JICA graced turnover of access road and banana plantation project in Brgy. Montabiong, Lagawe, Ifugao

August 16, 2022

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has graced the turnover of an access road and a banana plantaiton and development enterprise project in Brgy. Montabiong, Lagawe in Ifugao Province showing significant gains in its funded Forestland Management Project (FMP).

Actual site monitoring activities by JICA to its funded projects such as the Forestland Management Project (FMP) was constrained by the Covid 19 pandemic for two (2) years. After a long wait, JICA resumed its project site visits starting in the Ifugao, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) on June 13, 2022.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has led the project implementation of FMP.

The access road plays an important role in the socio-economic progress of the town as it leads to the center of Brgy. Montabiong. It also serves as a farm-to-market road.
Beneficiary and partner of the banana enterprise and road are peoples organizations (POs) of the Lagawe subwatershed.

JICA also had an inspection of the Subproject Site Management Office (SUSIMO) of the Lagawe subwatershed and Provincial Project Management Office (PPMO) of FMP Ifugao.

The main purpose of the three-day site visit is for JICA to witness first hand project gains at the field level to further support the decision of the funding agency in granting the request for project extension of an additional year or until July 2023.

Forester Rolly Carbon of FASPS happily picks a cacao fruit in one of the GPAHI agroforestry plantations

Consequently, DENR’s Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Service (FASPS) led by its new director, Al Orolfo, made sure its technical assistance to the activity to affirm its support to the project in the region.

The turn-over ceremony of the Rehabilitation of the Montabiong access road was further graced by the Embassy of Japan contingents led by its First Secretary, Tachikawa Junpei.

Part of the ceremony’s key message of JICA representative, Hashizume Takuya, is urging “LGU officials and partner POs to take care and maintain the 4.5 km infrastructure in order to ensure longer utilization of the subproject” and achieve “improved access to our criticalsubwatershed in order to sustain reforestation, conservation, and protection efforts”.

Further, Engr. Ralph C. Pablo, the regional executive director of DENR-CAR, reminded the community people of Montabiong to “strike a balance” between socio-economic and watershed rehabilitation and conservation activities as in the end humanity cannot survive a heavily degraded environment with the emphasis that “there is no planet B”.

The subsequent activities focused on visiting the PO office and tree and agroforestry plantations of the Greener Pasture Ad Holnad, Inc. (GPAHI), specifically beholding how agroforestry farm-to-table tablea are made possible by the organization through its cacao plantations all the way to its established enterprise development cacao processing facility.

A PO member Mr. Stewart of BOMPI shows the JICA Visit team their agroforestry plantation intercropped with banana crops

The Boliwong Organization of Muyung Protectors, Inc. (BOMPI) on the other hand, showcased to the honored guests the PO’s fruit trees intercropped with bananas which are both bearing fruits at this stage.

Inspection of project offices and interviews with project staff gave JICA a glimpse on how day-to-day operations are made by the DENR to pursue project activities albeit now in a more fast-paced manner in view of tight project implementation timeline.

From these, issues and concerns were discussed and recommendations by the site visit team were formulated to overcome them.

Undoubtedly, the lessons learned gained from the visit such as PO field practices on project implementation, their networking and linkaging efforts and most of all their enduring visions for their communities and the environment highlighted the event. Takuya, as part of his concluding field impressions, cannot help but convey his congratulations for the exemplified humble but growing successes of the project in the region.

Pablo is pleased that CAR has been selected as JICA’s postpandemic pilot area for its project site visits which is also in time for FMP’s 10th year of implementation.

With the naturally long-term nature of forestry projects and with the promising results seen on the ground, the region hopes to have provide appropriate impetus for the funding agency, JICA, to affirm the request for project extension soon. – Ara Gendrano (PEO, FMP CAR).

DENR implements ASEAN-wide GEF-funded project on Large Marine Ecosystems

July 26, 2022

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) held an inception workshop as it prepares for an extensive GEF-funded ASEAN collaborative project on Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) which face serious threats amid their vast marine resources.

