The Province of Albay’s unique natural resources is among the 20 new sites added by the United Nations’ top cultural body UNESCO to its World Network of protected biosphere reserves.
Albay, which covers about 250,000 hectares of biosphere, has joined the 669 sites in 120 countries.
The International Coordinating Council has conferred its inclusion during its meeting in Lima, Peru on Saturday.
“ This is something we should be proud of. We have to marry inclusive growth with eco-tourism and care for natural resources,” Albay Governor Joey Salceda told the EnviroNews.
UNESCO described the Province of Albay as “ the terrestrial elevation of the site culminates at 2,462 meters and its marine part reaches a depth of 223 meters below sea level. The site’s high conservation value is constituted notably by its 182 terrestrial plant species, 46 of which are endemic. Its marine and coastal ecosystems number 12 species of mangrove, 40 species of seaweed or macro-algae, and 10 species of sea grass. Five of the world’s seven species of marine turtles are to be found in Albay. Agriculture is the main source of income in this area.”
In his acceptance speech in Lima, Salceda said the inclusion of Albay is “an ecological marker of excellence and as a challenge to our community.”
For the Philippines, Salceda said, it is the first for the main island of Luzon with 73 percent of the GDP, 56 percent of population and 43 percent of the land area. ” We consider it as our country’s modest contribution to the inter-generational transfer of resources to the future of the Philippines and the future of everyone.”
” We in Albay are deeply committed nationally and internationally, to climate change mitigation and adaptation. For these reasons, we believe we can contribute greatly to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves and the robust implementation of the recently adopted Lima Declaration and Action Plan,” Salceda said.
He added that as a former co-chair of the Green Climate Fund, the concept of cultural heritage as fundable activity for adaptation and biosphere for the greenhouse gas emissions was included. The GCF has now raised $usd 10.4 billion which can be mobilized for sites in developing countries determined by UNESCO.
Albay joined two other Biosphere Reserves found in the Philippines: Puerto Gallera which was declared in 1977 and Palawan in 1990.
Biosphere Reserves are places for learning about sustainable development aiming to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with the sustainable use of natural resources.