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The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) said it is pushing for the declaration of four locations in Palawan to be “critical habitats.”
These include Calamianes Island as critical habitat of Calamian deer, Balabac as critical habitat of Mouse deer, Barangay Sowangan in Quezon town as critical habitat of crocodiles, and Kanipaan in Rizal town as critical habitat for crocodiles.
Levita Acosta-Lagrada, Project Development Officer IV of the ECAN Regulation and Enforcement Division of the PCSDS, said that critical habitats are areas where threatened species are found outside a declared protected area, according to Section 25 of the Republic Act 9147 also known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
“Kaya po nagkakaroon ng mga critical habitats para sa pagpo-protekta sa kanilang mga tirahan,” she explained.
Kanipaan in Rizal town figured recently in an incident when a fisherman was attacked and killed by a crocodile. It is now declared by the local government unit as a conservation area.
“Itong sa Kanipaan, municipality of Rizal, Palawan, sa ngayon ito ay local conservation area managed by the LGU. May existing napag-aaral na rin na ginagawa itong sa Sowangan, Quezon at susunod na gagawin dito, ang community consultation. Sa Calamian deer naman ay may studies ng ginagawa. Ganun din sa Balabac may studies ng ginagawa at na-declared na flagship species ng Balabac ang mouse deer,” Lagrada said.
The conduct of the research study on the species within the site is part of the process of declaring their respective locations as critical habitats to these wildlife species.
The PCSD will declare a critical habitat in Palawan after several process including studies, consultation, endorsement, boundary demarcation and delineation and other have been conducted.
The said law also provides that a critical habitat shall be designated and its designation shall be based on scientific data.
At present there are two existing critical habitats in Palawan—-Dumaran critical habitat in Dumaran, Palawan covering an area of 1,628 hectares which was declared in 2014, and the most recent is the Cleopatra’s Needle Critical Habitat (CNCH) covering seven barangays in Puerto Princesa City.
CNCH is one of the country’s biggest critical habitats covering an area of 41,350 hectares and Palawan’s second highest peak at 1,593 meters above sea level. CNCH is the country’s oldest and most diverse forest.