The project “Effectively Managing Networks of Marine Protected Areas in Large Marine Ecosystems (LME) in ASEAN” (ENMAPS) is being deliberated for implementation of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Director Al Orolfo of the DENR Foreign-Assisted and Special Projects Service (FASPS) joined the National Inception Workshop at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Quezon City, Metro Manila on July 13, 2022, stressing project importance to sustainable development. LMEs in ASEAN are a huge source of livelihood and jobs for struggling fishers.

The workshop aimed to inform the stakeholders from the national and regional government agencies, private sector, non-government organizations and academe about the project and to validate/gather inputs to the project concept that will be elaborated during the full proposal development.

The Coastal and Marine Biodiversity of ASEAN is known to have 20% of the world’s seagrass beds, a third of world’s mangrove forests with 45 to 75 true species, and a third of the world’s coral reefs with more than 75% of species of coral and 40% of of fish species.

ENMAPS will involve at least five countries in ASEAN including Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and South China Sea.

The workshop also provided the opportunity to discuss the project partners’ potential role and contribution in project implementation.
The ASEAN ENMAPS project will be executed by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity

(ACB) in collaboration with the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) under the Global Environment (GEF) Facility funding.
It aims to develop and improve the management of networks of MPAs and marine corridors within selected Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) in the ASEAN region for the conservation of globally significant biodiversity and support for sustainable fisheries and other ecosystem goods and services.

As the oversight office for foreign-assisted and special projects, FASPS Director Orolfo delivered the closing message highlighting the importance of the establishment of MPA and the management of its network as an effective approach to address challenges such as climate change, marine pollution and biodiversity loss.

“The project is expected to complement our existing efforts in the Philippines towards productive partnerships with the neighboring countries in terms of scaling up management under the regional MPAN approach,” said Orolfo.

GEF has been concerned that the world’s oceans have been reaching their ecological carrying capacity, a limit to their ability to produce fish for food.

“More than 75% of world fish stocks are already fully exploited, overexploirted, depleted or recovering from depeletion,” according to GEF website.

GEF has supported sustainable governance of 23 large marine ecosystems (LMEs) involving collaborative of work of many countries. The world’s oceans is known to be divided into 66 LMEs.

This area covers 7.7 million square kilomters with 173,000 kilometers of coastline.

LMEs are huge marine areas extending beyond boundaries among countries which is why collaboration is important here.

ENMAPS has a cost of $77.596 million. Of this, $12.548 million consists of GEF grant. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)
PHOTO General characteristics of an LME. NOAA

Marine ecosystem. Credit- Sciencelearning.org.nz

Cooperation on environment through science, technology and satellite development eyed by Republic of Korea (ROK) legislator

July 21, 2022

A Korean National Assembly (KNA) representative and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are exploring a collaboration on the use of COMSAT (communications satellite) to monitor and protect the environment.

KNA Member Congresswoman JO Myung-hee paid last July 13 a courtesy visit to the DENR in a pivotal meeting to introduce state-the-art technologies on the collection of data to monitor environmental conditions on the ground.

In her visit, she was officially welcomed by DENR-Foreign Assisted and Special Services (FASPS) Director Dr. Al O. Orolfo who acknowledged satellite technologies and high resolution images’ significant role in the management and protection of natural resources and environment.

Other senior officials present at the courtesy visit were Lawyer Ernesto D. Adobo, Jr., Officer-in-Charge (OIC), DENR and Maria Elena A. Morallos-Manila, Director of the Knowledge and Information Systems Service (KISS).

Present also in the meeting is Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Philippines Office Assistant Country Director Kim Younlee.

JO explained that in Korea, they already use two systems for real-time monitoring of the environmental and weather conditions through satellite imagery and meteorological stations.

DENR OIC Secretary Adobo expressed DENR’s gratitude to the support and
assistance extended by the Korean Government in the environment sector of the country, reported FASPS’s John Darren M. Chua.

There are two ongoing KOICA-funded projects with the DENR. One of these is the Establishment of Integrated Water Resources Management and Information System for the Pampanga River Basin Phase 2 (IWRMIS II) implemented with the National Water Resources Board (NWRB).

The other is the Enhancement of Marine Litter Management in Manila Bay (EMLM) to be spearheaded by the Manila Bay Coordinating Office (MBCO).

JO is looking forward to this collaboration as well with other Philippine government agencies such as the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) and PAGASA.

At present, the Philippines capability to monitor ground and surface conditions are through local weather stations of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the Geographic Information System (GIS) which generates and analyses data dependent on a particular location or coordinates on the ground.

The Korean technologies will strengthen Philippines’ capabilities the the use of COMSAT data generated through orbital satellites which provide high resolution images of the terrains.

Representative JO Myung-hee is Korea’s first doctorate degree holder in the Remote Sensing Area and is recognized for her contribution in the development of talent and advance technology in the field of satellite images and geospatial data. (John Darren M. Chua)

DENR launches two special projects on Philippine Tarsier in Mt. Matutum and carbon valuation in forests of Mt. Timolan Protected Landscapes Protected Landscapes

June 27, 2022

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has launched two special projects involving the conservation of “endangered” Philippine Tarsiers in Mt. Matutum, South Cotabato and the valuation of carbon input in reforested and secondary forest in Mt Landscape, Zamboanga del Sur.

The special projects are under DENR’s Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Service (FASPS) where DENR shells out its own fund for special conservation programs.
The study on the Philippine Tarsier in Mt. Matutum is in partnership with the University of the Philippines- Diliman. It aims to further understand the ecology and behavior of Philippine Tarsiers within Mt. Matutum Protected Landscape (MMPL) to enhance and supplement conservation efforts in the Tarsier Sanctuary.

Philippine Tarsier in Mt. Matutum. Credit- South Cotabato News

The project on the Mount Timolan Protected Landscape will be carried out by the Zamboanga del Sur Provincial Government College.

It will study differences in the production and decomposition for quantifying carbon input in reforested and secondary forest in Mt. Timolan Protected Landscape.

The Philippine tarsier was classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1986, 1988, and 1990.

In 2008, it was reclassified as near threatened. While tarsiers have been known to be popular in Bohol, the nocturnal (active at night) primate endemic to the Philippines has also been found in Siargao Island, Maripipi Island, Dinagat Island, Samar, Leyte, and Basilan.

Tarsiers are one of the smallest primates (where monkeys and the human species belong). Their height ranges from only 3.35 to 6.30 inches. They weigh from 80 to 160 grams. They are arboreal (tree-living) creatures.

Mt. Timolan Protected Lanscape Zamboanga del Sur. Credit-Pinoy Mountaineer

The Mt. Timolan Protected Landscape, spanning over 1,994,79 hectares and a buffer zone of 695.39 hectares, is an important watershed.

It supports river systems that are sources of irrigation for many rice farms. Eighty percent of Mt Timolan’s landscape consists of dipterocarp forests. Seven percent is made up of man-made forest plantations of Gmelina and Acacia, according to the Philippine Clearing House Mechanism for Biodiversity.

Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said during the launching of the two special projects at the Radisson Hotel that the projects’ signing of memorandum of agreement indicates that successful partnerships lead to attaining shared goals on sustainable development. The partnerships extend to international agencies, the academe, and other government and civic institutions.

“The project in Mt. Timolan will surely help in achieving the country’s international commitment in climate change,” Sampulna said. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DNA barcoding of bamboo to support bamboo conservation and propagation in typhoon-affected Cagayan Valley

June 25, 2022

A phytochemical screening and DNA barcoding of economically important bamboos will be carried out as part of aims to conserve and propagate the species in typhoon-affected Cagayan Valley  and explore bamboo’s pharmaceutical-industrial prospects.
   “Bamboo has numerous industrial, pharmaceutical, phytochemical, medical, nutritional, and food advantages.  Characterization of bamboo germplasm is an important connection between conservation of diversity and utilization of germplasms (seeds or living tissues that carry genetic resources useful in plant breeding and conservation),” according to Alvin Jose L. Reyes and Eddie B. Abugan Jr of the Project  Management Division (PMD).
   PMD is one of the units of the Department of Environrment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Foreign Assisted and Special Projects.
   The Bamboo Characterization Project of the Cagayan State University (CSU)-Gonzaga through its Project Leader Jeff M. Opeña. just made a presentation at DENR Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) in Sta. Ana, Cagayan.
It is in relation to its petition for a gratuitous permit to conduct the bamboo characterization and sample collection activities in the Palaui Island Protected Landscape and Seascape.
   The project also aims to refurbish a research laboratory in CSU-Gonzaasga. It will collect and characterize different species in different ecosystems in Cagayan Province.

Cagayan’s bamboo growing in rivers and volcanic areas

   DNA barcoding will be a modern and innovative way to characterize bamboo species.  It will accelerate experts’ identification of the species that they desire to use based on traits—such fast propagation or medicinal properties.  
   Bamboo has been traditionally characterized based on its flowering frequency or abundance—annual flowering, sporadic or regular flowering, and gregarious flowering.
   “However, characterization using floral morphology posed a limitation and difficulty due to the requirement of long period of time which can occur in years or even decades,” according to Reyes and Abugan.
   Moreover, biochemical characterization through phytochemical (plant chemistry) screening enables experts in pharmaceuticals and medicine to detect plant secondary metabolites in bamboo which have utilization potentials in the industry.  
   While primary metabolites include small molecules like amino acids and sugars, secondary plant metabolities such as alkaloids, anthocyanin, flavonoids, phenols, saponins, steroids, tannins, and terpenoids are studied for medicinal plant herbal purposes, among other possible commercial uses.
   Former DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu ordered in November 2020 the extensive propagation of bamboo in Cagayan Valley to prevent massive flooding that plagued the province arising from Typhoon Ulysses.

CSU Project Leader Jeff Opena (left) leads bamboo DNA bamboo barcoding

   Executive Order 879 also mandated that 25% of the annual school desks of the Department of Education should be made of bamboo. EO 879 creates the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC).    
   DENR”s own reforestation areas should be planted with bamboo in its directive to DENR-attached Forest Management Bureau, Laguna Lake Development Authority, and Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
   The bamboo project costs P1.601 million consisting of P1.261 million from DENR and P340,000 from CSU.  Aside from involving DENR’s local offices in Cagayan, implementor includes Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Offices of Cagayan, and the Central Analytical Laboratory of CSU.
   Aside from preventing flooding effects of typhoons, DENR also aims to use bamboo as tool to climate change mitigation.  Bamboo is known to sequester five metric tons of carbon dioxide per hectare of plantation.  
   Bamboo is also being planted in the rivers of Marikina and Bicol– areas usually flooded during typhoons.
   DENR is also promoting its use as lumber substitute using engineered bamboo.  
   While it has extensive use as raw material in many industries, the Philippines’ bamboo export actually slowed from a high of 106,000 kilos in 2011 to  35,000 in 2015 and even further lower to 8,00 kilos in 2018, according to Statista.com.  Exports just picked up to 66,000 in 2020.
The phytochemical and morphological studies of bamboo species will be a first among bamboo species studies that will take into consideration the different ecosystemswhere bamboo grows in Cagayan province.  
   “Cagayan is  rich natural systems, not only agro-ecosystems but grasslands, and others like water falls and volcanic areas where sulfur-rich soil is found.  For example, we will study if the Bayog bamboo species carries different morphological and phytochemical characteristices when they are grown in sulfur-rich volcanic areas,” said Opeña
   The study will find out if in the future, the “species’ phytochemical properties may be used (as raw material) for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical products, for medicine and other products.”
   Target for the bamboo species growth study are in two volcanoes– the Smith Volcano, also called Mount Babuyan, which is politically located in Calayan Island and Mount Cagua in Gonzaga.
   Among other ecosystems  the bamboo species will be studied  in coastal areas, residential areas, glasslands, agroecosystems, near bodies of water (rivers, creeks, waterfalls, dams, lakes, freshwater and hotsprings), caves, near the volcano, rainforests/forests, islands, protected areas, and others. .  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR anticipates recognition of Sibugay Wetland Nature Reserve as a Ramsar Site or Wetland of International Importance as contracting parties meet in Switzerland in December

June 22, 2022
The Sibugay Coastal Wetlands (SCW) will be renamed Sibugay Wetland Nature Reserve (SWNR) as Philippines anticipates its inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance when contracting parties meet in December this year in Gland, Switzerland.
   Georgina Fernandez, Conservation and Development chief of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Zamboanga Sibugay, said that the Ramsar Site designation will open opportunities for international cooperation on research.  

   It will help raise funding for conservation and protection of the site.
    Provincial Eenvironment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Edgardo P. Montojo said  it is important to advocate for the wise use the wetlands’ resources so it will be enjoyed by future generations. Here, the Ramsar list will play a unique role.
   DENR-Region IX is preparing the documents for the inclusion of the SWNR into the list. These will be submitted to the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) – the designated Ramsar National Administrative Authority for endorsement to the Office of the DENR Secretary who will then endorse it to the Ramsar authorities.
   The effort toward the declaration of SWNR as Ramsar  site is part of conserving its rich biodiversity and the cultural heritage of Subanens and other ethnic tribes in Zamboanga Sibugay.      
   Its designation also supports the country’s commitment to the Ramsar Convention as well as to the Convention on Biodiversity and Convention on Migratory Species, said Michael F. Dela Cruz,  PENRO Sibugay Technical Services chief.
   The listing will protect the rich biodiversity of Sibugay Wetland Nature Reserve which is home to 68 waterbird species – 43 migratory species– 9 Near Threatened species and  4 Threatened species namely Far Eastern Curlew, Great Knot, Chinese Egret and Philippine Duck.

   Banded (with flags/ring) waterbirds were also documented in the wetland with banding sites from China, Taiwan, Russia, Australia, and Japan.          
   The 172,007.25-hectare Sibugay Wetland Nature Reserve has vast areas of mangroves, mudflats, seagrass and corals.
   “The mangrove forest plays a major role in the productivity of the wetland, especially for fisheries as well as roosting site for the largest Flying Fox population in the country. The wetland also serves as a staging, roosting and  foraging grounds various waterbirds, marine turtles and whale shark according to DENR wildlife experts.

Wetlands feeds birds

   The proposed Sibugay Wetlands Nature Reserve covers 9 municipalities out of the 16 Sibugay towns.  Two Marine Protected Area Networks (MPAN) are housed in this proposed nature reserve.  
   DENR IX through PENRO Sibugay is completing in the second quarter of 2022 the Nagao Funded Project which aims to empower the local communities on the sustainable use of the wetland and its resources.

Whale shark or Butanding

   It also aims to organize and operationalize its citizen science group and implement the community-based wetland action plan, according to Fernandez, also chief of the Nagao Wetland-funded “Establishing Knowledge on the International Importance of Sibugay Wetlands:  A Means to Enhance Wise Use of the Proposed Ramsar Site.”
   The Sibugay Wetland Nature Reserve  will be Philippines’ ninth Ramsar Site when granted this recognition.  
   Other Ramsar Sites in the country are Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Naujan Lake National Park, Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area, and
Sasmuan Pampanga Coastal Wetlands.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

USAID-funded “Safe Water Project” to give safe drinking water, sanitation services to 350,000 individiauls in Palawan, Negros, Sarangani

June 20, 2022

The United States-funded Safe Water Project (SWP) will be implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to give access to safe drinking water and sanitation services to 350,000 individuals in Palawan, Negros Occidental, and Sarangani.

Project components include a technical assistance (TA) on water chlorination for LGUs and water districts and TA to Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) on septage management.

The septate management covers the Supreme Court Mandamus for Manila Bay area.
Other components are exploration on diversifying surface bulk water supply in Negros Occidental and assistance in water security plans for Negros Occidental and Sarangani.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been prompted by water security challenges in the Philippines including a “growing population, unsustainable land uses, deficient wastewater management.”

“At the center of these challenges are the need for adequate supply of clean drinking water which has become increasingly elusive in many parts of the country, elimination of open defecation, especially in poorer communities, and increased access to safely managed sanitation services,” reported DENR Project Evaluation Officer Israel Helios S. Inocencio.

Climate change, typhoons, droughts, and diseases like Covid 19 are further worsening the level of stress from these water supply threats.These threaten watersheds and the integrity of water and sanitation infrastructure.

Total project cost is P922 million– equivalent to a grant of $18 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Philippine government shoulders a fund equivalent to not less than one-third (P307 million) of the USAID grant.

The project employs the Integrated and Inclusive Water Security (IIWS) framework. This is part of the long term goal to protect the upstream water resources — the forests–where the water comes from. The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) is a co-implementor of the project.

As such a highlight of the SWP is a livelihood component.

In this livelihood lineup is an ube production training for people’s organizations (POs) in Narra, Palawan. It involves private company Sunlight Corp.
Another livelihood component is training for the use of starter kits and farm tools for the ECLOF Organic Farm, a non-profit microfinance institution.

Negros Occidental Rep. Kiko Benitez listens to a presentation on Safe Water Project

Profiling of a PO in Sarangani for enterprise development will also be implemented. An estimated 150,000 people will be the livelihood beneficiaries.

Profiling of a PO in Sarangani for enterprise development will also be implemented. An estimated 150,000 people will be the livelihood beneficiaries.
A total of $20 million will be mobilized as investment for the sustainable environment operation.

The project will empower local government units (LGUs), water service providers, and watershed councils on the sustainable management of water resources.
Other beneficiaries are communities in Region 4-B (Mimaropa, Mindoro Marinduque, Romblon) , Region 6 (Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo) and Region 12 ( Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat).

The Safe Water Roadmap will provide 350,000 people access to safely managed drinking water services . A total of 1.1 million people will receive improved service quality from an existing safely managed drinking water services.
An estimated one million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced due to sustainable landscapes system.

Assistance on the setup of a Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) will be extended to Puerto Princesa and Quezon in Palawan, Bago and Kabankalan in Negros Occidental and Sarangani.
The Safe Water Project is being implemented over five years until 2024. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Sibugay Coastal Wetlands to be nominated to the Ramsar List of International Importance

June 6, 2022

The government will nominate the Sibugay Coastal Wetlands hto the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance as part of conserving its rich biodiversity and the cultural heritage of Zamboanga Sibugay’s Subanens and other ethnic tribes.

The Sibugay Coastal Wetlands (SCW) will be Philippines’ eighth on the Ramsar List when granted this recognition.

Wetlands feeds birds

The listing will protect its rich wildlife which is home to 53 waterbird species– 37 migratory waterbirds and 11 threatened migratory waterbirds.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is completing in the second quarter of 2022 the project “Establishing Knowledge on the International Importance of Sibugay Wetlands: A Means to Enhance Wise use of the Proposed Ramsar Site.”

Sibugay Wetlands’ 187,000-hectare area has been extensively planted with mangroves totalling 5,155 hectares. It has mudflats (bay mud) spanning 1,607 hectares.

“The mangrove forest plays a major role int he productivity of the wetland, especially for fisheries as well as roosting site for the largest Flying Fox population. Sibugay Wetlands serves as a staging, roosting, foraging and breeding grounds for various waterbirds including migratory species,” according to DENR wildlife experts.

Sea cow or dugong

As part of the conservation plan, DENR will empower the local communities on the sustainable use of the wetland and its resources. That will give them livelihood to keep them away from destroying such environmental wonder.

“The bay supports fishing and other marine related livelihood which serves as the main source of subsistence for most of the coastal barangays.”

Marine turtles

The DENR study will generate detailed bilogical and physiochemical data, and information on ecosystems services of Sibugay Wetlands. It is also now completing Communication Education Public and Awareness (CEPA) sessions and capability building of the community.

The project includes the wetlands’ assessment, distribution of maps of wetland resources, and CEPA within the coastal wetlands, and a workshop on the formulation of community-based wetland action plan.

The SCW project is funded by the Nagao Wetland Fund for P936,000. Implementor also includes DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) and the Provincial Environment & Natural Resources OFfice-Zamboanga Sibugay.

SCW also supports threatened species such as marine turtles, Whale shark, Sea Cow, and Saltwater Crocodile. The vast mudflat is home to a variety of oysters, scallops, and other mollusks.

Whale shark Butanding

Endangered Far Eastern Curlew were recorded. Banded-flagged birds were also documented with banding sites from Nan Pu mudflat, Bohai Bay, China; Chongming Dao, Shanghai, China, Khairusova and Belogovaya Rivers estuary, Russia; Australia, and Japan.

The Ramsar List promotes conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. It recognizes wetlands’ international significance based on its “ecology, botany, zoology, limnology (study of inland waters) or hydrology.” (Ramsar Convention).
Philippines’ other wetlands on the Ramsar List are Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary,
Las Pinas Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, Naujan Lake National Park, Negros Occidental, Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area, Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, and Tubataha Reefs Natural Park. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Benefit sharing scheme to open economic opportunities for rural communities, Indigenous People from Ph “genetic” wealth 

May 13, 2022 
A benefit sharing scheme will be implemented by the government to ensure Philippines’ own “genetic” wealth from endemic plants and animals will give economic opportunities to indigenous people (IP) and poverty-stricken rural communities. 
   The Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) framework from the country’s genetic wealth will be adopted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as its compliance to the Nagoya Protocol (NP). 
    The NP is a 2015 global agreement for the access of all to genetic resources and traditional knowledge and their equitable economic sharing.  

A genetic resource is a physical object of biological origin and the intellectual information associated with it such as traditional knowledge (Learn Nagoya). An example is a native people’s knowledge on the use of a plant as treatment for an illness. 

Nagoya Protocol. Credit- Cryoarks

  The poorest of society that come from ancestral domains (indigenous people) in the boondocks and rural communities are among targeted beneficiaries of the treaty.   
   The DENR project will be carried out over six years to be financed under the seventh cycle of ghe Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). 
   ”The project will increase economic opportunity and biodiversity conservation for local communities and IPs stemming from fair and equitable sharing  of biodiversity benefits,” according to a memorandum for DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Natividad Y. Bernardino. 
   The project “Implementing the National Framework for Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge”  costs a total of $26.015 million.  Of this, $4.384 million is taken up by GEF and $21.631 million is co-financed by Philippines, mainly government. 
   The first component of the project is harmonizing policies with the Nagoya Protocol on bioprospecting policies and scientific research.   
   These policies include commercialization of genetic resources on flora and fauna (plants and animal life).   
   Over the last decade,  scientific research activities have surged due to the rise of intellectuals and “Balik Scientist” Filipinos from abroad.   These intellectuals were given incentives by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)  to participate in the local “brain gain.” 
   Filipino researchers have been exploring the production of drugs, pharmaceutical products, natural ingredients for food, clothing and raw materials for home furnishings, commercial products, and industrial products such  as commercial vehicles’ accessories.   

They have been tapping Philippines’ natural resources of plants and animals from its rich biodiversity. 
   “Research undertaking with the private sector for possible uptake will be established,” according to the report submitted by DENR-Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Services Assistant Director Sabrina R. Cruz. 
   The Philippines was one of the first countries to implement access and benefit sharing under Article 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) through Executive Order 275 (1995). 
   It has since been amended by the Wildlife Act (Republic Act or RA 9147) and supported by the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (RA 8371 of 1997). 
    The DENR-BMB will lead the project.  Other implementing partners are Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, DENR Regions 3 and 4, Department of Agriculture (DA), PENRO (Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office)-Sorsogon, National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), DOST,  and local government units (LGUs). 
   The second component consists of information dissemination on the national policy on access to these genetic resources.   
   Policies on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR– patents and commercial licensing instruments) will be strengthened.   It will carry out capacity building for IPs and local communities in asserting their rights over their Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP). 

Nagoya Protocol. Credit-Learn Nagoya 

   The third component consists of facilitating negotiation for ABS agreements.   
   “It will support community protocols for security Prior Informed Consent (PIC) and Mutually Agreed Terms (MAT) to ensure fair and equitable sharing of both the monetary and non-monetary benefits of genetic resources.”  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR socio-economic resilience project in Catubig Watershed to sustain Samar Protected Landscape, support rice farmers  


May 9, 2022  

A Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) project to build socio-economic resilience in the Catubig Watershed will protect the Samar Protected Landscape and Seascape while supporting the livelihood of rice farmers, craftsmen, and fishers.  

The Small Grants Programme (SGP) Phase 7, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), was launched by DENR last April 8.   

It involves livelihood and biodiversity projects in four sites. These are in Aurora province (Sierra Madre), Calamianes Group of Islands in Palawan, and Siargao Protected Landscape and Seascape in Surigao del Norte.  

Phase 7 sustains the project that was started under GEF-Phase 5.  

The DENR-GEF SGP-7’s work in Catubig Watershed may have the biggest environmental and socio-economic growth impact among Samar natives.  

Calamianes Island, Palawan. Credit Coyxxx

While known to have a rich biodiversity profile with mixed dipterocarp forests, Samar Island is also known as the most cyclone-prone region in the country.   

The National Economic and Develoment Authority reported in 2015 that Northern Samar, where the Catubig Watershed is located, had a poverty incidence of 61.6 percent. This makes it one of the country’s poorest provinces.  

The SGP-7 costs $13.78  million of which $4.436 million comes from a GEF grant. The Philippine government co-finances $9.214 million. “  

“It is urgent that we strengthen the resilience of our community-based organizations. They are the frontliners in conservation and livelihood interventions. In this period of climate change and biodiversity degradation, a more integrated effort of interventions is essential,” DENR Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said.  

Siargao Protected Landscape and Seascape. Credit Travel Guide Pinoy

Greg Sarmiento, executive director of the Eastern Visayas Partnership for Rural Development, said the launch of SGP-7 is timely due to recent climate hazards experienced in the province.   

The Samar Island Natural Park is the second largest natural park in the Philippines covering 335,107 hectares. It has the country’s largest contiguous tract of old-growth forest.   

The Catubig Watershed is a major source of water supply in the household. The newly completed dam whose water comes from Catubig Watershed irrigates some 8,000 hectares of rice farm.   

“Catastrophic incidents like the onslaught of Typhoon Odette highlight the urgent need to continue our efforts on disaster risk reduction and resilience building,” UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran said. 


Samar Island Natural Park. Credit- Vismin.ph

“These devastating events exacerbate the already limiting and unpredictable situation brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The promising changes being offered by SGP-7 are expected to effect change towards strengthening governance systems even for disaster response, recover, and building resilient communities.”    SGP-7 has a livelihood component. The project encourages natives to engage in biodiversity friendly enterprises (BDFEs) in order to help veer them away from illegal logging and fishing activities. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)