Batac: Apayao tagged as UNESCO biosphere reserve

photo courtesy of Provincial Government of Apayao Facebook

The province of Apayao’s forest area was declared a biosphere reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The formal announcement was made during the 36th session of the International Coordinating Council of the Man and Biosphere Programme (ICC MAB) in Agadir, Morocco on Friday (July 5, 2024).

The MAB, set up in the early 1970s, aims to improve the “interaction between people and their natural environment on a global scale,” the UNESCO said.

“Biosphere reserves are places for learning about sustainable development aiming to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with the sustainable use of natural resources,” the UN agency said.

In a short speech posted on the provincial government’s Facebook page on Friday night, Governor Elias Bulut said it is an honor for Apayao, particularly its more than 395,000 hectares of forest area, to be included among the places around the world that are prime examples of sustainable development and biodiversity.

“We hope to inspire other potential learning spaces for conservation and sustainable development in the Philippines and around the world. Together, we strive for our shared mission and responsibility to save and nurture what is left of our natural resources, thereby saving globally endangered species like the majestic Philippine eagle from extinction and protecting our planet from the brink of distinction,” he said in his acceptance speech as he led a delegation of Apayao officials and members of the Technical Working Group of the Apayao Biosphere Reserve to witness the official declaration.

Since 2018, Apayao has been eyeing the UNESCO inscription to further strengthen the conservation and management of Cordillera’s last natural frontier, which is home to the endangered Philippine eagle and rich flora and fauna.

The province is now considered a “science for sustainability support site,” places that are considered as “learning sites” for sustainable development issues.

Apayao is the fourth biosphere reserve in the country after Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro (1977), Palawan (1990) and Albay (2016).

With the UNESCO declaration, provincial tourism officer Rebecca Mamba said more tourists will be lured to visit the province.

Aside from Apayao, 19 other sites have been added to UNESCO’s network of protected biosphere nature reserves.

Among the sites are in Algeria, Canada, Ghana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Portugal, Tanzania and the United Kingdom. (Leilanie Adriano)

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