In its bid to strengthen the management of protected areas and ensure biodiversity conservation and protection in Cagayan Valley, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is set to establish seven protected area management offices (PAMOs).

This development was announced during the New Year’s Call and 1st Expanded Regional Management Conference held recently in Sta. Ana, Cagayan where DENR Regional Executive Director Atty. Antonio A. Abawag laid down the policy directions for 2020.

Director Abawag delivered the marching orders of Secretary Roy A. Cimatu which include strengthening biodiversity conservation for protected areas alongside environmental law enforcement, forest rehabilitation and protection, and land survey and disposition.

According to the regional environment chief, the DENR will establish seven PAMOs for the legislated protected areas, namely: Batanes Protected Landscapes and Seascapes, Palaui Island Protected Landscape and Seascape and Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape in Cagayan, Tumauini Watershed Natural Park and Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park in Isabela, and Casecnan Protected Landscape, Salinas Natural Monument and Bangan Hill Natural Park in Nueva Vizcaya. These areas cover almost 800,000 hectares.

The DENR will also hire technical personnel to ensure the day-to-day operation of the office.

It can be recalled that in June 2018, Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law Republic Act (RA) 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Act of 2018 which amended RA 7586 otherwise known as the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992.

The Act mandated the creation of a PAMO to be headed by a permanent protected area superintendent “who shall supervise the day to day management, protection and administration of the protected area.” It also orders the provision of a sufficient number of support staff to assist in the management of the area.

During the meeting with DENR key officials regionwide, Director Abawag instructed the field officials having jurisdiction of the said protected areas to facilitate the construction of office buildings for the operationalization of the PAMO.

Other activities to be implemented in the protected areas this year include boundary demarcation, biodiversity assessment and monitoring, habitat protection, survey of registered protected area occupants, ecotourism management, and updating of management plans.#