Cimatu: PH ready to lead ASEAN in migratory species conservation

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the Philippines is ready to lead efforts in the ASEAN region to protect migratory wildlife species throughout their range and across national borders.

Cimatu made the statement as the country plays host to the 12th Session of Conference of Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), which has been dubbed as the world’s largest wildlife conference in 2017.

This marks the first time the CMS meeting, which runs from October 23 to 28 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City, is held in Asia. More than 1,000 delegates from over 120 countries are attending the event.

“As host of this triennial COP meeting, and this being touted as the most attended ever for the CMS, the Philippines will consider this event a great opportunity to show to the ASEAN community and the rest of the world the importance of the country and the region in protecting migratory species and safeguarding their habitats throughout their journey and range,” Cimatu told a press conference held last Monday.

As the only ASEAN country that is party to the CMS, Cimatu said the Philippines needs to work harder to ensure that the region’s migratory species and the habitats critical to their survival are protected.

“Right now, we are the only member-state in the ASEAN region, that’s why we are encouraging other members to join the CMS,” Cimatu said.

At the same time, the environment chief said the Philippines remains committed to combating illegal trade and trafficking of wildlife species, including those that are endemic to other countries.

“We know that while some terrestrial animals like elephants do not exist in our country, their by-products and derivatives find their way here, which makes it imperative for us to join the fight against wildlife trafficking and illegal trade,” he pointed out.

In the same press conference, CMS Executive Director Bradnee Chambers underscored the importance of international cooperation, especially among CMS party-nations, to ensure the survival of migratory species.

“By their very nature, migratory species— be it avian, terrestrial, and aquatic—need international efforts to ensure their survival. They face threats that can be best addressed through international cooperation,” Chambers said.

For her part, Director Theresa Mundita Lim of the Biodiversity Management Bureau expressed hope the country’s hosting of the CMS meeting will help encourage other government agencies to support the DENR in estimating the value of the country’s wildlife resources, as well as the economic losses caused by wildlife trafficking and illegal trade.

“It’s about time that we account the services that the wildlife gives to the Filipino people, not just its value when it is sold or eaten,” Lim said.

“The value should be based on the sustainability of the businesses and other development activities in the country,” she added.

CMS is the only global intergovernmental treaty established exclusively for the conservation and management of terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. #

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