A conservation group studying important plant and animal species around the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF) has expressed concern about the ongoing disturbance in the area that they warned could place such organisms at risk.
Mary Chris Nierves, development officer of the Katala Foundation, Inc (KFI), said they are still in the process of identifying many of the species they have collected in 2016 and are expecting to discover more new species previously unknown to science.
Nierves said that because the area is not formally declared as a protected area, it is prone to disturbance from human activities.
“Ongoing yong identification. Yung fear namin ngayon dahil hindi pa sya talaga na-i-establish ngayon na critical habitat, probably because of the disturbances, probably maapektuhan talaga sila,” Nierves said.
New species of fresh water fishes, a frog, and a plant found inside the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF) have been discovered by the group in a survey done in 2016.
“Yan ay nadiskubre natin kasi meron tayong proposal na mag-establish ng critical habitat sa area, meaning isang area na pinapangalagaan natin,” she said.
Aside from the new species, the KFI is also looking at the protection and conservation of threatened resident species of birds in the province including the Philippine Cockatoo.
“Dahil sa nalaman natin na mataas ang conservation concern ng IPPF, patuloy ang pakikipag-ugnayan namin, kasi very unique ang setting natin, nangangalaga tayo kasama yong preso, yong Bureau of Correction staff. Ongoing yong coordination natin sa management ng Penal Farm. Masaya tayo na sila ay napaka-open sa mga ganyang klaseng initiative for conservation efforts,” Nierves added.
Levi Evangelista, IPPF spokesperson said they are unaware of the discovered species inside their jurisdiction.
“Malaking impact yon sa amin na hindi lang mga inmate yong dapat natin pangalagaan, kung hindi ito na rin mga ibong-ilang na ayon sa research ay dito makikita sa Iwahig, magandang implication yon sa amin,” Evangelista said.
He said the IPPF is open to any partnership with non-government organizations (NGOs) especially those in environment conservation.