By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda on Monday called for the stricter global implementation of regulations on illegal wildlife trade to protect biodiversity and avoid public health crises.
She made the call as the nation observes the International Day of Forests, with the theme “Forests and Biodiversity.”
Citing various sources, Legarda noted that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which had spread to 192 states and territories, was reported to have originated from the illegal wildlife trade and market in China.
“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,” she said.
Citing a study made by the conservation group World Wildlife Fund, the House leader expressed alarm that the illegal wildlife trade is estimated at around US$20 billion per year.
Legarda,a former senator, is the author of the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 and the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 2018.
She noted that “forests are home to about 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and that more than a billion people depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy, and income.”
She expressed concern that the Philippines is considered as a biodiversity “hot spot” due to the alarming rate of destruction brought about by over exploitation, deforestation, land degradation, pollution, and climate change.
She strongly urged both the private and public sectors as well as the local communities to do their part to protect and conserve 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 said.(Charissa M. Luci-Atienza)