Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Economic valuation for marine turtles and blue-naped parrots held

Wazzup Pilipinas!

What is the Value of Wildlife?

What’s the value of a parrot soaring above a forest? How about a marine turtle grazing serenely by the coast?

The reasons for conserving wildlife range from the moral obligation to prevent extinction to more pragmatic reasons like wildlife tourism or the protection of natural systems which benefit local communities.

To better appreciate the value of marine turtles and blue-naped parrots, ADB, DENR-BMB and NIRAS Asia Manila sought expert counsel for an economic valuation review of wildlife last 12 August. Led by environmental economist Dr. Agustin Arcenas, the report analyzed the monetary value and ecosystem benefits derived from marine turtles and blue-naped parrots, representing some of the most iconic wildlife of the Philippines.

“The study aims to convince decision-makers that many animals are worth more alive than dead by assessing the trade, tourism and ecological value of marine turtles and blue-naped parrots,” explains Dr. Arcenas. Results shall be publicized in the coming months.

Other speakers included two marine turtle experts, Cecilia Fischer from ADB and independent consultant Romeo Trono. Two parrot experts, ornithologist Dr. Juan Carlos Gonzalez of UPLB and biologist Peter Widmann from the Katala Foundation shared their insights. A total of 42 representatives from the government, academe, plus international aid and nonprofit agencies attended the online event, which is part of a DENR-ADB/GEF project to combat the illegal wildlife trade, or IWT, in the Philippines.

The Philippines is an hotspot of biodiversity but also an IWT hub, having served as an illegal transshipment point for elephant ivory, as a source country of wildlife and wildlife byproducts such as pangolins and marine turtles, as well as a destination of trades, such as parrots kept as pets.

“People know that wildlife play an important role in balancing the environment, but their economic value has never been taken seriously,” adds DENR-BMB Wildlife Resources Division OIC Atty. Theresa Tenazas. “This study can finally give our enforcers, law practitioners, prosecutors and judges the correct valuation of wildlife – preventing the dismissal of wildlife cases because of the inability to establish their economic value, an argument often used by offenders to escape conviction.”

DENR-ADB/GEF is pushing for stronger legal reforms against IWT, enhanced capacity-building for law enforcers, plus demand reduction measures targeting consumers, with an emphasis on marine turtles and blue-naped parrots – legally-protected animals, which are nevertheless regularly captured for consumption, curio and pet trade.

“Biology, conservation science and economics must be meshed together to defeat the illegal wildlife trade and we are glad to see that the Philippines is taking a leading role in this,” concludes ADB environmental specialist Dr. Francesco Ricciardi.

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