|National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS)|
Republic Act 7586 otherwise known as the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992 provides the legal framework for the establishment and management of protected areas in the Philippines. The Law defines protected areas as the identified portions of land and/or water set aside by reason of their unique physical and biological significance, managed to enhance biological diversity and protected against destructive human exploration. The establishment and management of protected areas are part of the international commitments signed by the Philippine Government such Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar Convention, World Heritage Convention, Convention on Migratory Species, and the ASEAN Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
The implementation of the NIPAS Act is currently on its 19th year. It is implemented originally through DENR Administrative Order No. 25, Series of 1992. The said DENR Administrative Order was amended pursuant to DAO 2008-26 dated 24 December 2008. This Administrative Order sets the procedures for the establishment, administration, management and development of the System.
The NIPAS Act identified 202 initial components comprising of proclaimed national parks, game refuge and wildlife sanctuaries, nature reserves, wilderness areas, mangrove reserves, watershed reservations, fish sanctuaries, protected landscapes and seascapes, among others prior to the effectivity of the NIPAS Act. The identified initial components of NIPAS cover an approximate area of 2.57 million hectares. These areas will be maintained as part of the NIPAS until such time that they are finally assessed as to their suitability for inclusion to the System. There are one hundred twelve (112) protected areas formally proclaimed by the President under the System covering 3.54 million hectares. Seventy (70) out of the 112 are initial components with an area of 1.97 million hectares and forty-two (42) additional areas with an area of 1.57 million hectares. Of the 112 proclaimed protected areas, 29 are marine protected areas with a total area of 1.37 million hectares while 83 are terrestrial protected areas covering an area of 2.17 million hectares.
Nine (9) of the initial components and four (4) additional areas have specific laws for their establishment under the System. These are Batanes Island Protected Landscape and Seascape-R2, Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park-R2, Mts. Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape-R4A, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park-R4B, Mt. Kanla-on Natural Park-R6, Sagay Marine Reserve-R6, Central Cebu Protected Landscape-R7, Mimbilisan Protected Landscape-R10, Mt. Kitanglad Range Protected Area-R10, Mt. Malindang Natural Park-R10, Mt. Apo Natural Park-R11, Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary-R11 and Bangan Hill Natural Park-R2.
In terms of administration, the NIPAS Act requires the creation of respective Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) which is a multi-sectoral and decision making body for each of the protected area established under the NIPAS. As of June 2011, there are one hundred seventy-eight (178) protected areas with organized/appointed Management Boards: 97 PAs with PAMB are proclaimed under the NIPAS (65 PAs are initial components and 32 PAs are additional areas). Out of the 97 proclaimed PAs with PAMB, 2 are under the management of Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and City Government of Puerto Princesa, 1 is under the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB). On the other hand, out of the 178 protected areas with PAMB, 73 protected areas are unproclaimed initial components and 8 are proposed areas for proclamation under the NIPAS.
With regard to the financing of the System, there are one hundred and forty-nine (149) protected areas with established Integrated Protected Area Fund (IPAF), of which 95 protected areas have active IPAF collections and utilization. As of June 2011, a total income of Php 204,824,951.22 has been generated by the System. On the same period, a total amount of Php 127,212,987.51 was utilized.
Furthermore, there were sixty-eight (68) support policies issued by the DENR including the newly approved Revised IRR of the NIPAS Act.
In recognition of the importance of the biological diversity of the Philippines, several protected areas have been designated as World Heritage Sites (Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park), Ramsar Sites (Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Naujan Lake National Park, and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park), Transboundary Protected Areas (Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary) and the ASEAN Heritage Parks (Mt. Apo Natural Park, Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park and Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park).