DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Biodiversity conservation regulations should be mandatory and not voluntary to all mining firms operating in the country, an environmental advocacy group said on Tuesday, Aug. 1.
Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, slammed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu after he told miners in the country to integrate biodiversity conservation into their operations.
“Responsible mining companies should seek not merely to minimize and mitigate but, where possible, to enhance the biodiversity in areas where they operate,” Cimatu said in a statement.
But Bautista expressed doubt in Cimatu’s order to mining firms, saying the DENR chief was “foolhardy to think that so-called ‘responsible mining’ companies will voluntarily adhere to the conservation standards proposed in the 2016 Field Museum of Chicago study entitled Doubling diversity: A cautionary tale of previously unsuspected mammalian diversity on a tropical oceanic island.”
The FMC study involves 56 newly discovered mammal species, 93 percent or 52 of them are found nowhere else in the world.
Kalikasan-PNE reported that the FMC study explained that “sky island” habitats provided by the mountains of the Luzon islands led to the flourishing of such a high biological diversity, as species adapt to very specific environments.
The study’s proponents noted that allowing the native forest to regenerate will encourage endemic species, which comprised 95 percent of the FMC study’s 56 newly discovered mammal species, to return to the rehabilitated environment.
“Past administrations have tried and failed to ‘urge’ the industry to engage in honest-to-goodness biodiversity conservation to no avail,” Bautista said.
“Cimatu’s recent statements also reveal his perception of biodiversity conservation as mere ‘greenwashing’ for mining companies to give a ‘positive image to the general public.’ Such a perspective fails to grasp the importance of biodiversity conservation in developing related sectors such as research and development, medical research, and even industrial innovations,” he added.
Bautista also pointed out that since the country has 228 key biodiversity areas covering 6,008,813 hectares, “it is impossible for the current setup and scope of the large-scale mining industry not to overlap with the country’s biodiversity corridors.”
“The large-scale mining industry will have to undergo a complete overhaul in its industrial development framework, tenurial instruments, technology, community development, and other management practices if we are to ‘mainstream’ biodiversity conservation in the industry,” Bautista said.
With this, the environmental group said that in order to mainstream biodiversity conservation, “Cimatu should immediately enforce the closure, suspension of the big mines until such a time when stricter biodiversity conservation regulations are passed and enforced.”
The group also called on the government to fast-track the passage of a new mining law that seeks to reorient the mining industry towards ensuring “national industrialization, environmental protection, and people’s rights and needs.”
“It should prioritize the passage of House Bill 2715 or the People’s Mining Bill, which contains a comprehensive blueprint for the radical reorientation of the mining industry away from its ‘business as usual’ path towards a more rational utilization of our mineral resources,” Bautista said. (davaotoday.com)