
If you know of any ‘Philippine treasure’ -- mangrove forests, coral reefs, natural beaches, bird sanctuaries, marine sanctuaries, etc. -- and ongoing efforts to protect them (or threats facing them) please send us photos and details, by electronic or conventional mail, so we can share your find with others who are concerned about keeping our oceans and coastal resources sustainable. Our address: CRMP, 5/F CIFC Towers, cor. J. Luna and Humabon Sts, North Reclamation Area, Cebu City 6000, Tel. (32) 232 1821 to 22; Fax (32) 232 1825. E-mail: