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Walk for the environment

The Social Action Center of the Bacolod Diocese and other environmental groups are leading what they call a “Walk for the Environment” November 28-29 from Bacolod City to Salvador Benedicto town.

This campaign is part of the diocese's response to the environmental encyclical of Pope Francis – the “Laudato Si Mi Signore”. The walk aims to heighten the awareness of the general public on numerous ecological issues and how each of us would be able to contribute in saving the Earth from further destruction.

The walk, also supported by the Green Alert Negros, is timely, because numerous organized walks and pilgrimage are simultaneously held in various parts of the world in preparation for the forthcoming global climate conference. Called COP21, parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Conference will gather in Paris this December to, hopefully, arrive in legally binding universal agreement on climate, with the main purpose of keeping global warming below two degrees Celsius.

Scientists have already warned that the increasing temperature of the Earth will ultimately lead to extreme weather conditions, and some manifestations are currently being experienced in various countries.

It is very interesting to note that the walk for the environment in Negros Occidental shall traverse from Bacolod to Salvador Benedicto, with the view of two most important mountains in the province, the Mount Kanla-on Natural Park and the Northern Negros Natural Park.

Both mountains are included in the Key Biodiversity Areas of the Philippines, since they are hosts to numerous endemic species classified as threatened species. They also serve as critical watersheds, and where the remaining intact natural forests in the province are found. The MKNP is further listed in the Alliance for Zero Extinction, because it has a good number of species that are already at the brink of extinction in the wild.

These two mountains are also facing numerous issues and challenges, and they are not fully secured from destructive activities.

A large part of the MKNP and NNNP has already been converted into other purposes, like agriculture, settlement, public and private vacation resorts, game fowl farm, and government centers. In MKNP, a total of 169 hectares have been sliced from its original boundary to give way to geothermal energy development. The construction of private vacation houses in Salvador Benedicto by outsiders remains a critical issue, too. The Energy Development Corporation, that also operates the geothermal project in MKNP, is reportedly eyeing the NNNP for geothermal energy exploration.

The “Walk for the Environment” is a very good opportunity for my fellow Negrosanons to reflect on what we are envisioning for MKNP and NNNP. These two mountains are the remaining natural treasures that would constantly remind us the beauty of God's creations and the intricacy of the web of life. Much more, these mountains are not only the marvels of nature, but they serve as important life support systems. Negros Occidental had lost much of its natural forests and it is only in NNNP and MKNP where we can still found intact natural forests. Can we still afford to lose a single tree to give way for other forms of development?

The walk will start with Holy Mass, 5 a.m. on November 28 at the John Paul Memorial at the Reclamation Area in Bacolod City. It will culminate in Salvador Benedicto town where the Bacolod Diocese shall lead the Holy Mass and tree planting on Nov. 29. The activity is open to the public, and interested individuals and parties may inquire at the Social Action Center, Bishop's Palace in Bacolod, for more details.*

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