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Massive highway planned for Philippines’ Palawan Island

22 / 08 / 2017, Mongabaycom News

Plans are underway for the construction of a massive superhighway on the highly biodiverse Palawan Island in the Philippines. The project would aim to expand the island’s existing road into a six-lane highway, spanning roughly 600 kilometers from El Nido on the northeastern end of the island to Bataraza on the southwestern side. But many on the island are critical of the project, fearing such a road could devastate Palawan’s distinct forest ecosystem and rare species. “Even at two lanes, we do not experience any heavy traffic, so why do we need six?” Robert Chan, legal expert and head of the Palawan NGO Network, asked. A recent press release cited tourism as a primary driver behind the 600 million dollar (USD) project, as well as increased opportunities for economic development. But a number of NGOs, conservationists, researchers, and local sources view the plan skeptically. An underground river emerges onto a beach in Palawan, Philippines. Photo credit: Hector Garcia, via Flickr. “It is grossly inappropriate and out of place in Palawan given the province’s unique biodiversity and its vulnerability to soil erosion and thin topsoil,” Grizelda Mayo-Anda, an environmental attorney and professor at Palawan State University, said. Mayo-Anda, who also started the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) in the Philippines, explained that the road expansion would face significant legal hurdles. Mayo-Anda added that an environmental impact assessment hasn’t been presented yet. At the same time, the political climate appears to be shifting away from environmental and conservation concerns in the Philippines.…

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