Celebrities join DENR and PLDT-Smart in campaign for peatlands conservation

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    The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has partnered with digital services provider PLDT Inc. (PLDT) and its wireless unit Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) to help raise awareness on peatlands in the Caraga region.

    Peatlands are a type of wetlands whose peat soils consist of carbon-rich dead and decaying plant matter. If kept wet, peatlands can store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests combined. However, its crucial role in mitigating climate change, as well as the huge costs that arise when these natural carbon sinks are damaged, remains largely overlooked.

    The DENR and PLDT-Smart presented the conservation program on peatlands in a web activity held last November 6 to kick off the Climate Change Consciousness Week in the latter part of the month. Featured in the conservation program is the Caimpugan Peatland in the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS). PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan was the guest of honor for the virtual event.

    Celebrities Derek Ramsay and Pops Fernandez, who acted as host during the virtual event, also expressed their concern for the environment and said they are one with PLDT and DENR in their campaign to protect the remaining intact peat swamp forest in the Philippines. They were both eager to visit the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, which has been designated as a national park and is recognized as a Heritage Park by the ASEAN.

    Derek and Pops follow in the footsteps of Hollywood actor and environmentalist Alec Baldwin, who recognize the value of peatlands and spoke about its importance and need for conservation in a video for the Global Landscapes Forum.

    Baldwin said: “Peatlands are crucial to fight climate change. They are large, often forested swamps that can be found all over the world. They matter for the planet because they actually store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forest together while covering less than 3% of the land’s surface but peatlands are being degraded and lost at a dramatic pace due to logging, drainage for agriculture and burning. When they are destroyed, they release massive amounts of greenhouse gases and the unique and often endangered plants and animals they house are lost as well.

    “Peatlands also matter for people because the smoke released from peatland fires is toxic and has the worse impact on the most vulnerable groups – our children and the elderly. We must protect peatlands because peatlands matter.”

    The three-year extendable project to be implemented by PLDT-Smart through its Chief Sustainability Office until 2023 aims to strengthen and support the AMWS-Protected Area Management Office and other concerned DENR offices in implementing peatland conservation and management strategies under the AMWS Management Plan.