LUNA, Apayao – The province is on the preparatory and planning stages for its possible declaration as one of the few local governments in the world to be included in the elite list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s biodiversity site following the documented presence of the endangered Philippine eagle and endemic plant and animal species in its vast forested areas.
Gov. Elias C. Bulut, Jr. said that the proposed inclusion of Apayao in the list of UNESCO biodiversity sites is being done in close coordination with the United States (US) foreign service and other non-government organizations such as the Davao-based Philippine Eagle Foundation that are providing technical assistance to the provincial government in the documentation of the presence of the Philippine eagle and other endemic plant and animal species in the province’s virgin forests.
“We have to closely coordinate with the provincial officials of our neighboring provinces in Abra, Ilocos Norte and Cagayan because the preservation and protection of our virgin forests should not be affected by our political boundaries. Our research teams continue to discover numerous endemic plant and animal species in our forests that is why their job becomes difficult as the days pass by,” Bulut stressed.
The provincial chief executive claimed that 4 employees of the provincial government who went to the United States to undergo the appropriate trainings with the US Foreign Service on how to properly document the Philippine eagle and other endemic plant and animal species in our forests are now providing the technical trainings to people who are interested to provide the manpower support in programmed activities for the province to achieve the inclusion of Apayao in the elite list of UNESCO biodiversity sites.
According to him, the preparatory and planning stages for the inclusion of the province in the elite list of biodiversity sites in the world will take at least 5 years to complete but in the case of Apayao, it seems that it might be longer because of the continuous discovery of endemic plant and animal species that must be provided with scientific names and properly identified for inventory purposes.
Apayao remains to be the last frontier of nature in Northern Luzon because of the hundreds of thousands of hectares of virgin forests where the endangered Philippine eagle nest and where other plants and animals thrive in a good environment.
Bulut admitted the province is now on its third year of preparing for the inclusion of the province in the coveted UNESCO biodiversity list.
He underscored endemic plants and animals thrive in a good environment and the provincial government, in coordination with concerned government agencies and private partners, are taking measures to prevent the encroachments of informal settlers and illegal loggers in the undisturbed forests of the province’s boundaries with Cagayan, Abra and Ilocos Norte.
Bulut is grateful to his counterparts in the neighbouring provinces because of their support to the desire and aspiration of provincial officials for the inclusion of Apayao to the UNESCO biodiversity list within due time to help empower communities to co-exist with nature without compromising its god condition. By HENT