March 22, 2020 Sunday
March 23, 2020 - In observance of the International Day of Forests, with the theme “Forests and Biodiversity,” Deputy Speaker and Antique Congresswoman Loren Legarda urged governments and authorities to put in place and enforce stronger regulations on illegal wildlife trade to protect biodiversity and avoid public health crises such as the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) happening in the country and around the world.
Legarda said that COVID-19 had spread to 192 states and territories while more than 14,000 people have died due to the disease, which various sources reported to have originated from the illegal wildlife trade and market in China.
Legarda cited a study by the conservation group World Wildlife Fund showing that the illegal wildlife trade is worth around 20 billion US dollars per year, contributing to a catastrophic decline in the populations of some species.
“This public health emergency is a reminder of our intrinsic relationship with nature. As we observe the International Day of Forests, let us put a spotlight on the importance of protecting our forests and biodiversity to ensure food and resources for future generations, as well as avoid public health issues,” Legarda said.
Legarda said that forests are home to about 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and that more than a billion people depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy and income. She however noted that the Philippines, although considered as a mega-diverse country in the world, is a biodiversity “hotspot” due to the alarming rate of destruction brought about by overexploitation, deforestation, land degradation, pollution, and climate change.
Legarda, author of the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 and the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 2018, called on governments, organizations, and local communities to strengthen efforts in the protection and conservation of the world’s forests and biodiversity.
“Let us not allow the very foundation of our economies--livelihood, food security, water sufficiency, and health--to further decline. It is our responsibility to protect the delicate balance and relationship of humanity and the environment. Let us sustain life in our forests to provide for the present and future generations,” Legarda concluded.#