The globally important Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) have been added to the prestigious list of Southeast Asia’s most treasured parks, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje announced on Wednesday. Paje said that environment ministers from the 10 member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have approved the nomination of the MHRWS and the TRNP as the 34th and 35th ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP), respectively, during the 15th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment held on October 29-31 in Vientiane, Lao PDR.

“The designation of TRNP and MHRWS as regional heritage parks is long overdue, both having been named earlier as UNESCO World Heritage Sites,” Paje said.The environment chief said the country was delighted by the designation, which brings to seven the total number of AHP from the Philippines. “This latest recognition indicates that the natural characteristics of both TRNP and MHRWS are so exceptional they deserve to be protected for the benefit of everyone in Southeast Asia,” Paje pointed out The nomination of the two parks was facilitated by Director Theresa Mundita Lim of the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Lawyer Roberto Oliva, executive director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, said the two nature parks are now part of the AHP Programme, a regional network of national protected areas of high conservation importance, preserving a complete spectrum of respective ecosystems to generate greater awareness, pride, appreciation, enjoyment and conservation of ASEAN’s rich biodiversity.

The five other AHPs in the country are the Mt. Apo Natural Park, Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park, and Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park, all in Mindanao; the Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park in Occidental Mindoro; and the Mount Makiling Forest Reserve in Laguna

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