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NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Despite widespread calls for environmental conservation and preservation across various regions of the Philippines, the trend toward climate change continues to worsen over time.
Pierre Gabriel San Jose, a 24-year-old biologist, is among those advocating for environmental preservation. In an interview with Rappler, he emphasized the crucial role of young people in supporting activities that protect and conserve the environment.
“Since we are on the verge of a climatic catastrophe, our condition is difficult right now. Young people should grow to love Mother Nature since it is all we have,” he said.
He added, “Young people should act as eco-warriors who are assertive to stand up for the preservation of biodiversity and demand that those responsible for the declining state of nature’s climate take responsibility for their actions.”
San Jose highlighted the youth’s potential to lead initiatives in environmental management and emphasized their responsibility to preserve the natural resources.
He said young people can join various environmentally inclined organizations, whether school-based or non-governmental organizations (NGOs), contributing to the overarching goal of sustainable environmental development.
San Jose, who developed a passion for environmental conservation at the age of 9, is the son of Pierre Francis and Maria Elena, both of whom work for the Provincial Environment and Management Office (PEMO) of Negros Occidental.
Reflecting on his environmental assessments in Kabankalan City, San Jose noted the city’s 13 local conservation areas (LCAs) are closely monitored by PEMO and the local government. LCAs include a coastal wetland, a freshwater ecosystem, and 11 patches of forest and forest plantations.
San Jose stressed the vital role of LCAs in preserving plant and animal diversity, ensuring ecosystem stability, and protecting critical habitats. He underscored the urgency of supporting and protecting these areas to maintain biodiversity, essential for ecological resilience and adaptation to environmental changes.
Kabankalan City, heavily affected by Typhoon Odette in 2021, experienced severe flooding, emphasizing the urgent need for environmental protection.
San Jose warned that if environmental protection continues to be a low priority, the negative impacts on the environment will intensify, affecting all living things, including humans.
Highlighting the interconnected nature of environmental issues, San Jose called for collaborative efforts among youth organizations, governments, non-governmental organizations, communities, and individuals. He emphasized that collaboration is essential for effective and impactful environmental initiatives.
San Jose cited the endangered status of endemic bird species in Negros, such as the Negros bleeding-heart pigeon, Visayan Hornbill, and Walden’s Hornbill, underscoring the need for enhanced wildlife protection and conservation efforts.
Recently, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the provincial government of Negros Occidental partnered to secure funding for the preservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
Dr. Selva Ramachandran, resident representative of UNDP-Philippines, highlighted the partnership’s goal to address biodiversity threats, enhance conservation efforts, and promote sustainable tourism at the local government level.
The collaborative efforts aim to contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and improve the lives of communities in the province.
“We envision this partnership to address biodiversity threats at the local government unit level, enhance conservation efforts, and promote sustainable tourism. We aim for this to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and ultimately to the betterment of the communities’ lives in the province,” she said. – Rappler.com