By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Mining companies should integrate biodiversity conservation into their operations as part of their adherence to the principle of responsible mining.
This was according to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu who reiterated his unwavering support for President Duterte’s resolve to prioritize environmental protection and his nonnegotiable policy against irresponsible mining.
“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.
Citing an international study, which led to the discovery of new mammal species in Luzon, the DENR chief pointed out that the study “has arguably amplified the President’s call to mining companies to strictly comply with existing rules and regulations.”
The study by the Field Museum of Chicago (FMC), titled “Doubling diversity: A cautionary tale of previously unsuspected mammalian diversity on a tropical oceanic island,” involves 56 newly discovered mammal species, 93 percent or 52 of them are found nowhere else in the world.
It was conducted by a team of Filipino and American researchers led by Dr. Lawrence Heany, and was published in the scientific journal Frontier of Biogeography.
Cimatu said that taking a proactive stance on biodiversity conservation efforts being implemented by DENR would “serve well the mining sector in showing its sincerity in its response to the President’s call and goodwill beyond the immediate host communities where they operate.”
He noted that the discovery of additional mammal species in Luzon was a big boost to the new mining policy direction of the Duterte administration, which puts premium on the protection and preservation of the nation’s flora and fauna species and their habitats.
“Integrating biodiversity conservation into their mining project cycle would surely help mining companies restore, possibly to near-original condition, mining-affected forests in the country,” Cimatu said.
He noted that the mining sector would benefit immensely in giving a positive image to the public as such move would “amplify their efforts” to reduce biodiversity loss and provide significant contributions to national and global conservation initiatives.
“We welcome the President’s call for a responsible mining industry, thus we suggest that the mining sector take into account results of scientific studies that reveal significance of wildlife species in maintaining healthy ecosystems,” Biodiversity Management Bureau director Mundita Lim said.
“We urge the mining industry to take this opportunity to take the center stage with us in striking a balance vis-à-vis mining. Our potentials are limitless if we can continue to conserve and sustainably manage our biodiversity, and at the same time, we are still able to pursue development of our extractive industries,” she added.
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