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Bacolod City, PhilippinesMonday, June 22, 2009

Neg.Occ. to celebrate
Environment Week ‘09

The Provincial Environment Week celebration in Negros Occidental kicks off today following a Mass and opening ceremonies at the Negros Occidental Multi-Purpose and Activity Center, at the Provincial Administration Center in Bacolod City.

Led by the provincial government, with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and various civil society groups and academic institutions, this year’s environment week carries a timely and probably the most appropriate theme with the current conditions, “Global Warming, If You Care, Do Your Share”. Negros Occidental commemorates environment week every third week of June, in time when the whole country also marks the Environment Month.

During the opening ceremonies, which will be attended by local and national officials, the green campus and business project will likewise be launched. This project is aimed at promoting environmentally friendly business ventures and activities in different school campuses throughout the province. Today’s activities also include a conference on Building Consensus on Localizing Action for Climate Change of the Vice Mayors League at the Goldenfield Kundotel, and simultaneously the opening of the biodiversity tour at the Biodiversity Conservation Center of the Negros Forest and Ecological Foundation and the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, as well as the opening of the market fair at the Robinson’s Place.

Photo exhibits and a waste market fair will also open for the public at SM Mall, while a forum on climate change will be held at La Consolacion College and Governor’s Conference Room between 2 and 5 p.m. today.

The public is invited to join the provincewide upland tree-planting and coastal clean-up tomorrow and Wednesday, respectively. Several other activities are lined up during the week-long celebration, which are all intended to remind that caring and protecting our environment is indeed everyone’s responsibility. This is a very important rejoinder to all Negrenses in as much that in spite of so many efforts, Negros as an island ecosystem is still in critical state and considered as a biodiversity hotspot of the Philippines.

The remaining natural forest of Negros is getting limited and had become fragmented habitats of many wildlife species that are only known to occur in the island and nowhere else in the world.  Similarly, the mangrove forest is very minimal, while the once pristine coral reefs are already in various stages of degradation. Habitat and forest restoration has been so difficult, because a large area of Negros’ forestlands are already converted into other land uses, particularly human settlement and industrial and intensive agricultural development.  One resulting impact of forest denudation is the deterioration of major watersheds and other ecological services.

One of the most pressing environmental concerns we are facing today is the phenomenon of global warming and climatic change in various parts of the world. It is very timely that the organizers of the environment week commemoration in Negros Occidental have adopted the theme on climate change, because although it is a global phenomenon, local initiatives are important to minimize the impacts of this ecological disaster.

Aside from greenhouse gases emitted from the use of fossilized fuels, other human activities also contribute to global warming, such as improper agricultural practices and solid waste disposal.  The open dumping of soil wastes creates emission especially when the disposed materials start to decompose, because the gas it emits is methane, which is much hazardous to the ozone layer compared to carbon. I am not sure if some sugarcane plantations are still burning the cane trashes after harvesting, since it similarly contribute to carbon emission and concentration in the atmosphere. Slush-and-burn farming and deforestation further contribute to global warming.

As a gesture of solidarity to the campaign in saving the environment from global warming, the public is requested to join the one-hour energy conservation by switching off lights from 8 to 9 p.m. on Thursday. 

Energy conservation is an important action in minimizing carbon emission, not to mention the savings we can generate from our electric bills. Make it a habit at all time to do something in protecting the already threatened environment of ours and if you care, then, do your share.*

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