DENR to establish critical habitat in Boracay

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is coming up with an administrative order establishing a 750-hectare critical habitat for threatened species within the world-famous resort island of Boracay.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu announced this following a recent meeting with representatives of Boracay resorts and other businesses, who have expressed their full support behind the establishment of the critical habitat area.

“We shall establish the Boracay Island Critical Habitat to protect and conserve the forests and coastal marine areas located in barangays Balabag and Yapak, which serve as habitat of colonies of the flying foxes, the nesting grounds of marine turtles, and the nascent corals sprouting in the reef,” Cimatu said during the meeting held at the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) training center in Quezon City.

According to the environment secretary, the creation of a critical habitat is a testament to the DENR’s “commitment to bringing back Boracay’s robust ecology.”

“It shall provide a platform for a community driven ecosystem management approach that guarantees the collective participation of local government units, business sector, people’s organizations, private land owners, thereby integrating biodiversity conservation as part of the island’s development planning process, and way of life of the people,” he added.

The former military chief promised that he will not allow further degradation of the ecosystems and species within the island, which is “dependent on its biodiversity for water, soil stabilization, food and as a tourist attraction.”

Among those present at the meeting were representatives of Seven Seas Waterpark and Resort, Alta Vista Boracay, Movenpick Resort and Spa, Shangri-la Boracay, Costa Vista Boracay, Mabuhay Maritime Express and Resort, San Miguel Corp., Boracay Business Administration of Scuba Shops, Crimson Resort and Spa, and Boracay Property Holdings.

Former BMB Director Theresa Mundita Lim, now Executive Director of the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, said the establishment of critical habitat will help protect several species in the area, including the endangered golden-crowned flying fox (Acerodon jubatus), which can only be found in the country.

“Some of the species, such as the common Asian ghost bat (Megaderma spasma) that live inside the surveyed caves, feed on mosquitoes and other insects which lessen diseases such as malaria and dengue,” said Lim, who is a licensed veterinarian.

Also found in the area are other species of flying foxes, such as the greater flying fox (Pteropusvampyrus) and the island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus); and coastal and marine species like the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the endangered green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). 

There were also sightings of the Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) and Olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) in the area.

“Some of the caves that were surveyed revealed that there are already species inhabiting the vicinity,” she added.

There are also several threatened flora like molave (Vitexparviflora); Bantigi (Pemphis acidula), and Pitogong dagat(Cycas edentata) that can be found in three types of forests in Boracay.

“The BMB will be doing a ground validation together with the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority or NAMRIA to set the boundaries on the critical habitat as soon as the department order is signed,” Lim said.

The establishment of a critical habitat is pursuant to Republic Act No. 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. ###

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